Dada

Our cabaret is a gesture.. .Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect; Hugo Ball in Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, Zurich- Switzerland:
Dada hurts. Dada does not jest, for the reason that it was experienced by revolutionary men and not by philistines who demand that art be a decoration for the mendacity of their own emotions… ~ Richard Huelsenbeck
Invitation Card for the 'Dada in Paris Conference', Weimar, 25 September 1922 - design Theo van Doesburg

Dada / Dadaism, described in sourced art quotes. Dada [= Dadaism] was an art movement involving visual arts, literature (poetry, art manifestos, art theory), theater, and graphic design. Dada concentrated its anti war politic through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. The art movement began in neutral Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1920.


Contents

Quotes on DadaEdit

1915 - 1925Edit

Sorted chronologically, by date of the quote
Dada doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo. Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada. Anti-dadaism is a disease: selfkleptomania, man's normal condition, is Dada. But the real dadas are against Dada. ~ Tristan Tzara


  • Our cabaret ['Cabaret Voltaire (Zurich)', Switzerland] is a gesture.. .Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect.
    • Hugo Ball in his diary entry 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 3


  • We were all there when Janco arrived with his masks, and everyone immediately put one on. Then something strange happened. Not only did the mask immediately call for a costume; it also demanded a quite definite, passionate gesture, bordering on madness. Although we could not have imagined it five minutes earlier we were walking around with most bizarre movements, festooned and draped with impossible objects, each one of us trying to outdo the other in inventiveness.. .What fascinated us all about the masks is that they represent not human characters and passions, but.. ..passions that are larger than life. The horror of our time [World War 1., a. o.], the paralyzing background of events, is made visible.
    • Hugo Ball in his diary entry 24 May 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 4


  • Dada remains within the framework of European weaknesses, it's still shit, but from now on we want to shit in different colors so as to adorn the zoo of art with all the flags of all the consulates...
    • Tristan Tzara in his 'Manifeste de M. Antipyrine' - 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 4


  • Let's transplant the primitive soul to the ultramodern New York, inject his soul with the noise of the subway, of the 'el, and may his brain become a long street of buildings 224 stories high.
    • Joan Miró, in a letter to Enric C. Ricart, 1 October 1917; as quoted in Calder Miró, ed. Elizabeth Hutton Turner / Oliver Wick; Philip Wilson Publishers, London 2004, p. 47


  • Every product of disgust capable of becoming a negation of the family is Dada; a protest with the fists of its whole being engaged in destructive action: Dada; knowledge of all the means rejected up until now by the shamefaced sex of comfortable compromise and good manners: Dada; abolition of logic, which is the dance of those impotent to create: Dada; of every social hierarchy and equation set up for the sake of values by our valets: Dada; every object, all objects, sentiments, obscurities, apparitions and the precise clash of parallel lines are weapons for the fight: Dada; abolition of memory: Dada; abolition of archaeology: Dada; abolition of prophets: Dada; abolition of the future: Dada; absolute and unquestionable faith in every god that is the immediate product of spontaneity: Dada; elegant and unprejudiced leap from a harmony to the other sphere; trajectory of a word tossed like a screeching phonograph record; to respect all individuals in their folly of the moment: whether it be serious, fearful, timid, ardent, vigorous, determined, enthusiastic; to divest one's church of every useless cumbersome accessory; to spit out disagreeable or amorous ideas like a luminous waterfall, or coddle them - with the extreme satisfaction that it doesn't matter in the least - with the same intensity in the thicket of one's soul - pure of insects for blood well-born, and gilded with bodies of archangels. Freedom: Dada Dada Dada, a roaring of tense colours, and interlacing of opposites and of all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies: LIFE.


  • Only a radical cleaning of social and artistic life as, in the domain of art, is already done by Dada, which is anti-sentimental and healthy to the core, since it is anti-art. Only unscrupulously striking down any systematically bred amateurism in any field, can prepare civilization for the New Vision's happiness which is greatly and purely alive in a dew people.
    • Theo van Doesburg, in 'Is a Universal Plastic Notion Possible Today?', published in 'Bouwkundig Weekblad', XLI 39, 1920, pp. 230-231
    • this quote of Theo van Doesburg is one of his earliest Dada expressions


  • The [Dada] poem can be concocted from any ingredients so long as they are combined with chance:
    'Take a newspaper.
    Take some scissors.
    Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.
    Cut out the article. Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put
    them all in a bag. Shake gently.
    Next take out each cutting one after the other.
    Copy conscientiously in the order i which they left the bag.
    The poem will resemble you.
    And there you are-an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.
    • Tristan Tzara, (1920) Dada Manifesto on Feeble Love and Bitter Love - his recipe to make Dada-poetry; ; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 27


  • the streams buck like rams in a tent
    whips crack and from the hills come the crookedly combed
    shadows of the shepherds.
    black eggs and fools' bells fall from the trees.
    thunder drums and kettledrums beat upon the ears of the donkeys.
    wings brush against flowers.
    fountains spring up in the eyes of the wild boar.
    • Jean Arp, his Dada poetry lines from his poem 'Der Vogel Selbdritt', Hans Arp - first published in 1920; as quoted in Gesammelte Gedichte I (transl. Herbert Read), p. 41


  • I hereby declare that on February 8th, 1916, Tristan Tzara discovered the word DADA. I was present with my twelve children when Tzara pronounced for the first time this word which has aroused in us such legitimate enthusiasm. This took place at the Café Terrasse in Zurich, and I wore a brioche in my left nostril. I am convinced that this word has no importance and that only imbeciles and Spanish professors can be interested in dates. What interests us is the Dada spirit and we were all Dada before the existence of Dada. The first Holy Virgins I painted date from 1886, when I was a few months old and amused myself by pissing graphic impressions. The morality of idiots and their belief in geniuses makes me shit.
    • Jean Arp, in 'Declaration', Jean (Hans) Arp, October 1921


  • Dada doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo. Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada. Anti-dadaism is a disease: selfkleptomania, man's normal condition, is Dada. But the real dada's are against Dada.
    • Tristan Tzara, repr. in 'The Dada Painters and Poets', ed. w:Robert Motherwell (1951). Dada Manifesto on Feeble Love and Bitter Love, sct. 7, La Vie des Lettres, no. 4, Paris (1921)


  • 'Dada is political'
  • 'Dadaist man is the radical opponent of exploitation'
  • 'DADA is the voluntary destruction of the bourgeois world of ideas'
  • 'Dada kicks you in the behind and you like it'
  • 'Come to Dada if you like to be embraced and embarassad'
  • 'Dada, Dada über alles'
    • slogans - illustrating political German Dada in Berlin - printed on stickers throughout the city ca. June 1920, during the 'First International Dada Fair'; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 5


  • Dada is irony. (w:Katherine Dreier)
  • Dada is 'nothing'. (Marcel Duchamp)
  • Dada is a 'state of mind'. (Man Ray)
  • Dada is having a good time. (Stella)
    • Answers - illustrating the climate of American Dada - by the participating artists on the question, 'What is Dada'; in the article 'Dada Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out: It Is on the Way Here', by Margery Rex, published in the 'New York Evening Journal, 1 April 1921; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 7


  • [Dada would] take away from art its pricelessness and make of it a new and engaging diversion, pastime, even dissipation.
    • Marsden Hartley, (1921); as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 7


  • We, the founders of Dada-movement try to give 'time' its own reflection in the mirror.


  • Dada is able to mobilize the optical and dimensional static viewpoint which keeps us imprisoned in our [three-dimensional] illusions. Thus it became possible to perceive the entire prism of the world instead of just one facet at a time. In this connection Dada is one of the strongest manifestations of the fourth dimension, transposed onto the subject.. .Dada is 'yes-no, a bird on four legs, a ladder without steps, a square without angels'. Dada possesses as many positives as negatives. To think that Dada simply means destruction is to misunderstand life, of which Dada is the expression.
    • Quote of Theo van Doesburg, in 'What is Dada?????????????????', in De Stijl, The Hague, 1923; as quoted in "Theo van Doesburg", Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 134


  • [N]ever has a group disposed of such equipment for saying nothing, and never has a group gone to such lengths to reach the public and bring nothing.
    • Albert Gleizes (c. 1923), a critical quote, seizing upon the Dada practices to destroy words and syntaxis; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 37


  • Dadaism has launched an attack on the fine arts. It has declared art to be a magic opening of the bowels, administered an enema to the Venus of Milo, and finally enabled 'Laocoon and Sons' to ease themselves after a thousand-year struggle with the rattlesnake. Dadaism has reduced positive and negative to utter nonsense. It has been destructive in order to achieve indifference.


1925 - 1950Edit

  • There is a difference between sitting quietly in Switzerland [Dada in Zurich] and bedding down on a vulcano, as we did in Berlin.
    • w:Richard Huelsenbeck, [who left in 1917 neutral Swiss Zurich for war-torn Berlin] in his later memories on Dada; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 4


  • Dada hurts. Dada does not jest, for the reason that it was experienced by revolutionary men and not by philistines who demand that art be a decoration for the mendacity of their own emotions.. .I am firmly convinced that all art will become dadaistic in the course of time, because from Dada proceeds the perpetual urge for its renovation.


  • The Dada movement was an anti-movement which corresponded to a need born of the first World War. Although neither literary nor pictorial in essence, Dada found its exponents in painters and writers scattered all over the world. Max Ernst's activities in Cologne in 1917 made him the foremost representative of the Dada painters. Between 1919 and 1921 his paintings, drawings and collages depicting the world of the subconscious were already a foretaste of Surrealism.. .In fact his previous achievements had certainly influenced, to a great extent, the literary Surrealist exploration of the subconscious.
    • Marcel Duchamp in: 'Appreciations of other artists': Max Ernst (painter, sculptor author) 1945, by Marcel Duchamp; as quoted in Catalog, Collection of the Societé Anonyme, eds. Michel Sanouillet / Elmer Peterson, London 1975, pp. 143- 159


  • Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts. While guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might. We were seeking an art based on fundamentals, to cure the madness of the age, and find a new order of things that would restore the balance between heaven and hell. We had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a way of deadening men's minds.
    • Hans Arp, in Dadaland (1948); as quoted in: Cosana Maria Eram (2010) The autobiographical pact: otherness and redemption in four French avant-garde artists, p. 20


  • Dada aimed to destroy the reasonable deceptions of man and recover the natural and unreasonable order.
    • Hans Arp, as quoted in: Abstract Art Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson, London, 1990, p. 66


  • Dada was given the Venus of Milo a clyster and has allowed the w:Laocoön and his sons to rest awhile, after thousands of years of struggle with the good sausage Python. The philosophers are of less use to Dada than an old toothbrush, and it leaves them on the scrap heap for the great leaders of the world.
    • Hans Arp, in Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs, publ. Gallimard Paris 1966; p. 63


  • Dada exhibition. Another one! What's the matter with everyone wanting to make a museum piece out of Dada? Dada was a bomb... can you imagine anyone, around half a century after a bomb explodes, wanting to collect the pieces, sticking it together and displaying it?
    • Max Ernst, quoted in C.W.E. Bigsby, Dada and Surrealism, ch. 1 (1972)


  • Based on the metaphysical implications of the Dadaist dogma, [Hans Arp|Arp]'s reliefs between 1916 and 1922 are among the most convincing illustrations of that anti-rationalistic era.. .Arp showed the importance of a smile to combat the sophistic theories of the moment. His poems of the same period stripped the word of its rational connotation to attain the most unexpected meaning through alliteration or plain nonsense.
    • In: 'Appreciations of other artists - Max Ernst by Marcel Duchamp; as quoted in Catalog, Collection of the Societé Anonyme, eds. Michel Sanouillet / Elmer Peterson, London 1975, pp. 143- 159


  • What attracted me to Dadaism was its radicalism: Dadaism was not merely conceived as a new avant-garde artistic tendency; rather, it stood for an outlook on life which expressed a tendency towards total liberation, conjoined with the upsetting of all logic, ethic and aesthetic categories, in the most paradoxical and baffling ways. Having known 'the thrill of awakening', Dadaists proclaimed a 'harsh necessity free from all disciplines or morals', the 'identity between order and disorder, between I and non-I, between affirmation and negation as the radiance of an absolute art', and an 'active kind of simplicity, the incapability of distinguishing any degrees of clarity'. 'What is divine within us' — Tristan Tzara proclaimed — 'is the awakening of an anti-human action.'
    • w:Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar: An Intellectual Autobiography (1963), p. 19


after 1950Edit

  • [ Tinguely is a] Meta-Dadaist... [who had] fulfilled certain ideas of ours, notably the idea of motion.
    • w:Richard Huelsenbeck (1961), quoted in Calvin Tomkins (1965) Ahead of the game: four versions of avant-garde, p. 160


  • This Neo-Dada, which they call New Realism, Pop Art, Assemblage etc. [Duchamp is referring a. o. to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein,] is an easy way out and lives on what Dada did. When I discovered ready-mades I thought to discourage aesthetics. In Neo-Dada they have taken my ready-made's and found aesthetic beauty in them. I threw the bottle-rack and the urinal in their faces as a challenge and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty.
    • Marcel Duchamp's quote in his letter to the German artist Hans Richter in 1962; as quoted in Hans Richter, Dada Art and Anti-Art, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965, pp. 207-8


  • In the good times of Dada, we detested polished works, the distracted air of spiritual struggle, the titans, and we rejected them with all out being.
    • Quote of Jean Arp in 'Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 307


  • I did exhibitions with the Surrealists [in Paris, circa 1929] because their attitude revolted against 'art' and their attitude toward life itself was wise, as was Dada's.
    • Quote of Jean Arp in 'Jours effeuillés: Poèmes, essaies, souvenirs Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 406


  • With Dada I.. ..have in common a certain mistrust toward power. We don't like authority, we don't like power, To me art is a form of manifest revolt, total and complete. It's a political attitude which doesn't need to found a political party. It's not a matter of taking power; when you are against it, you can't take it. We're against all forms of force which aggregate and crystallize an authority that oppresses people. Obviously this is not a characteristic of my art alone-it's much more general, a basic political attitude..
    • Jean Tinguely, (1982) in an interview on Belgian radio; as quoted in: Andersson, Patrik Lars. Euro-pop: the mechanical bride stripped bare in Stockholm, even. (2001). p. 50


External linksEdit

  • Encyclopedic article on Dada at Wikipedia
  • Media related to Dada at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of Dada at Wiktionary
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