Art history-baroque 20th century: dada

Dada is a movement that can be considered a direct response to the structures of power, including the power of the Art Market, that lead us to conflict and war. While many people consider the movement to be utter nonsense, the Dadaists staunchly believed that their cause was to turn the world of art upside-down, and refuse to conform to society’s standards of what constitutes “Art.” 

For this week’s assignment, you will read the following on-line sources:

When you have finished your research, you’ll need to write a three paragraph summary on the Dada movement. As usual, each paragraph should be at least five well-developed sentences. Your first paragraph should be a general summary of the aims and methods of this movement. Your second paragraph should express your own, personal opinion Dada. What do you think of it? Was it effective? Did it matter in the grand scheme? Remember that your personal opinion counts! We’re immersed now in an era where the world of art was being questioned, challenged, and sometimes, outright rejected. Your third paragraph should focus on one particular work of Dada art. Please make sure to embed an image of the work you have chosen to write about. 

For the second part of this assignment, you must comment on at least three of your classmates’ posts, no less than three sentences per comment.

As this discussion evolves, consider your own relationship to art. Who has defined what constitutes “art” thus far? What were their motivations, and how did Dada respond to these goals? While it’s easy to dismiss Dada as meaningless, I challenge you to think outside the box and question the impact it has had on the trajectory of artistic evolution to this day. 

Three Classmates’ posts:

1. The Dada art movement was an era of art that took place during the bloodshed of World War I. It’s style was focused around angry artists who were forced to take refuge in neutral areas. Using their creative niches and alike minds, the artists created art that went against most of the ism’s that aided the raging war. The artists came to the conclusion that they didn’t want any part in supporting the ongoing war and would protest it by creating non-art. 

I think that the Dada movement was an effective, yet underwhelming movement that caused artists to band together while at the same time wasn’t as impacting as it could have been. In the world of art, the movement was a success and it showed that the artists were fed up with how the war was tearing apart people’s lives. They didn’t want to support the violence and carnage that came from it by painting about nationalism or materialism. It was effective because it caused people to stare and ponder its existence. In the grand scheme of their reason for creating it, I don’t think it was that impactful. They could have gone out of their way to use their voice along with their art instead of reducing themselves to childish antics just to make a point. All in all, the silliness and witty thinking behind it gives it an appealing quality that is both likeable and distasteful. 

The work I chose from the Dada art movement is a piece called Mechanical Head created in 1920 by Raoul Hausmann. First off, the simplicity of the piece is what I first noticed. From a simple point of view the art is just a dummy’s head with some mechanical instruments attached to it. Once you start to dwell and ponder it, you realize that it resembles something greater. The piece resembles an example of what controls the human mind. These instruments we use to aid us and simplify problems have become reliant tools we need to survive. No longer is the mind ruled by creativity and freedom, but is now influenced and controlled by external forces. 

2. Dada began in the 1916 out of an unthinkable place– Zurich, Switzerland. During 1916, Europe erupted with violence, and many wanted nothing to do with it. Those freethinkers, painters, sculptures, poets,  and so on gathered in Zurich, Switzerland at the Cabaret Voltaire to protest the war.  New York Dada began in 1915, and after 1920 Dada popularized in Paris. Hugo Ball was at the center focus of the new movement, and basically the founder. The art  produced by dada artists  is typically satirical and nonsensical in nature. This movement was a reaction to the war folly all around Europe. This type of art scared people due to the violence and obscurity associated within one’s reasonable self. The word ‘dada’ literally has no meaning, which was the point behind adopting the word into the movement. Dada was born to preserve freedom and promote independence.

In my opinion, I believe that Dada movement was effective in many ways. Dada is different and has a certain appeal about that is solely unique to dadaism itself.  It is wonderful because of the satirical and nonsensical approach to it. Dada is very important due to the amount of freedom within the consciences of the art itself.  Dadaism and surrealism go hand in hand, which is unequivocally important. I liked in the BBC presentation on Dada how it incorporated the use of the internet, especially when involving political satire and artistic ability. It really highlighted our modern day influence of dada; “shocking” in its own nature.

For my art piece from the dada movement, L.H.O.O.Q. is a work of art by Marcel Duchamp. Produced in 1919, the work is one of what Duchamp referred to as ‘rectified ready-made’. I think this art piece is quite humorous due to the original intention of the ‘Mona lisa’ by Leonardo da Vinci. To me,  I find it hilarious that Duchamp drew a satan like goatee, or maybe his original idea was just a plain goatee on the ‘Mona Lisa’ . It cannot get much better than that! The overall look to L.H.O.O.Q is much darker, which goes along with the background and the satan like goatee!

3. Terror and destruction loomed overhead European citizens during the 1916 war.  People were forced to move to neutral zones which were parts of Europe that were not at conflict.  A group of free thinkers gathered in Zurich and formed a protest movement against the war called DaDa.  The word itself intentionally had no meaning.  The protesters thought that the governments normalization of creating carnage and war was absolutely absurd. So the Dadaists responded by creating something absolutely absurd themselves; hence the meaningless name Dada.  The meaningless and pointless words that were often expressed through poetry or speech were a response to the meaningless and pointless war. 

I think that DaDa does matter because it makes some people happy, it helped people deal with the trauma of war through humor, it broke tradition and inspired artists to this day.  Dada didn’t have to completely stop the war to be successful.  Many valuable movements did not achieve their ultimate goal but they were actively pursuing something revolutionary and positive which counts for something.   When I think of DaDa I think of that woman who runs around the city dresses up statues and then giggles at her creation and the reactions to it.  Who is to say that doing that is not valuable to her?  If something like DaDA gives purpose to someone’s life and they are using it to make the world a little more funk so be it.  Historically, DaDa must have been a big relief from the nationalistic and materialistic art that was being painted.  War can be daunting and cause depression and anxiety even to those who don’t fight.  DaDa provides that relief while at the same time making a statement against war.  Those two things are hard to achieve at the same time.  I think DaDa matters because it allows for unbounded expression; which is healthy

Man Ray’s, Tears, shows a woman with tears made out of glass resting on her face while she looks away.  Her gaze shows signs of distress and the viewer is left wondering what caused that feeling.  The essence of this photograph could have stemmed from a bad breakup between the artist and his assistant Lee Miller.  The artist could have been trying to symbolize how superficial their relationship was through using a superficial gave and artificial tears.  Regardless of the inspiration for this photography it is still very aesthetically pleasing.   

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