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Friday, September 12, 2008

"The true dadas are against Dada."


Untitled, 1920 by Max Ernst

"Dada blasted onto the scene in 1916 with ear-splitting enthusiasm: rowdy, brazen, irreverent, and assaulting. Its sounds were clamorous, its visions were shocking, and its language was explosive. Yet Dada was not aimless anarchy. Rather, the artists were responding to the violence and trauma of World War I—and to the shock of modernity more generally—by developing shock tactics of their own. They critiqued traditional conceptions of the artist as master of his medium by using prefabricated materials or relegating aesthetic decisions to chance. They scoffed at the conventional definition of artistic media, expanding it to include the stuff of modern life—newspapers, magazines, ticket stubs, mechanical parts, food wrappers, pipes, advertisements, light bulbs, and so on. Through their performances, publicity stunts, and manipulation of mass media, they further altered perceptions of what constituted a work of art by blurring the boundaries between art and life."
An introduction and exhibition to DADA at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.