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Dadaism and Surrealism

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Dadaism and Surrealism

Dadaism and Surrealism
The Dadaism art movement is part of history now. The movement began in Zurich and New York around the time of the First World War. ("Dada," n.d.) Dadaism was aimed at the artists who felt art created spiritual values. There was a focus on the failure of this by the endless days of war, the art of previous era’s had done nothing to create spiritual values in the followers mind. Dada was a protest against what they felt was the root cause of war. Dada was an “anti-art” according to Hans Richter, one of the founders of this movement. Dada was used to offend people; it ignored aesthetics and was generally preposterous in form. Many of the art displays were made of different mediums such as urinals, garbage, bus tickets, even snow shovels. One of the more known pieces from the Dadaism period is from Marcel Duchamp “Fountain” in 1917 it was simply a urinal. This shows us that with Dadaism they were able to create art even from objects that would normally not be considered art.
Surrealism as an art movement officially started in 1924. In 1924 The Surrealist Manifesto written by Andre Breton was published. Many of the artistic pieces of this era are dream like. Some type of art to wonder and marvel at, not an art of reason. ("Dada," n.d.) Surrealism is thought to have been formed as a reaction to Dadaism art movement, which was a protest of the carnages of World War 1. Surrealism was more focused on the positive outcomes of change happening in the world at that time. The common themes that can be seen in many of the paintings are the dreamy imagery that has an exaggerated analysis of reality. This is thought to produce a more truthful interpretation of what the mind may have experienced through dream. Salvador Dali used a technique which was coined ‘critical paranoia’ ("Dada," n.d.) The technique is very visible in his painting “The Persistence of Memory”, it has a dreamy look to it where images seem to melt; he is one of the most well-known surrealist painters.
Although both art periods occurred very close to each other they were both similar and dissimilar at the same time. Both forms of art were inspired by the desire of revolution, and defiance. Surrealism however was different from Dadaism. Surrealism sought to be productive, while Dadaism was used to offend and cause damage to existing art. Many times at gatherings discussing Dadaism there would be assaults on art and the culture that was dominant at that time. Dadaism sought to destroy social hierarchies. As World War 1 came to an end the Dadaism movement weakened as the artists began to move back to their countries from Zurich.
Andre Breton was involved with Dadaism but didn’t agree with all the groups ideas; from this he published the Surrealist Manifesto. ("Breton," n.d.) From his involvement he was able to shape and change surrealism to what he felt it should be. There was a drive for this movement to be productive. The art was inspired by psychoanalysis, showing art in the state of what may be possible only in dreams. There was a desire to create art that one could marvel at, not something of reason. Dadaism attacked art of old like the moustache and beard that Marcel Duchamp colored on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa. ("Dada," n.d.)
Both of these periods of art however do relate to each other in the common goal of influencing people through the many journals and manuscripts that they produced and sold. Through these many journals and manuscripts both forms attempted to define their views of the world and voiced their hopes to liberate art and culture from the limitations that had been placed upon it by society up until that point in time. Although neither had any profound impact on society, they did leave a mark in the history of art, which today still remain sources of artistic inspiration today.
In the surrealism era if we look at the art piece “Persistence of Memory” by Dali and Duchamp’s version of “Mona Lisa” we can see that they both used revolution and defiance in their art. Duchamp’s was more of defiance against the art world and how things had been taught up to that point. Dali also did something similar by taking every day images and making them look dreamy or melting, as some people have described his paintings. These two different paintings both turned the art world upside down, neither artist had any concern as to what others opinions were, they were revolutionaries changing things to what they thought were defiant and in line with the movements that they were following. Following the direction of the respective movements was important to both artists; both showed defiance in their paintings to the traditions of the art world. These two pieces share these and other similarities linking the two art movements together.
Dada and surrealism were both movements of poets and writers, there were also visual artists as well. In surrealism the artist appeared to be less innovative then those involved in the dada movement. In both movements there were manuscripts or journals written to help guide the followers of each movement. Dadaism was developed out of political unrest; in a similar manner surrealism developed out of social revolution. Both forms were formed out of anger towards society. Surrealism took Dada to a new level, in dada they had discovered the unconscious mind and dreams as sources of inspiration, and Surrealism explored the world of dream through a calculated method developed by Freud.
Surrealism has a great influence on art and culture throughout the later part of the 20th century. In the late 1970’s surrealism reemerged under a new names, both pop surrealism and neo surrealism. These names came about from the influence this period of art had on the art world. We may identify pop surrealism as Punk Music, or comix. Surrealism taught us to appreciate art at the subconscious level, not just visually or literally. Because of this influence, artists today are able to express themselves more readily and freely. Surrealism perhaps is one of the largest influences on art today. No other era perhaps has had a lasting impact like surrealism.

Andre Breton. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10,2013, from
Dada / Surrealism. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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