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Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels

Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels

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Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels – Jim Moir goes on an irreverent trip into the world of influential avant-garde art movement Dada. First broadcast in 2016 to coincide with the one-hundredth anniversary of the emergence of Dada.



 

 

Absurd, provocative and subversive, Dada began as a response to the madness of World War I. But its radical way of looking at the world inspired generations of artists, writers and musicians, from Monty Python to punk, Bowie to Banksy.

Jim restages an early Dada performance in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire, where the movement began. Among those joining him in his playful celebration of the Dadaists and their impact are Armando Iannucci, Terry Gilliam, designer Neville Brody and artists Michael Landy and Cornelia Parker.

 

Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels

 

Dada or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centres in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (c. 1916). New York Dada began c. 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris. Dadaist activities lasted until c. the mid 1920s.

Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent toward violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with radical left-wing and far-left politics.

There is no consensus on the origin of the movement’s name; a common story is that the German artist Richard Huelsenbeck slid a paper knife (letter-opener) at random into a dictionary, where it landed on “dada”, a colloquial French term for a hobby horse. Jean Arp wrote that Tristan Tzara invented the word at 6 p.m. on 6 February 1916, in the Café de la Terrasse in Zürich. Others note that it suggests the first words of a child, evoking a childishness and absurdity that appealed to the group. Still others speculate that the word might have been chosen to evoke a similar meaning (or no meaning at all) in any language, reflecting the movement’s internationalism.

The roots of Dada lie in pre-war avant-garde. The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 to characterize works that challenge accepted definitions of art. Cubism and the development of collage and abstract art would inform the movement’s detachment from the constraints of reality and convention. The work of French poets, Italian Futurists and the German Expressionists would influence Dada’s rejection of the tight correlation between words and meaning. Works such as Ubu Roi (1896) by Alfred Jarry and the ballet Parade (1916–17) by Erik Satie would also be characterized as proto-Dadaist works. The Dada movement’s principles were first collected in Hugo Ball’s Dada Manifesto in 1916.

Tristan Tzara

Tristan Tzara was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, he was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the anti-establishment Dada movement. Under the influence of Adrian Maniu, the adolescent Tzara became interested in Symbolism and co-founded the magazine Simbolul with Ion Vinea (with whom he also wrote experimental poetry) and painter Marcel Janco.

During World War I, after briefly collaborating on Vinea’s Chemarea, he joined Janco in Switzerland. There, Tzara’s shows at the Cabaret Voltaire and Zunfthaus zur Waag, as well as his poetry and art manifestos, became a main feature of early Dadaism. His work represented Dada’s nihilistic side, in contrast with the more moderate approach favored by Hugo Ball.

After moving to Paris in 1919, Tzara, by then one of the “presidents of Dada”, joined the staff of Littérature magazine, which marked the first step in the movement’s evolution toward Surrealism. He was involved in the major polemics which led to Dada’s split, defending his principles against André Breton and Francis Picabia, and, in Romania, against the eclectic modernism of Vinea and Janco. This personal vision on art defined his Dadaist plays The Gas Heart (1921) and Handkerchief of Clouds (1924). A forerunner of automatist techniques, Tzara eventually aligned himself with Breton’s Surrealism, and under its influence wrote his celebrated utopian poem The Approximate Man.

Terry Gilliam

Terrence Vance Gilliam is an American-born British film director, screenwriter, animator, actor, comedian and former member of the Monty Python comedy troupe.

Gilliam has directed 13 feature films, including Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), The Fisher King (1991), 12 Monkeys (1995), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Brothers Grimm (2005), Tideland (2005), and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009). The only Monty Python member not born in Britain, he became a naturalised British subject in 1968 and formally renounced his American citizenship in 2006.

Gilliam was born in Minnesota, but spent his high school and college years in Los Angeles. He started his career as an animator and strip cartoonist. He joined Monty Python as the animator of their works, but eventually became a full member and was given acting roles. He became a feature film director in the 1970s. Most of his films explore the theme of imagination and its importance to life, express his opposition to bureaucracy and authoritarianism, and feature characters facing dark or paranoid situations. His own scripts feature black comedy and tragicomedic elements, as well as surprise endings.

In 1988, Gilliam and the other Monty Python members received the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. In 2009, Gilliam received the BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement.

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Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels
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Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels
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Gaga for Dada: The Original Art Rebels - Jim Moir goes on an irreverent trip into the world of influential avant-garde art movement Dada.