The Dada movement was formed in reaction to the horrors of World War I, as artists, poets, and musicians sought to counteract bourgeois society and nationalism through absurdist, irrational gestures. Dada began at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, when the poet Hugo Ball read aloud the first “Dada Manifesto”. “How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, Europeanized, enervated? By saying dada,” he proclaimed. From Zurich, Dada spread across Europe—most notably the German cities of Berlin, Cologne, and Hannover—and eventually into the United States, particularly New York City. Iconic works from this period include Hannah Höch’s kaleidoscopic photomontages, Marcel Duchamp’s readymade sculptures of everyday objects, Hans Arp’s chance-based compositions, and Man Ray’s experimental photography. Though Dada disbanded around 1924, the experimental movement paved the way for Surrealism a decade later and remains one of the most influential chapters of art history for contemporary conceptual artists.

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