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Dadaism: Beauty in madness?

By Atijegbe Faith

Arts over time has taken different dimensions and meaning, that is why one can just splash various pigments on a blank canvas and pronounce it as ‘Art’, while someone else would see the piece and call it ‘Trash’ not ‘Art’. 
Dadaism is one of such controversial creations.

Dadaism is an artistic movement in modern art that started around World War I. Its purpose was to ridicule the meaninglessness of the modern world. 
Its peak was between the years 1916 and 1922, and it influenced surrealism, pop art, and punk rock. It went against the standards of society.

Followers of Dadaism included Antonin Artaud, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dali. A later version, called Neo-Dada, arose in the 1960s.

Dadaism began gaining popularity around Western Europe specifically in Berlin and Zurich. It eventually moved to Paris along with one of the “presidents of Dada”, Tristan Tzara who would go on to “lead” the Dadaists of Paris.(the cofounder of the Dadaism current was Marcel Iancu, a Romanian Jewish national) His Works include The Gas Heart, Handkerchief of Clouds, and The Bearded Heart.

Dada had only one rule; Never follow any known rules. It was intended to provoke an emotional reaction from the viewer (typically shock or outrage).
If its art failed to offend traditionalists, then it hadn’t achieved its purpose.

Dadaism is also closely associated with the concepts of the grotesque, the absurd, and the macabre that were communicated through the arts slightly later in the twentieth century.

The idea of ridiculing the absurdity of existence finds its most poignant expression through the dramatic art of Samuel Beckett and the so called school of Paris, which included Arthur Adamov, Jean Genet, and Eugene O’Neill.

The name itself is reflection that the art was designed to seem meaningful when it is in fact a reflection of how overvalued societal norms and expectations had become.

It is generally believed that the founder of dada was a writer, Hugo Ball. It is said that in 1916 he started a satirical night-club in Zurich, the Cabaret Voltaire, and a magazine which, wrote Ball, ‘will bear the name ”Dada”.

The word “Dada” may be an allusion to an infant’s first words, such as “Mama,” and thus a reference to the failures of our ancestors to convey the meaning of life, create meaning within life, or ensure we understood how meaningless our life is.

Dada art is nonsensical to the point of whimsy. Almost all of the people who created it were ferociously serious, though (since they were protestants). 
Abstraction and Expressionism were the main influences on Dada, followed by Cubism and, to lesser extent, Futurism. 



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