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Henri Béhar

(b Paris, Oct 3, 1897; d Paris, Dec 24, 1982).

French writer. He took up writing as a career after studying medicine during World War I. He was mobilized in 1917 at the same time as his friend André Breton, with whom he had contributed poems to Pierre Reverdy’s Nord-Sud. His first critical article, ‘Du décor’, published in Le Film (16 Sept 1918), praised the novelty of the cinema and the aims of modern life, which he defined as progress, novelty of experience, liberty of artistic expression and inspiration of love. These were his main concerns when he founded the review Littérature (1919), together with Breton and the French writer Philippe Soupault. Fascinated by Tristan Tzara and by the collages of Max Ernst, he wrote his poems Feu de joie (Paris, 1920) and his parodic stories Anicet and Les Aventures de Télémaque (both Paris, 1922) under the influence of Dada, whose techniques he borrowed and to which he added his own insolence. Experimentation with subconscious motivations led to the formation of the ...

Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 16 September 1886, in Strasbourg; died 7 June 1966, in Basel.

Collage artist, engraver, sculptor, draughtsman, illustrator, poet.

Dadaism.

Der Moderne Bund, Dadaist groups in Zurich and Cologne, Artistes Radicaux, Das Neue Leben, Paris Surrealist Group, Abstraction-Création.

Hans Arp joined the École des Arts et Métiers in Strasbourg in 1902, at the age of 16. In 1903 he began painting and contributed to a local magazine. In 1904 he made his first trip to Paris. From 1905 to 1907 he studied under Ludwig von Hoffmann at the fine arts academy in Weimar, where he attended modern art exhibitions. He returned to Strasbourg, which his family then left for Weggis, on the edge of the Lac des Quatre Cantons in Switzerland. Between 1908 and 1910 he made a second trip to Paris and worked for a time at the Académie Julian. In Weggis he completed his first Abstract compositions and learned the art of modelling. In 1911 he co-founded the group...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Born 21 June 1876, in Stuttgart; died 15 January 1955, in Bavaria.

Architect, photomontage artist, collage artist, writer.

Dadaism.

Johannes Baader, who was active as an artist for three years, from 1918 to 1921, was a former architect who had created the plans for the famous Hagenbeck Zoo in Stellingen. After the age of 40, he became a follower and champion of the Dada movement in Berlin, calling himself ...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Born in Cologne; died 1927, in the Tyrol.

Poet, collage artist, photomontage artist.

Dadaism.

Johannes Baargeld was the son of a banker from Cologne and was involved in the revolutionary unrest following World War I as one of the founders of the Communist party in the Rhineland. He established a left-wing extremist newspaper of art and politics, ...

Article

(Gruenwald, Alfred Emanuel Ferdinand]

(b Stettin, Pomerania [now Szczecin, Poland], Oct 9, 1892; d nr Chamonix, France, 17 or Aug 18, 1927).

German collagist, draughtsman, writer and publisher. Although he came from an upper middle-class family, after serving as a volunteer in World War I he became a pacifist and a supporter of democratic socialism on Soviet lines. In 1918 he began a political career as a committee member of the mid-Rhine district of the Independent Social-Democratic Party, a Marxist party that had split from the Social-Democratic Party of Germany. The short-lived journal he edited, Der Ventilator, which published six issues in Cologne in February and March 1919, was a satirical magazine directed against the Social Democrat government in Berlin.

Having discovered the work of de Chirico and come under the influence of Dada, in autumn 1919 Baargeld became an opponent of tradition and convention in art as well, setting himself particularly against Expressionism. In November 1919 he and Max Ernst, who together can be said to have founded the Cologne branch of ...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Active in Switzerland.

Born 1886, in Pirmassens; died 1927, in San Abbondio, Switzerland.

Mixed media, poet.

Dadaism.

Zurich Dadaist.

Ball was a poet, producer and founder of the Dada movement in Zurich. His Cabaret Voltaire brought together all the intellectuals and artists in exile, who, at the height of the war in ...

Article

Peter W. Guenther

(b Pirmasens, Feb 22, 1886; d San Abbondio, Switzerland, Sept 14, 1927).

German writer and performer . After studying sociology and philosophy at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg he began working as a stage manager at the theatre in Plauen in 1910. He wrote a number of plays while in Munich in 1912. He also wrote poetry and was charged with obscenity for his poem Der Henker (pubd in Revolution, 15 Oct 1913) but was later exonerated on account of its ‘unintelligibility’. About this time he experimented with Expressionist painting. His plans to form, with Vasily Kandinsky, a new type of experimental Expressionist theatre in Munich were interrupted by the beginnings of World War I. Ball volunteered but was rejected for health reasons. He became a pacifist and published poetry and prose in several journals.

Ball became a leading figure in the development of the Dada movement, and he is credited with inventing the name. In 1915, with Richard Huelsenbeck, he organized Expressionist readings in Berlin. In May of the same year he emigrated with ...

Article

Henri Béhar

(b Tinchebray, Feb 19, 1896; d Paris, Sept 28, 1966).

French writer. While still an adolescent he came under the influence of Paul Valéry and Gustave Moreau, who for a long period were to influence his perception of beauty. From that time on, his poetic creation interrelated with his reflections on art, which like Gide’s were conditioned by a moral code. He considered that it is not possible to write for a living, but only from interior necessity; in the same way, painting must always derive from an irrepressible need for self-expression. These criteria guided Breton both in his dealings with the Surrealist group (of which he was the uncontested leader) and in his articles on painting, collected in editions of Le Surréalisme et la peinture (first published in 1928).

Breton’s family were of modest means. He was educated in the modern section of a lycée, without any Latin or Greek, and had embarked on a study of medicine when he was called up to serve in World War I. During this period he was drawn to poetry by his fascination with Arthur Rimbaud. His meeting with the aesthete Jacques Vaché temporarily dulled his interest in Rimbaud, and instead he turned to Guillaume Apollinaire, whose advice and friendship were a significant influence on him. Through Apollinaire he came into contact with Marie Laurencin, Derain, De Chirico and Picasso, and became friendly with the French poet and novelist Philippe Soupault. The review ...

Article

Belgian, 20th century, male.

Born 1896, in Termonde; died 1965, in Antwerp.

Painter, poet.

Dadaism.

Primarily an Expressionist poet, Gaston Burssens wrote several collections of poems. His painting was Expressionist at the outset, later developing into Dadaistic and Surrealist figuration.

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1884, in Naples; died 1977, in Livorno (Tuscany).

Poet, draughtsman, painter, watercolourist, sculptor.

Dadaism, Futurism.

Francesco Cangiullo was the elder brother of Pasquale Cangiullo. He participated in the Dada activities at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in around 1919. His friends Marinetti and Balla involved him in Futurist activities. He wrote theoretical works about Futurist theatre and became artistic director of the Compania del Teatro della Sorpresa. He was also a poet, and in ...

Article

Ruth Rosengarten

(b Lisbon, Aug 9, 1923).

Portuguese painter and poet. He studied fine art and music and in 1942 took part in the meetings at the Café Herminius of a group of students, including Cruzeiro Seixas and Fernando de Azevedo, engaged in Dada activities. His writings for Júlio Pomar’s art page in the newspaper Tarde in 1945 called for the politicization of art. In 1947 he was one of the founder-members of the Lisbon Surrealist Group but left, forming a dissident group called The Surrealists in 1948. Although this group was disbanded after two exhibitions (1949 and 1950), both Cesariny and Cruzeiro Seixas retained a surrealizing tendency in their work.

Although better known as a poet, Cesariny continued to be involved with the visual arts. Psychic automatism and the use of varied materials including found objects played an important part in the genesis of his images. His poem-objects are quirky and humorous, if somewhat derivative of French Surrealism....

Article

Allan Doig

(b Utrecht, Aug 30, 1883; d Davos, Switzerland, March 7, 1931).

Dutch painter, architect, designer and writer. He was officially registered as the son of Wilhelm Küpper and Henrietta Catharina Margadant, but he was so convinced that his mother’s second husband, Theodorus Doesburg, was his father that he took his name. Little is known of his early life, but he began painting naturalistic subjects c. 1899. In 1903 he began his military service, and around the same time he met his first wife, Agnita Feis, a Theosophist and poet. Between about 1908 and 1910, much influenced by the work of Honoré Daumier, he produced caricatures, some of which were later published in his first book De maskers af! (1916). Also during this period he painted some Impressionist-inspired landscapes and portraits in the manner of George Hendrik Breitner. Between 1914 and 1915 the influence of Kandinsky became clear in such drawings as Streetmusic I and Streetmusic II (The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeld. Kst) and other abstract works....

Article

Francis M. Naumann

(b Blainville, Normandy, July 28, 1887; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Oct 2, 1968).

French painter, sculptor and writer, active also in the USA. The art and ideas of Duchamp, perhaps more than those of any other 20th-century artist, have served to exemplify the range of possibilities inherent in a more conceptual approach to the art-making process. Not only is his work of historical importance—from his early experiments with Cubism to his association with Dada and Surrealism—but his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. Duchamp refused to accept the standards and practices of an established art system, conventions that were considered essential to attain fame and financial success: he refused to repeat himself, to develop a recognizable style or to show his work regularly. It is the more theoretical aspects implicit to both his art and life that have had the most profound impact on artists later in the century, allowing us to identify Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of the modern era....

Article

(b Lund, Oct 21, 1880; d Berlin, May 19, 1925).

Swedish draughtsman, film maker, painter and writer. After a limited education in Sweden he emigrated to Germany in 1897, where he received a commercial training at Flensburg that year. Around 1900 he began work as a bookkeeper at a watch factory in Le Locle in Switzerland, and from c. 1901 to c. 1907 he worked as a bookkeeper in Milan. There he attended the Accademi di Belle Arti di Brera in the evenings. In 1907 he obtained a post as a bookkeeper at the Lyceum Alpinum in Zuoz, Switzerland, where he was also allowed to teach art. His wife’s ill-health forced him to resign the post and, after a visit to Essen in 1910, he moved to Paris (1911) and became acquainted with Arp, Modigliani, Othon Friesz and Moise Kisling; he was particularly impressed by the work of André Derain, but he probably also studied the work of the Cubists....

Article

Valerie Holman

[Grindel, Eugène(-Emile-Paul)]

(b Saint-Denis, Dec 14, 1895; d Charenton-le-Pont, Seine, Nov 18, 1952).

French writer and collector. He was an innovative poet and was intimately involved with the Surrealist movement from its inception. He maintained a lasting friendship with Max Ernst, and his first wife Gala later married Salvador Dalí. He counted Pablo Picasso as one of his closest friends and dedicated more poems to him than to any other artist. Surrealist painters constantly stressed the importance of the inspiration they derived from the poets in their circle, in which Eluard was a central figure, largely because of his great sensitivity to the ways in which art and language could enhance each other. Not only did he publish numerous works dedicated to contemporary artists—notably Capitale de la douleur (Paris, 1926), La Vie immédiate (Paris, 1932) and Donner à voir (Paris, 1939)—but on many occasions he commissioned them to illustrate his poems: his collaborations with Max Ernst (Les Malheurs des immortels...

Article

German, 19th – 20th century, female.

Active from 1910 active in the USA.

Born 1874, in Swinemünde (now Swinoujscie, Poland); died 14 December 1927, in Paris.

Sculptor of assemblages, poet.

Dadaism.

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven returned to Berlin in 1923, having spent the years from 1910...

Article

Daniel Robbins

(b Paris, Dec 8, 1881; d Avignon, June 23, 1953).

French painter, printmaker and writer. He grew up in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, and as a student at the Collège Chaptal became interested in theatre and painting. At 19, his father put him to work in the family interior design and fabric business, an experience that contributed to a lifelong respect for skilled workmanship. The first paintings he exhibited, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902, were Impressionist in character, but the work accepted within two years at the Salon d’Automne showed a shift to social themes, a tendency that accelerated until 1908. Compulsory military service from 1903 to 1905 thrust him into the company of working-class people, arousing a permanent sense of solidarity with their aspirations and needs. The results were immediately apparent in the Association Ernest Renan, which he helped to establish in 1905, a kind of popular university with secular and socialist aims. He was also one of the founders of a community of intellectuals based near Paris, the ...

Article

Timothy O. Benson

(b Vienna, July 12, 1886; d Limoges, Feb 1, 1971).

Austrian photomontagist, painter, photographer, printmaker, writer, and theorist. He trained in the academic artistic tradition under his father, Victor Hausmann (1859–1920). In 1900 he went to Berlin, where he later became a central figure in Dada. His important friendship with the eccentric architect and mystical artist Johannes Baader (1875–1956) began in 1905. In the first years of the next decade he was associated with such artists as Erich Heckel and Ludwig Meidner and produced numerous paintings, including Blue Nude (1916; Rochechouart, Mus. Dépt.), and woodcuts, several of which were published in his book Material der Malerei Plastik Architektur (Berlin, 1918). These works blended Expressionism with the influences of artists then exhibiting at Herwarth Walden’s Sturm-Galerie: Fernand Léger, Alexander Archipenko, Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay, Arthur Segal, and others. Around 1915 his widening contacts with the writers Salomon Friedländer and Franz Jung led to innumerable theoretical and satirical writings that were published in ...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Born 23 April 1892, in Frankenau; died 20 April 1974, in Muralto, Switzerland.

Performance artist, poet, writer, painter.

Dada. Cabaret Voltaire.

As a medical student in Munich in 1912, Huelsenbeck met the poet and actor Hugo Ball. That winter he went to study philosophy at the Sorbonne and, as the Paris correspondent, contributed to Ball and Hans Leybold’s short-lived leftist periodical, ...