Dadaism and Surrealism

  • © Pablo Picasso

Dadaism and Surrealism

1916-1945

It was during the First World War that Marcel Duchamp created the first strange objects of Dadaism. These were "ready-made" objects, such as the bicycle wheel mounted on a stool or the urinal sent to New York in 1917. The Dada movement was formed in Zurich in 1916. Its name, meaning hobbyhorse, and chosen at random from a dictionary, brought together the writer T. Tzara and the Swiss painter H. Arp. The artists M. Duchamp, Picabia and the photographer Man Ray in New-York launched the Dada movement which became fashionable throughout Europe, especially in Germany with the photomontages of R. Haussmann and J. Heartfield. Stemming from the war, Dadaism aimed to look at the absurdity of the world through an acceptance of it.

In the 1920s, in the wake of Dadaism, Surrealism was foreshadowed by the Italian painter G. De Chirico who placed still lives strangely within the perspectives of a "metaphysical world". His friend, G. Morandi remained in a unique poetic world. Here we find again Picasso, Matisse and Braque, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Dufy and many others. Surrealism, devoted to the primacy of dream, emerged distinctly in 1924 around the personality of A. Breton. H. Arp, M. Ray and M. Ernst moved without difficulty from Dada to Surrealism. R. Magritte, P. Delvaux and S. Dali attracted a following. Dali was to become the most popular painter in France, after Picasso. The Espace Montmartre-Dali in Paris (18th arr.) exhibited his sculptures and silkscreen prints. Publications, reviews and exhibitions ensured the vitality of the Surrealist movement with Marcel Duchamp, in spite of the rise of Nazism.