“The history of art is a parody of the history of politics.”

For our next investigation-you are asked to be inspired by the Dada movement in art and create a piece that is your interpretation of Dada by using the skills and techniques you have learned to date.  Your piece should incorporate at least 3 skills.

DADA: 1916-1924

Dada Dada Dada

Dada was: 

  • anti-war
  • anti-bourgeois
  • had political affinities with the radical left
  • embraced & critiqued modernity
  • irony
  • anti-art
  • kick you in the behind

“I feel sorry for nonsense, because up to now it has so seldom been artistically molded..”


To create a piece of art that is inspired by the Dada movement by using the skills and techniques learned so far in class.

Key Art:

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Marcel Duchamp‘s Fountain 1917-the first readymade.  Choosing a urinal was certain to challenge & offend conventional art.  Only change to the urinal was to turn it upside down, remove it from it’s conventional setting & sign it.  References a urinals purpose as well as famous Renaissance & Baroque fountains.  Think Retinal vs. Intellectual

Consider the following: what makes something art? What is art supposed to accomplish? Who is it for?


Hannah Höch Cut with a Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany 1919. Title refers to sexism, corruption & decadence of pre-war German culture.  She directly criticizes the culture by slicing it up & reassembling it into vivid, disjointed, emotional depictions of modern life. Highlighting polarities by juxtaposing images of intellectuals with politicians, radicals and artists.  Recognizable faces include Lenin, Marx, Kathe Kollwitz.  Even material choices question fine art vs. craft.


Raoul Hausmann‘s The Spirit of our Time 1920-depicts the artists disillusioned view on the German government & their inability to make the changes that needed to be made to produce change.  He used a hatmakers dummy to represent a blockhead who can only experience that which can be measured by the mechanical tools that are attached to its head therefore having no ability for critical thinking.


Max Ernst’s Chinese Nightingale 1920-Max Ernst focused less on politics & is more poetic focusing on juxtaposed images that are mixed with illustrations giving the photo-collages a more life-like if not bizarre feel.  For this piece, the body is an English bomb, but the arms are of a dancer and the eyes added to the bomb dissipate the fear associated with bombs.


“In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me…. Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz”. 

Kurt Schwitters‘ Merzpicture 46A. The Skittle Picture 1921


Man Ray‘s Rayograph 1922-rayographs fit with the Dada theme in that they are created by chance by placing objects onto photosensitive paper & exposing them to create ghost-like images.  He discovered the technique by chance as well-he was waiting for an image to appear in the darkroom and placed some objects on the paper when these images began to appear.