Historical Events


Born in Romania, Tristan Tzara (1896–1963) made his first contribution to the avant-garde in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I, where a group of international pacifists had fled to escape the war. There they started the Cabaret Voltaire, a nightclub with a stage, presenting an array of outré artworks, performances, and concerts, as well as manifestos announcing a movement called Dadaism. Much less programmatic than futurism, Dadaism was only sure what it was against, not what it was for; the Dadaists could not even agree on the meaning of the word Dada. After the war Tzara moved to Paris, still the center of the art world, and founded the Paris branch of Dada. As was so often the case, one movement begot the next, and out of Dadaism emerged surrealism, whose chief advocate was André Breton. But Tzara could never accept the leadership of Breton and split off, continuing his pranks and activities as well as his involvement in various leftist causes throughout his life.

From Dada Manifesto 1918


Every product of disgust capable of becoming a negation of the family is dada; the whole being protesting in its destructive force with clenched fists: DADA; knowledge of all the means rejected up to this point by the timid sex of easy compromise and sociability: DADA; abolition of logic, dance of all those impotent to create: DADA; of all hierarchy and social equation installed for the preservation of values by our valets: DADA; each and every object, feelings and obscurities, apparitions and the precise shock of parallel lines, can be means for the combat: DADA; abolition of memory: DADA; abolition of archeology: DADA; abolition of the prophets: DADA; abolition of the future: DADA; an absolute indisputable belief in each god immediate product of spontaneity: DADA; elegant and unprejudicial leap from one harmony to the other sphere; trajectory of a word tossed like a sonorous cry of phonograph record; respecting all individualities in their momentary madness: serious, fearful, timid, ardent, vigorous, determined, enthusiastic; stripping its chapel of every useless awkward accessory; spitting out like a luminous waterfall any unpleasant or amorous thought, or coddling it—with the lively satisfaction of knowing that it doesn’t matter—with the same intensity in the bush of his soul, free of insects for the aristocrats, and gilded with archangels’ bodies. Freedom: DADA DADA DADA, shrieking of contracted pains, intertwining of contraries and of all contradictions, grotesqueries, nonsequiturs: LIFE.

In the “The Dada Manifesto 1918,” Tristan Tzara makes symbolic references to actual historical and cultural events.

In a short essay (3-4 paragraphs) explain how some of the images Tzara uses make reference to real-life events. Discuss at least two examples. What were the Dadaists revolting against and why? Refer to information about the historical and cultural context of Dadaism from the Introduction. You will also be able to get addition information from your college’s online library.

Please make this 1-2 pages and in APA format.

Please include a reference page and site sources within the paper.

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