Artistic and literary movement launched in Zurich in 1916 but shared by independent groups in New York, Berlin, Paris, and elsewhere. The Dadaists channelled their revulsion at World War I into an indictment of the nationalist and materialist values that had brought it about. They were united not by a common style but by a rejection of conventions in art and thought, seeking through their unorthodox techniques, performances, and provocations to shock society into self-awareness. The name Dada itself was typical of the movement’s anti-rationalism. Various members of the Zurich group are credited with the invention of the name; according to one account it was selected by the insertion of a knife into a dictionary and was retained for its multilingual, childish, and nonsensical connotations. The Zurich group was formed around the poets Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, and Richard Huelsenbeck, and the painters Hans Arp, Marcel Janco, and ...
Dawn Ades and Matthew Gale
(b Brühl, nr Cologne, April 2, 1891; d Paris, April 1, 1976).
German painter, printmaker, and sculptor, naturalized American in 1948 and French in 1958. He was a major contributor to the theory and practice of Surrealism (see Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale, 1924). His work challenged and disrupted what he considered to be repressive aspects of European culture, in particular Christian doctrine, conventional morality, and the aesthetic codes of Western academic art. Until the mid-1920s he was little known outside a small circle of artists and writers in Cologne and Paris, but he became increasingly successful from c. 1928 onwards. After 1945 he was respected and honoured as a surviving representative of a ‘heroic’ generation of avant-garde artists.
(b Los Angeles, CA, 1960).
American sculptor. Kersels graduated with a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1984, and later returned to the same institution to take an MA (1993–5). From 1984 to 1993 he was a member of a neo-Dada performance group, SHRIMPS, and this clearly influenced his sculpture, both in terms of its echos of performance and its tone of light-hearted absurdity and futility. His photographic series Tossing a Friend (Melinda 1, 2 and 3) (1996; see 1998 exh. cat.) is indicative of his interest in the consequences of accidental movement: a woman is shown, in various positions, being thrown in the air by the artist. Objects of the Dealer (1995; see Pagel, 1995) suggests a more critical edge to his anarchic humour: all the mechanical and electrical components on an art dealer’s desk were wired up to different microcassettes and whenever they were used music would come from some of the 26 speakers. His well-known ...
Term used to describe a mid-20th century art movement in America. First used in May 1957, in Robert Rosenblum’s “Castellli Group” article for Arts Magazine, and then, more dramatically, in January 1958, in ARTnews with Jasper Johns’s Target with Four Faces (1955) on its cover. Between 1958 and 1963 the “Neo-Dada” moniker was picked up and used extensively by critics worldwide. Initially intended to describe the attempts of artists in the late 1950s—between Abstract Expressionism and Pop art—to transform a subjective painterly field through collage and assemblage strategies that incorporated everyday objects. The concept “Neo-Dada,” used mostly in the context of art criticism, suggested that the new generation was reprising the strategies of the Dada movement. The original term Dada defined a spirit of protest initiated by an international group of artists who came together in 1916, at the height of World War I, in Zurich in neutral Switzerland. The complexity of this historical background suggests the fallacy of reusing the concept of “Dada” to refer to the work of American artists at the dawn of the 1960s, most of whom seized found materials with an unbridled optimism....
Merry A. Foresta
(b Philadelphia, PA, Aug 25, 1890; d Paris, Nov 18, 1976).
American photographer and painter. He was brought up in New York, and he adopted the pseudonym Man Ray as early as 1909. He was one of the leading spirits of Dada and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of those two influential movements (see Cadeau, 1921). Throughout the 1910s he was involved with avant-garde activities that prefigured the Dada movement. After attending drawing classes supervised by Robert Henri and George Bellows at the Francisco Ferrer Social Center, or Modern School, he lived for a time in the art colony of Ridgefield, NJ, where he designed, illustrated, and produced several small press pamphlets, such as the Ridgefield Gazook, published in 1915, and A Book of Diverse Writings.
Man Ray was a frequent visitor to Alfred Stieglitz influential gallery, Gallery 291, where he was introduced not only to a dizzying array of European contemporary art, from Auguste Rodin’s drawings to collages by Braque and Picasso, but also to photographs by Stieglitz and others. Like many American artists, he was also greatly influenced by the avant-garde art exhibited at the ...
(b Berlin, April 6, 1888; d Minusio, nr Locarno, Feb 1, 1976).
American painter, film maker, theorist and writer of German birth. He studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin and at the Akademie in Weimar from 1908 to 1909. Until c. 1910 he produced academic figure drawings, individual genre scenes and book illustrations (e.g. for Boccaccio’s Decameron). His early paintings showed the influence of Symbolism and of Jugendstil. Between 1911 and 1914 he came under the influence of Cézanne and also of Expressionism. At this time his paintings were flat in character, but with a fluid, dynamic and expressive drawing style, strongly outlined forms and powerful brushstrokes, as in Kurfürstendamm (1911; Locarno, Pin. Casa Rusca).
From 1914 until 1916 Richter’s work was influenced by Cubism, and he realized his idea of the visualization of rhythmical movements, proportion and order. His aim was the ‘free orchestration of forms …as music has orchestrated time …with sound’. Following the example of Picasso and Braque, Richter chose musical subjects for his paintings, such as ...
Wilford W. Scott
(b Philadelphia, PA, Oct 15, 1881; d Philadelphia, Oct 13, 1918).
American painter and photographer. After training as an architect at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (A.B., 1903), he studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, also in Philadelphia, from 1903 to 1906 under William Merritt Chase, with whom he travelled to Europe. From 1907 to 1909 he lived mostly in Paris, where he saw the work of major avant-garde artists, including Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse, and benefited from contact with Leo Stein, an important collector and writer. By 1909 Schamberg had responded to the example of Cézanne’s paintings, including simplified and more solid forms in his own work. Following his participation in the Armory Show in 1913, Cubism became the dominant element of his art, modified in such works as Figure B, Geometric Patterns (1913; Fort Worth, TX, Amon Carter Mus.) by his use of vibrant colour. About 1915 Schamberg met Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia in New York through Walter Arensberg and in works such as ...