My love for DADA stems from art class in high school. I recall sitting in a stifling hot classroom, wearing a very uncomfortable and unflattering convent school uniform and opening my enormous and heavy textbook, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: Renaissance and modern art (which I still have), my teenage brain entirely bored with art so far….wait, let me interject here. I enjoyed the art, I hated this theory.
Then there, at the top of the page, was a new chapter. Modern Art….queue sounds of angels singing here.

We’d finally reached something I understood, and when we got to Dadaism….there was a spark in my brain. I felt that, in my very long 15 years on this planet, that I’d finally found where I belong.

So, what is Dadaism?

Dadaism or Dada was a form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theatre, dance and politics. Dada was not so much a style of art like Cubism or Fauvism; it was more a protest movement with an anti-establishment manifesto.

Left: Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917. Photography by Alfred Stieglitz, via Wikimedia Commons; Right: Theo van Doesburg, poster for Dada Matinée, 1923. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Regardless of medium, each representation of Dadaism was rife with mild obscenities, humor, and nonsensical displays, and other characteristics outlined below.

Humor. Laughter is often one of the first reactions to Dada art and literature. …
Whimsy and Nonsense. …
Artistic Freedom. …
Emotional Reaction. …
Irrationalism. …
In Good Taste

Francis Picabia’s “Tableau Rastadada” (1920).Credit…The Museum of Modern Art, 2014 Francis Picabia Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

If you’re interested, I came across this documentary on YouTube and think it is well worth a watch for anyone new to Dada.

Dada: The Original Art Rebels documentary (2016)

Credits & Sources:

In Good Taste
Manufacturing Intellect