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Dadaism and Surrealism

Western Governors University

Dadaism and Surrealism
The Dadaism art movement is part of history now. The movement began in Zurich and New York around the time of the First World War. ("Dada," n.d.) Dadaism was aimed at the artists who felt art created spiritual values. There was a focus on the failure of this by the endless days of war, the art of previous era’s had done nothing to create spiritual values in the followers mind. Dada was a protest against what they felt was the root cause of war. Dada was an “anti-art” according to Hans Richter, one of the founders of this movement. Dada was used to offend people; it ignored aesthetics and was generally preposterous in form. Many of the art displays were made of different mediums such as urinals, garbage, bus tickets, even snow shovels. One of the more known pieces from the Dadaism period is from Marcel Duchamp “Fountain” in 1917 it was simply a urinal. This shows us that with Dadaism they were able to create art even from objects that would normally not be considered art. Surrealism as an art movement officially started in 1924. In 1924 The Surrealist Manifesto written by Andre Breton was published. Many of the artistic pieces of this era are dream like. Some type of art to wonder and marvel at, not an art of reason. ("Dada," n.d.) Surrealism is thought to have been formed as a reaction to Dadaism art movement, which was a protest of the carnages of World War 1. Surrealism was more focused on the positive outcomes of change happening in the world at that time. The common themes that can be seen in many of the paintings are the dreamy imagery that has an exaggerated analysis of reality. This is thought to produce a more truthful interpretation of what the mind may have experienced through dream. Salvador Dali used a technique which was coined ‘critical paranoia’ ("Dada," n.d.) The technique is very visible in his painting “The Persistence of Memory”, it has a dreamy look to it where images seem to melt; he is one of the most well-known surrealist painters. Although both art periods occurred very close to each other they were both similar and dissimilar at the same time. Both forms of art were inspired by the desire of revolution, and defiance. Surrealism however was different from Dadaism. Surrealism sought to be productive, while Dadaism was used to offend and cause damage to existing art. Many times at gatherings discussing Dadaism there would be assaults on art and the culture that was dominant at that time. Dadaism sought to destroy social hierarchies. As World War 1 came to an end the Dadaism movement weakened as the artists began to move back to their countries from Zurich. Andre Breton was involved with Dadaism but didn’t agree with all the groups ideas; from this he published the Surrealist Manifesto. ("Breton," n.d.) From his involvement he was able to shape and change surrealism to what he felt it should be. There was a drive for this movement to be productive. The art was inspired by psychoanalysis, showing art in the state of what may be possible only in dreams. There was a desire to create art that one could marvel at, not something of reason. Dadaism attacked art of old like the moustache and beard that Marcel Duchamp colored on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa. ("Dada," n.d.) Both of these periods of art however do relate to each other in the common goal of influencing people through the many journals and manuscripts that they produced and sold. Through these many journals and manuscripts both forms attempted to define their views of the world and voiced their hopes to liberate art and culture from the limitations that had been placed upon it by society up until that point in time. Although neither had any profound impact on society, they did leave a mark in the history of art, which today still remain sources of artistic inspiration today. In the surrealism era if we look at the art piece “Persistence of Memory” by Dali...
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