The Dada Movement was an artistic movement that originated in Zurich during the First World War. Dada was deep rooted in protest about the war. Dadaist artists emerged in many countries, particularly in Germany, Central Europe and in North America. Dada art in Germany was largely centred in Berlin.
Dadaism started in Zurich in 1916 at a Nightclub called Caberet Voltaire. As Zurich was in neutral Switzerland it attracted disaffected artists, musicians and writers from across Europe. In the relative safety of Zurich they could meet, discuss their thoughts and freely express their opinions about the war and other issues.
The Dada Movement made its first known appearance in Germany in 1918 when Huelsenbeck gave a speech about Dada to an audience in Berlin. Soon, other artists and writers were using the Dada principles to express their feelings. Some, like George Grosz and Hannah Hoch used Dada to explore their political feelings.
In 1920 a large exhibition of over 200 pieces of Dada artwork was held in Berlin. The exhibition failed to make a profit, but is noted as a significant point in the development of the Dada movement. Following the Rise of the Nazi Party several pieces of artwork from this Dada exhibition were presented by the Nazi’s in their 1937 exhibition, Entartete Kunst, in which the Nazi Party showed artwork that they considered to be decadent and against the German people.
The Dada Movement in Germany at this time is important for several reasons. The artwork and pamphlets created by the movement illustrate the discontent of many Germans. It can be used to look at some aspects of German Society and the underlying feelings of people at the extremes of the political spectrum.
Leading Dada Movement artists in Germany at the time include:
- George Grosz
- Hannah Hoch
- Johannes Baader
The video below is a documentary about the History of the Dada Movement. It is not specific to Dadaism in Germany.