Dadaism

"In those days we were all Dadaists. If the word meant anything at all, it meant seething discontent, dissatisfaction and cynicism. Defeat and political ferment always give rise to that sort of movement.


We held Dadaist meetings, charged a few marks admission and did nothing but tell people the truth, that is, abuse them. The news spread quickly and soon our meetings were sold out, crammed with people wanting to be scandalized or just after fun.

Between insults we performed 'art,' but the performances were as a rule interrupted. Thus hardly would Walter Mehring begin to rattle away at his typewriter while reciting some piece or other of his own composition, when Heartfield or Hausmann would come out from behind the stage and yell: 'Stop! You're not trying to bamboozle that feeble-minded lot down there, are you?' "
—George Grosz, The Autobiography of George Grosz [1955]

'What we call Dada is a piece of tomfoolery from the void, in which all the lofty questions have become involved . . .'

—Hugo Ball


'Dada means nothing. We want to change the world with nothing.'
—Richard Huelsenbeck

'Art is dead. Long live Dada.'
—Walter Serner

'Freedom: Dada, Dada, Dada, crying open the constricted pains, swallowing the contrasts and all the contradictions, the grotesqueries and the illogicalities of life.'
—Tristan Tzara

'We do not wish to imitate nature, we do not wish to reproduce. We want to produce. We want to produce the way a plant produces its fruit, not depict. We want to produce directly, not indirectly. Since there is not a trace of abstraction in this art we call it concrete art.'
—Hans Arp

'Dada . . . wants over and over again movement: it sees peace only in dynamism.'
—Raoul Hausmann

'I wish to blur the firm boundaries which we self-certain people tend to delineate around all we can achieve.'
—Hannah Hoch

"We should burn all libraries and allow to remain only that which everyone knows by heart. A beautiful age of the legend would then begin."
—Hugo Ball, journal entry, Jan. 9, 1917, Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary [1927]

'Invest your money in Dada! Dada is the only savings bank that pays interest in the hereafter!'
—Kurt Schwitters

'Art has nothing to do with taste. Art is not there to be tasted.'
—Max Ernst

'I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.:
—Marcel Duchamp

'Dada talks with you, it is everything, it includes everything, it belongs to all religions, can be neither victory nor defeat, it lives in space and not in time.'
—Francis Picabia

'It’s not Dada that is nonsense--but the essence of our age that is nonsense.'
—The Dadaists

'What is generally termed reality is, to be precise, a frothy nothing.'
—Hugo Ball

'No more painters, no more scribblers, no more musicians, no more sculptors, no more religions, no more royalists, no more radicals, no more imperialists, no more anarchists, no more socialists, no more communists, no more proletariat, no more democrats, no more republicans, no more bourgeois, no more aristocrats, no more arms, no more police, no more nations, an end at last to all this stupidity, nothing left, nothing at all, nothing, nothing.'
—Louis Aragon, 'Manifesto of the Dada Movement,' 1920

'Dada is like your hopes: nothing
like your paradise: nothing
like your idols: nothing
like your heroes: nothing
like your artists: nothing
like your religions: nothing'
—Francis Picabia

'By July 1916, Dada was a Zurich sensation, this while the Battle of the Somme accrued its grisly statistics: roughly 500,000 German casualties, 200,000 French and 420,000 British. The military incompetence and arrogance of those in power escalated to an unfathomable scale. Hans Arp wrote, ‘We had a dim premonition that power-mad gangsters would one day use art itself as a way of deadening men’s minds.’'
—'Gaga for Dada,' The New York Times Style Magazine, Fall 2005

'Cabaret Voltaire. Under this name a group of young artists and writers has been formed whose aim is to create a centre for artistic entertainment. The idea of the cabaret will be that guest artists will come and give musical performances and readings at the daily meetings. The young artists of Zurich, whatever their orientation, are invited to come along with suggestions and contributions of all kinds.'
—Press Notice, Zurich, February 2, 1916

CODA
"Those postpunk years from 1978 to 1984 saw the systematic ransacking of twentieth-century modernist art and literature. The entire postpunk period looks like an attempt to replay virtually every major modernist theme and technique via the medium of pop music. Cabaret Voltaire borrowed their name from Dada. Pere Ubu took theirs from Alfred Jarry. Talking Heads turned a Hugo Ball sound poem into a tribal-disco dance track. Gang of Four, inspired by Brecht and Godard's alienation effects, tried to deconstruct rock even as they rocked hard. Lyricists absorbed the radical science fiction of William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick, and techniques of collage and cut-up were transplanted into the music." —Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, 2005

SOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
The Autobiography of George Grosz, George Grosz [1955]
Dadaism by Dietmar Elger, 2004
Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary, Hugo Ball [1927]

User Comments - Add a Comment
Raymond - 2013-06-15 18:10:10

Here's another good dada quote for you: "The important thing about Dada, it seems to me, is that Dadaists despised what is commonly regarded as art, but put the whole universe on the lofty throne of art." - Hans Arp