Sara Serfaty Dissecting the Roaring 20s: Dadaism 1/12/2014
8th Grade History
Dadaism was meant to be art that had no obvious meaning, but it turned into an art movement in European cities that lasted five to nine years which “opposed militaristic and authoritarian assumptions in society,” (Coutts-Smith 9), and it has been said that this is partially due to World War I. In New York, this was not the case; New York Dadaism challenged everything in society from gender roles to what was considered art. New York Dadaism lacked the militant cultural protest seen in the European Dadaistic cities. Furthermore, many claim that the official New York Dadaist Movement lasted for under a year, when Dadaist work was published in the single-issue magazine “The New York Dada” in 1921.
On February 2, 1916, Hugo Ball, the founder of Dadaism, put an ad in Zurich newspapers calling for “young writers and artists…with the object of becoming a center for artistic entertainment…visiting artists will perform their music and poetry. The young artists of Zurich are invited to bring along their ideas and contributions. “ The group met at a local café, and the attendees consisted mainly of World War I refugees. From them emerged a new type of art, Dadaism, an art form not meant to be visually appealing, but rather thought provoking and controversial.
Dadaist art forms appeared in New York City in 1913, in an armory exhibition, before the beginning of the Dadaist movement. One of the many works featured there was Marcel Duchamp’s painting, Nude Descending a Staircase which was made fun of and attacked. It was not considered to be authentic Dada but “behind its conception contained the germs of Dada.” (Coutts-Smith 53) This was where the soon-to-be key New York Dadaists artists, Francis PIcabia and Marcel Duchamp, gained recognition in the American art community, as the two artists’ works were featured there. In 1915 they arrived from Europe, fleeing from the war. Though New York was not a Dadaist focal point, they played with the same avant-garde styles as the Dadaists in Europe. While Dadaism in Europe showed opposition to war, New York Dadaism was driven by irony and humor. “New York Dada is in part a dada invention, it is dada because it is not dada.” (Blythe and Powers 22)
The Dada Movement by Francis PIcabia, shown on the cover, illustrates a popular Dada claim that their work was a “noisy alarm that woke up modern art” (moma.org) from former merely visually appealing work that did not stray from tradition. PIcabia’s drawing illustrated how the “Dada Alarm” was sounded in Zurich, with the wiring diagram of alarm. On left there is a battery with wires wrapped around it, but one of the wires does not really stray from tradition, the straight cord on the far left. This wire represents France, and it stays close to traditions until it reaches the alarm...