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DADA (DAH-duh)

Art movement based on irrationality and irreverence
Common clue: Arp art; Anti-art art movement; Man Ray's genre; Art of the absurd; Baby's favorite art movement?
Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year
Frequency in English language: 19623 / 86800
News: Duchamp's famous urinal sculpture was actually created by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
The ABCs of Dada

I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste ~ Marcel Duchamp

Dada, or Dadaism, was a cultural movement that involved visual arts, literature (mainly poetry), theatre, and graphic design, and began in neutral Zürich, Switzerland during World War I.

Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals. Passionate coverage of art, politics and culture filled their publications.

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp. 1917

Deliberate irrationality, the rejection of the prevailing standards in art, disillusionment, cynicism, nonsense, chance and randomness characterize Dada. The movement was a protest against the barbarism of World War I, the bourgeois interests Dada adherents believed inspired the war, and what they believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society. The movement influenced later styles, movements and groups including surrealism and Fluxus.

According to its proponents, Dada was not art — it was anti-art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strove to have no meaning — interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend. It is perhaps then ironic that Dada became an influential movement in modern art. Dada became a commentary on art and the world, thus became art itself.

The origin of the name Dada is unclear. Some believe that it is a nonsensical word. Some believe it originates from the Romanian artists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco's frequent use of the words da, da, meaning yes, yes in the Romanian language. Others believe that a group of artists assembled in Zürich in 1916, wanting a name for their new movement, chose it at random by stabbing a French-German dictionary, and picking the name that the point landed upon. Dada in French is a child's word for hobby-horse. In French the colloquialism, c'est mon dada, means it's my hobby.

According to the Dada ideal, the movement would not be called Dadaism, much less designated an art movement.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dada".