"Dada places before action and above all: doubt. Dada doubts everything. Dada is an armadillo. Everything is Dada, too. Beware of Dada." While these words give a somewhat chaotic definition for this movement, whose name was taken at random from a dictionary, they are in fact a faithful expression of the intentions of its members. In 1916, in the heart of a Germany bruised by World War I, artists regrouped around the poet Tristan Tzara and chose, in a spirit of hope and rebellion, to demythologise art. For the rigor of drawing and harmony of colours, artists such as Picabia, Arp, and Man Ray substituted movement and random luck. The work of art was no longer, therefore, the result of a particular plan or the expression of concepts, but rather the result of a game of chance. "Dada is neither a dogma, nor a school, but more a constellation of individuals and free facets." It is these free electrons that the author captures here so as to help the reader understand how art evolved to produce such works as Marcel Duchamp's Fountain.
Nathalia Brodskaïa is a curator at The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. She has published monographs on Rousseau, Renoir, Derain, Vlaminck, and Van Dongen, as well as many books on the Fauves and Naïve Art. She is currently working on a study of French painters at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
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