Dada (dä´dä) or Dadaism (dä´däĬzəm), international nihilistic movement among European artists and writers that lasted from 1916 to 1922. Born of the widespread disillusionment engendered by World War I, it originated in Zürich with the poetry of the Romanian Tristan Tzara. Dada attacked conventional standards of aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation. In Berlin, Dada had political overtones, exemplified by the caricatures of George Grosz and Otto Dix. The French movement was more literary in emphasis; it centered around Tzara, André Breton, Louis Aragon, Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Man Ray. The latter three carried the spirit of Dada to New York City. Typical were the elegant collages devised by Arp, Kurt Schwitters, and Max Ernst from refuse and scraps of paper, and Duchamp's celebrated Mona Lisa adorned with a mustache and a goatee. Dada principles were eventually modified to become the basis of surrealism in 1924. The literary manifestations of Dada were mostly nonsense poems—meaningless random combinations of words—which were read in public.

See R. Short, Dada and Surrealism (1980); S. C. Foster, ed., Dada-Dimensions (1985); H. Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1985); R. Motherwell, ed., The Dada Painters and Poets (1951, 2d ed. 1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Dadaism: Selected full-text books and articles

The Dada Market: An Anthology of Poetry By Willard Bohn Southern Illinois University Press, 1993
Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s By Malcolm Cowley; Donald W. Faulkner Penguin Books, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Death of Dada"
A Concise History of Modern Painting By Herbert Read Frederick A. Praeger, 1959
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Futurism, Dada, Surrealism"
Masters of Modern Art By Alfred H. Barr Jr Simon and Schuster, 1954
Librarian’s tip: "Dada and Surrealism" begins on p. 137
The Place of Suicide in the French Avant-Garde of the Inter-War Period By Livak, Leonid The Romanic Review, Vol. 91, No. 3, May 2000
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Avant-Garde Tradition in Literature By Richard Kostelanetz Prometheus Books, 1982
Librarian’s tip: "Dadaism" begins on p. 17
The Avant-Garde Frontier: Russia Meets the West, 1910-1930 By Gail Harrison Roman; Virginia Hagelstein Marquardt University Press of Florida, 1992
Anarchy & Culture: The Aesthetic Politics of Modernism By David Weir University of Massachusetts Press, 1997
A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art By Ian Chilvers Oxford University Press, 1999
A Dictionary of Modern Painting By Carlton Lake; Robert Maillard Tudor Publishing, 1956
Dada and Surrealism: A Very Short Introduction By David Hopkins Oxford University Press, 2004
Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, 1870-1940 By Patrick H. Hutton; Amanda S. Bourque; Amy J. Staples Greenwood Press, vol.1, 1986
Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic, 1870-1940 By Patrick H. Hutton; Amanda S. Bourque; Amy J. Staples Greenwood Press, vol.2, 1986
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