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Wgu Iwt Humanities Task 1

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IWT Task 1; Dadaism and Pop Art
Angela Costa
Western Governor’s University

IWT Task 1; Dadaism and Pop Art Artistic interpretations have changed and molded tremendously throughout history. Many historical artists found art as an outlet for what was happening currently in their time periods. Dadaism began in Switzerland in 1916 as a response to World War I. Influenced by the earlier Cubism, this style of art ranged from paintings, sculptures, poetry, and photography. Dadaism is well known for the way it ridiculed materialistic and nationalistic attitudes. They were un-conventionalist in every manor. The Dada artists opposed and resented the social classes who thought that they could control the working class. Dadaists were disgusted by the nationalism that fed into World War 1 and were against any form of group leadership or dictatorship. They were upset that the modern European society would allow war to happen and this is how they knew to protest the idea of war. And if war was to happen then any traditions in any facet where thrown out the window, including art. They believed the art at this time had no meaning and if they were to continue to create art, they would make non-art to show that they did not agree with the current dramas. Dadaist tried to separate themselves from society norms in every which way they could. Even the explanation of how they got the name “Dada” screams unconventional. Some say that the name “Dada”, which is French for hobbyhorse, was adopted from co-founder Richard Huelsenbeck, who claims that he came up with the name by “plunging a knife at random into a dictionary”. (Wolf, 2014) One of the core principals of Dadaism was the belief in freedom of expression and an anti-war support. Also, most of the artist wanted anyone, or more so, everyone to be able to enjoy and interpret their work regardless of their cultural background. It is hard to label Dadaism as to what characteristics they followed. The arts where intended to be very cryptic so that the viewer could interpret it in many different ways. They only followed on rule; to follow the idea that there are no rules. (Koenig, 2014) One of the more well known Dada artists was Marcel Duchamp. He bent all rules and norms when he put his sculpture “Fountain” on display. It was simply a man’s urinal with a fake signature from R. Mutt, of which he made up. He also was responsible for the updated and revised picture of the ever famous Mona Lisa. Only Duchamp put his own twist on to it. He added a mustache and wrote obscenities on the bottom of the painting. This really put the icing on the cake when it came to rebelling. The Dadaism movement had created a new spark all over the world, encouraging a new way of thinking about art. Pop art was derived from the Dadaist idea that anything could be transitioned and viewed as a way of expression. Pop art began in Britain in the mid 1950’s by a group of artists who called themselves the Independent Group. It wasn’t until around 1962 that it was introduced to the United States by the Museum of Modern Art. At this time, World War II had just ended and Americans were being bombarded with various mass marketing strategies and consumerism was pushed into and onto everyone’s laps. Pop artists wanted to find a way to separate their art from the aspects of modernism found in the advertising. What better way to do so then to make the art very forceful and bold? Pop art, which “Pop” being short for popular, took everyday items and isolated them outside of their usual context. This is done so that the audience can really visualize the item and observe it without all the noise in the background. This is exactly what the ever famous Andy Warhol did. He found a way to make a can of soup come alive and pop with color, therefore turning it into art and not just another item to purchase. Dadaist and Pop artist shared a few similarities in the way they became popular. One similarity between the two groups was that the leaders of the art movements felt as if artwork, and in some ways their own thoughts and beings, were becoming suppressed by society. Both revolutions where started around the times of the World Wars. Whether it was propaganda supporting the war, or consumerism celebrating that the war had just ended, marketing strategies were all around and suffocating or stifling fine art. Dadaist and Pop artists wanted to find a way to still be able to express themselves artistically and stand out at the same time. They did so by using items, objects, or even feelings that most would not think of being art worthy. They both used these ideas to make a statement and make sure the artwork was being noticed. By using everyday objects, they were able to incorporate and raise popular consumerism into fine art. Both groups also wanted to find a way to visually appeal to a new crowd and the general public, not just the mainstream art followers. They accomplished this by being bold, bright, and sometimes just outright weird. Dadaist’s were just a little more provocative than the artists of the Pop culture. Pop artists focused more on making commercial products and popular trends into art, whereas Dadaists wanted to elicit more anti-war emotions. Pop art directly descended from Dadaism in the way it mocked the art world by creating images from familiar items like those found in the supermarket, mass media, and the street. For example, Andy Warhol was one of the first to produce an image on an everyday object, mass produce this image, and call it art when he designed the soup can label for Campbell’s. The Dadaist helped open the door to this idea of creating and finding art in objects and putting it on display. As mentioned earlier, Marcel Duchamp was one of the first Dada artists to do so when he publicly displayed his urinal display called “Fountain”. It repulsed many, but others found it quite amusing and refreshing. Without the Dada gestures to be daring and bold, Pop art would not have came to be. Pop art relies on bright colors, bold choices, and satire to exist. Dadaism formed the pathway for the Pop artists to do so. They were the first group to go against societies norms. They did not want to paint pictures of beautiful women and strong men or pictures of lovely scenic escapes. They wanted something new, something different. Because of the Dadaists coming out and working their ideas, Pop art was able to become the sensation it is today. The historical significance Dadaism has on the art work today is huge. It opened doors to the modern and avant-garde society we see and follow currently. It allowed people to look beyond the routines of conventional art and really push the envelope on what they could do and how they could express themselves. It encouraged up and coming artists to break the rules and challenge standards. The ground breaking tactics of the Dadaist artists led to surrealism, abstract art, and performance art. Some say that without Dadaism, modern art would not exist at all. The first thought that comes to mind for me is the beautiful, yet sometimes crazy ball gowns the celebrities wear at the annual Met Gala. There are absolutely signs and symbols Dadaism and Pop art influence in the way they are designed and created. Dadaists were also the first to introduce collages and montages, of which Andy Warhol, and many other Pop artists, used frequently and still practice today. Dadaism opened doors to endless possibilities of atypical and extraordinary outward artistic expressions. Pop Art became popular because it was to art of the popular culture. It was the visual art movement that characterized a sense of optimism during the post war consumer boom of the 1950's and 1960's. It coincided with the globalization of pop music and youth culture, personified by Elvis and the Beatles, which helped it to flourish. Pop Art was slapdash, young and fun. It included different styles of painting and sculpture from various countries, but what they all had in common was an interest in mass-media, mass-production and mass-culture. (Collins, n.d.) Today, we find pop art in the comic’s section in our Sunday papers, in the ‘Pop’ music on the radio, and on the shelves of our local supermarkets. Pop art was a revolution in itself that arose from the Dada’s ideas and forever changed the artistic world.

References Koenig, David. (2014). Why is the Dada movement important?. Retrieved from .
Wolf, Justin. (2014). Dada. Retrieved from Dada. (2014). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from
Neil Collins. (n.d.). Pop-Art Movement History, Characteristics of Popular-Culture Arts Style. Retrieved from

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