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What Does The Term Dada Art Mean?

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

There is no consensus on the origin of the term Dada, the term "Dada" might have been chosen to declare no meaning at all in any language, reflecting the movement's internationalism.


Dadaism As Informal International Art Movement


Dadaism was an informal international art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, Dadaist activities lasted until the mid-1920s. Dada's early center was in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (the name of a short-lived artistic nightclub in Zürich, Switzerland in 1916).


The origin of the term "Dada" seems to be unclear; Jean Arp wrote that Tristan Tzara invented the term at 6 p.m. on 6 February 1916, in the Café de la Terrasse in Zürich.


The origin of the term "Dada" also may be French as the German artist Richard Huelsenbeck slid letter-opener at random into a dictionary, where it landed on "dada", a colloquial French term for a hobby horse.


Others note that the term "Dada" also suggests the first words of a child, evoking a childishness and absurdity that appealed to the group.


Still others speculate that the term "Dada" might have been chosen to declare no meaning at all in any language, reflecting the movement's internationalism.


Prominent Dadaists published manifestos, but the movement was loosely organized and there was no central hierarchy. On 14 July 1916, Ball originated the seminal Dada Manifesto.


There is no consensus on the origin of the Dada movement's name, After World War I, a group of artists and ideologists believed that the bourgeois capitalist society had led people to war.


The Dada anti-art movement represented the opposite of Art.


The group expressed their rejection of bourgeois ideology in what they called "Dada artistic expression" that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality.


The Dada movement rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society. The Dada anti-art movement represented the opposite of Art. Art was concerned with traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics.


Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917, Dada Anti-Art subject
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917, Dada Anti-Art subject

If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend. The shock and scandal the movement inflamed were deliberate. Dadaist magazines were banned and their exhibits were closed.


Some of the artists even faced imprisonment. Dadaist artists declared their affinities towards radical left-wing and far-left politics, they expressed their discontent toward violence, war, and nationalism.


The term anti-art characterizes Dada works that challenge accepted definitions of art. Dada philosophy is the most paralyzing and destructive thing that has ever originated under the name of art.


Dada artists' works are nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide. Dada was a phenomenon born in the struggles of the postwar economic and moral crisis. Dada was a systematic work of destruction and demoralization... In the end, it became nothing but an act of sacrilege.

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