From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "Dadaism was a queer special development of Symbolism. the writings of the Dadaist grew directly out of the Symbolist tradition, as their hoaxes and practical jokes recall the perverse non sequitur capers of Jules Laforgue's "Pierrot Fumiste" and Tristan Corbière's stroll in Rome with a mitre, a dress-suit and a pig." --Axel's Castle : A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930 (1931) - Edmund Wilson
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in neutral Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1920. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature (poetry, art manifestoes, art theory), theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti war politic through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. The movement was further characterized by nihilism, deliberate irrationality, disillusionment, cynicism, chance, randomness, and the rejection of the prevailing standards in art.
Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals. Passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture filled their publications. The movement influenced later styles, movements, and groups including Surrealism, Pop Art and Fluxus.
Poetry; music and sound
Dada was not confined to the visual and literary arts; its influence reached into sound and music. Kurt Schwitters developed what he called sound poems and composers such as Erwin Schulhoff, Hans Heusser and Albert Savinio wrote Dada music, while members of Les Six collaborated with members of the Dada movement and had their works performed at Dada gatherings. The above mentioned Erik Satie dabbled with Dadaist ideas throughout his career although he is primarily associated with musical Impressionism.
In the very first Dada publication, Hugo Ball describes a "balalaika orchestra playing delightful folk-songs." African music and jazz was common at Dada gatherings, signaling a return to nature and naive primitivism.