New York Dada -- New York Dada: 1915-23 by Francis M. Naumann

By Foster, Stephen C. | Art Journal, Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

New York Dada -- New York Dada: 1915-23 by Francis M. Naumann


Foster, Stephen C., Art Journal


Francis M. Naumann. New York Dada: 1915-23. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994. 256 pp.; 42 color ills., 178 b/w. $60.00

Of all twentieth-century movements, Dada may be the one that was most assumed out of historical imperatives. In responding to what was perceived as nothing short of the failure of Western European culture, the deterioration of its cultural myths and ideologies, the impoverishment of its languages, the depravity of its moralities, and the self-destructive ramifications of its norms and conventions, the early (wartime and immediately postwar) stages of Dada tried to chart a course in the transaction and negotiation of a world that no longer made sense. Mounted out of a setting that no one could measure and that defied conventional contextualization--World War I, the "war of wars"--Dada committed itself to the deconstruction of lethal culture and its reconstruction according to more humane principles. Its success was constituted in the intensity and scope of its critique. Its efforts to organize and network itself were designed to guarantee, as best Dada could, the dissemination of its critique. Even following the war, the critique flourished, especially in Paris, where Andre Breton and company welcomed Dada as a useful means of critiquing, and putting behind them, a French modernism incapable of responding, in a meaningful way, to the horrors of the war.

Although such brief definitions, or defining principles, of Dada rarely satisfy, something like them is required, as reference point, in historiographically locating and introducing any discussion of New York Dada. This may be especially the case with New York, where one is compelled to maintain that (1) New York's was the "primal Dada" to which the European centers manifested affinities; (2) New York Dada was dependent on the example of European Dada, where the demonstration of real relationships is required; (3) history experienced at this time on of its cases of simultaneous invention; or, (4) in a way that is related to the third point, there existed a "zeitgeist," accounting for both New York and European Dada, which assumes that they shared some kind of causal base that should have resulted in related or parallel effects.(1)

Within the larger field of Dada studies, New York has understandably presented scholars with a series of special problems, which, stated in their extreme forms, address its priority in the movement (New York was Dada before Dada),(2) its rather tenuous relationship with European Dada (dependent on its distant cousins Paris and Zurich, largely by virtue of the presence of Marcel Duchamp--Francis Picabia arrived before Dada and left before one can reasonably date it to New York its embeddedness in the unfolding of history, or its virtual nonexistence (it was a historiographic invention of more significance to the Europeans than it was to the Americans).(3) Various authors' respective responses to these positions are based on their conclusions concerning the "spirit" of Dada, to which New York artists bear a significant (or insignificant) affinity; on the persuasive (or unpersuasive) evidence of links between New York and Paris Dada; on the sensitivity of New York artists to the pulse of history; or on the success or failure of New York artists to organize themselves into anything like a comprehensible Dada movement. Navigating a course between these positions (the author is clearly aware of the problematics of all of them), Francis Naumann provides a book of considerable merit without, however, directly responding to the basic question: Was there such a thing as New York Dada? From the evidence presented, it is not clear that we possess the basis for legitimately historicizing the New York group as a bona fide expression of Dada (this, it should be noted, does not change the fact that Naumann probably knows more about this New York community than anyone else).

What Naumann's book does achieve is impressive.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

New York Dada -- New York Dada: 1915-23 by Francis M. Naumann
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.