Founder of Dada Art | Dada Art Founders
Historical Founders of Dada Art | Old Dada Artists
There are always some key figures in early art groups which later become the wholesome ideals of the early movement. This becomes more apparent when movements tend to shift away from their original intentions are separate into left and right wing schools of thoughts as what generally happens when movements become quite large. Below you’ll find a list of the key personalities in the early Dada movement ranging from true artists to muses who all share one ideology; that a work of art could be considered as life itself.
Marcel Duchamp is credited with changing the future of art in a way that very few artists can claim to have influenced. Having survived the lessons of Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism, which can be seen within his early paintings, he spectacularly led the American Dada movement. With the philosophies of previous avant-garde movements combined with a rejection of mass production, colonialism, and materialism Duchamp challenged the notion of what is art through the creation of readymades. These ‘readymades’ were his alternative to representing objects in paint and was his idea of presenting various objects as art themselves. These selections were often mass produced items which were available to all consumers by which he designated them as art and gave them a title. This notion sent shockwaves through the art world which can still be felt today as he both distorted and disrupted centuries of ideological discursive thinking about art and the artist’s role as a maker of unique handmade objects. Despite his refusal to be defined and labelled as adhering to any one particular artistic movement – much of Duchamp’s work can be seen as aligning itself with surrealists through the exploration of the mechanism of sexuality and desire. For this reason, as well as the notion that art should be driven first and foremost by ideas, Duchamp is often considered as the father of conceptual art as he steadfastly refused to follow any conventional artistic movement and refused to be put into a box by critics or his peers.
Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927)
This German baron’s widow became found her Dadaist nature in New York. Whilst she made a few artistic works herself in the form of paintings and poetry she also was featured in Duchamp and Man Ray’s film.The Baroness Shaves Her Pubic Hair. She was obsessed with Duchamp and it is rumoured that she was a fundamental figure in Duchamp’s famous urinal piece – which has transcended through the ages becoming more recently appropriated by Yoko Ono. Duchamp is rumoured to have stolen the credit for this artwork from Elsa as he stated in a letter to his sister that a ‘female friend’ of his ‘sent in a porcelain urinal as a sculpture’. Many art historians and academics are of the strong opinion that the urinal bears a strong resemblance to the work of Elsa.
Hannah Hoch (1889-1978)
Hannah was a leading figure within the Dada movement in Berlin. She specialised in collages and splicing images together from popular magazines, journals and fashion magazines in an artistic style heavily influenced by Cubism. Akin with all figures within the Dada movement, Hannah was primarily interested in providing a commentary on society of the time; which because of the war, the feminist movement, and drastic changes to production, was undergoing enormous social changes. Hannah quickly became a social critic and a lesbian who typified the ideals behind the liberated ‘new women’ of the Weimar Republic.
Man Ray (1890-1976)
In 1915, Man Ray met French craftsman Marcel Duchamp, and together they teamed up on numerous creations and shaped the New York gathering of Dada specialists. However, Man Ray was convinced that ‘all New York is Dada’ and because of that there simply was not enough room for a rival. As such in 1921, Ray moved to Paris and got to be connected with the Parisian Dada and Surrealist circles of specialists and authors. He specialised in the medium of photography but was also a master of multiple mediums and was often considered a spark plug of the American Dada movement. Once he moved to Paris though, he remained steadfastly connected to his true passion of photography. He eventually redefined the style of photography and focused on ‘rayographs’ the idea of producing abstract photography without the use of a camera.
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Kurt Schwitters was a standout amongst the most captivating rebels of the art of the twentieth century. His craft is perpetually aligned with Dada, albeit individual conflicts kept him from being accepted formally into the movement. An ideal shared by a lot of those considered to be Dadaists. As with Duchamp, Schwitters nature meant that he would never be completely dedicated to any singular movement, even one of dissent. His absence of enthusiasm for governmental issues separated him from the fundamentals of German Dada’s, as did his abode in Hanover as opposed to Berlin like the majority of German Dadaists. By 1918, at 31 years old, he had found that he was not on a basic level a painter, but rather that for him the embodiment of workmanship lay in the blend of existing materials. In 1919 he named his own type of composition "Merz," to flag that his photos were unmistakable from Cubism, Expressionism, or even Dada, and after some time he extended the name to every one of his exercises, including verse and performance.
Sophie Taeuber (1889-1943)
Her myriad of expression styles included painting, dance, woven artwork, drawing, embroidery, furniture and interior design, photography, structural planning, set outline and puppet making. She was one of the only Swiss members of Dad and curiosity being exemplified within her expression and artwork is her trademark. In Zurich, Sophie took an interest in the Dadaist exercises, dicing for Dada soirees at the Cabaret Voltaire from 1916 forward. She later began choreographing Dadaist works and making ensembles and sets.