L.H.O.O.Q. (1919). Marcel Duchamp


It all started in New York City by two misfit artists Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia. They were both well known in the French Cubist circles way before the war. Marcel Duchamp, whose small but controversial achievement gave a strong impact on the progression of 20th-century avant-garde art. He mostly, believed that ideas should replace the actual skill when visualizing and understanding art. Duchamp performed the most controversial work in his time. The Nude Descending a Staircase piece, Duchamp created, was uproar to society’s traditional art. It was definitely considered to be an influential development in modern visual and innovative in art.


"Artists, so they say, make fun of the bourgeoisie; me, I make fun of the bourgeoisie and the artists." Picabia


As for Picabia, he felt humans were nothing but machines, ruled by society’s dogma.

Picabia was a huge influence to the Dada movement when it began to take place in Paris in the1920s, and his work quickly changed many of his form of art that had taken place in his previous work. He began to use text in his pictures and collages and to create more purposely outrageous images attacking typical approach of principle, law, and religion. As the work being followed by the Dada movement's fury against the European culture that had led to the bloodshed of World War I, Picabia's outbreaks were definitely energetic, tough comedy of the jokester. All his work at that time reflected an artist with no consideration for any assembly, not even art; since art was just another character of the wider culture he refused to follow.



Hugo Ball, a follower of Bakunin pictured here being well avant garde, SoundPoetry.

DADA: Misfits Of The ARTS

Ëvelina Bonell  Feb. 2015



The Misfits of the arts in the 20th century


"You cannot define electricity. The same can be said of art. It is a kind of inner current in a human being, or something which needs no definition."~ Marcel Duchamp 


Dada was created in Zurich, Berlin, Paris and New York during World War I, Dada picked up Futurisms call for the destruction of tradition, as a consequence of World War I, but it looked for hope in the future. Some of the few artists from this movement were Hugo Ball, Max Ernst, George Grosz, Marcel Janco, Hans Arp, Sophie Tauber, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Tristan Tzara and Hannah Höch. These artists were writers, painters, dancers, poets, musicians, and whatever the arts consisted of. 

As a movement Dada focused on noise, illogic and silliness. Dada was mainly against all traditional art and anything that had traditional sense of the universe. What sparked this “non traditional” art to aspire? These groups of extremely angry artist were in disgust that modern European society would sanction World War I to have occurred.   

They were so outraged; that they even took the time make an artistic tradition of objecting. They also rejected society and society’s ideas of art; Dadaists found freedom in demonstrating their talents in such a rebellious way. Whatever direction society was going, Dadaist made sure they weren’t following. These rebels wanted to express what the war was doing to society through the only way they knew… though the arts. Anything that contributed to the imbecilic war they would reject it.  The war to their opinion was senseless and wanted no part of it. 


"DADA, as for it, it smells of nothing, it is nothing, nothing, nothing."

—Francis Picabia, 1920






Francis Picabia - Tableau RastaDada, 1920


The birth of Dada is mostly contributed to poet and theorist, Hugo Ball. He opened Cabaret Voltaire, in February 1916, in Zürich. Cabaret Voltaire advocated artistic expression and became a spot for artist’s rebels.  Hugo Ball coexisting poems, where multiple languages are read at once translating each meaninglessly, gave a different take to abstract poetry. By destructing everyday words, poems and which gave both an implied comparison for the wreckage caused by war and an analysis on the hypocrisy of language. All the nonsense that fueled the war also pushed Dadaists to oppose any language, as a stand. 


“Every word that is spoken and sung here (the Cabaret Voltaire) represents at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect.” ~Hugo Ball 




Hannah Höch, an artist, as many of Dadaist, was very ahead of her time. Definitely art original punk, as they call her. Her work looks like it can be on a rock site or even on our streets as street art. Hannah Höch was an important part of the Dada movement and the queen in collage. Putting together images taken from well-known magazines, illustrated journals and fashion advertisements, she created a whimsical and amazing criticism on society when there was an immense social change. She was one a few females who took stand during this movement.  She also was a firm feminist and considered herself a part of the women's movement in the 1920s. Most of her pieces associated male and female into one character in her pieces. Her female/male characters may also have been related to her bisexuality and fascination with masculinity in a female. 



Dada effected graphic design through typography and photo montage. The Dadaists used to cut, rearrange, alternate and displace the type and images. This technique led to photo manipulation which then led to Photoshop.

'Self-portrait' by German Dada artist Hannah Höch

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