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Dada refers to both physical art as well as a dramatic art method. It is also a type of prose whose primary proponent was poet Tristan Tzara. Dada originated around 1916, probably in Switzerland. No one knows where the name originated. Some believe that it is a nonsensical word. Others believe that a group of artists assembled in Zurich in 1916, wanting to form a movement, chose a name at random from a French-German dictionary. Dada in French means "hobby-horse".

The basis of Dada is nonsense. With the order of the world destroyed by World War I, Dada was a way to express the confusion that was felt by many people as their world was turned upside down. There is not an attempt to find meaning in disorder, but rather to accept disorder as the nature of the world. Many embraced this disorder through Dada, using it as a means to express their distaste for the aesthetics of the previous order and carnage it reaped. Through this rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics they hoped to reach a personal understanding of the true nature of the world around them.

According to its proponents, Dada was not art; it was anti-art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetic concerns, Dada ignored them. If art is to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strives to have no meaning--interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada offends. Perhaps it is then ironic that Dada is a precursor to modern art. Dada became a commentary on art and the world, thus becoming art itself.

Dadaism was succeeded by Surrealism.

Dada Manifesto

Bibliography Richard Huelsenbeck, Memoirs of a Dada Drummer, (U Cal press)