Dada or Dadaism is an art movement that began in Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement involved visual arts, literature, poetry, art manifestoes, theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the classic standards in art through anti-art cultural works.
Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a variety of media. The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme, pop art, and punk rock.
Many Dadaists believed that the ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war. They expressed their views in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality.
According to its members, Dada was not art, it was “anti-art.” For everything that art stood for, Dada was to be the opposite. Where art was concerned with traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics the Dadaists hoped to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics.
Later, the movement was described as “a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path. It was a systematic work of destruction and demoralization…In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege.”