Dada is an artistic Avant-Garde movement which originated in the beginning of the 20th century. After the First World War, many artists and writers felt disillusioned about the world’s capacity for war and violence. Consequently, many wanted to create work that would be viewed as ‘anti-art’ to protest against traditional institutions such as conventional art galleries and museums.…
Dada’s mission can be viewed as ‘rejecting the logic, reason and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality and anti-bourgeois protests in their works.’ The Dada movement thrived across cities such as Zurich, Berlin, Paris and New York throughout the 1920s and 1930s, creating artistic festivals full of artists, writers, and composers to create work that broke free from tradition and convention. Whilst the movement disbanded during the rise of totalitarianism in 1930s Europe, their revolutionary ideas and techniques has had a profound impact of the development of modern and contemporary art.
Marcel Duchamp spearheaded the American Dada movement through his pieces such as The Fountain (1917). This sculpture of a found porcelain urinal created great controversy in the artworld and has become recognised as one the of most powerful and influential pieces of art of the 20th century as it explores the very criteria of what is an artist’s role and what constitutes as art.
Hans Richter is recognised as one of the biggest contributors to the Dada movement through his experimentation and innovation with film and painting. Richter’s series of woodcuts and drawings Dada Heads (1917-1920s) are credited as some of the most influential artwork in the movement. By creating unrecognised abstract portraiture using free-style lines, Richter transformed the boundaries and limits of traditional portraiture into a new era.
Hannah Hoch pioneered the photomontage technique of cutting and pasting printed media and photography onto new sheets. Her innovative technique allowed her to experiment and create work that challenge ideas about gender roles and hypocrisies of the political left. Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Beer-Bely of the Weimar Republic (1919) is a fine example of her work as her photomontage used cut outs of printed media from the German Weimar Republic. This enabled Hoch to present social commentary in a humorous and exaggerated manner by using and manipulating the original context of the photographs.
Collage: Inspired by the cubists technique of cut and pasting paper media, Dadaists expanded their materials to include everyday items such as maps, tickets and wrappers to incorporate daily life into their artwork. Dadaists also invented a new technique of ‘chance of collage’ which involved dropping the torn paper material onto a sheet then pasting the material wherever it landed.
The ‘cut-up technique’ was used both by artists and poets to create word collage made out of printed media to consciously ensemble a Dadaist poem.
Photomontage, as used by Hannah Hoch, used or reproduced printed media to illustrate their views of the issues by manipulating and editing the material with scissors, paint and drawings on a large sheet.
Assemblage referred to combining pieces of unused and disregarded items such as rubbish to create artwork in forms of a three-dimensional hung collage or sculpture.
Readymade technique as used by artists such as Marcel Duchamp who would add small details such as a signature and title to manufactured objects before presenting them to be exhibited as artwork.
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Willie Nash’s At One with Four Walls And A Chair (2014) is a unique and intriguing sculpture that forces the viewer to deeply engage with the work. Nash uses sculpture to respond to the contemporary social-political environment by creating pieces that transverses across time and history. At One with Four Walls and a chair opens many layers and meanings as the sculpture presents a large table and small chair, with no walls despite the title’s suggestion. The absence of the wall allows the sculpture to be placed in any room, thus making the viewer become conscious of their own environment as the sculpture placement in a room becomes an integral part of the artwork.
Kareem Rizk’s Radio (2016) is a multimedia collage which has brought the dada collage technique into the contemporary art scene. By cutting, ripping and pasting materials of books, manage, postcards and catalogues, Rizk is able to create a diverse textured piece which opens multiple ideas and interpretations to be explored by the viewer. By placing ideas of nostalgia as the centre of the work through his use of old printed materials, Rizk’s Radio invites the viewer to reflect about past times and see how far modern life has come.