100 years ago Tristan Tzara and his Dada cohorts took art off the wall and showed it could be anything from a performance to a page in a magazine. Dada – the name of which is said to have either originated from the French dictionary or a brand of Swiss shampoo – was the quintessential anti-art movement, born in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. After centuries of painting and classical-themed sculpture came the first performance to bill itself as art: a bewildering and wholly alien mix of vaudeville, poetry written in three languages, riding crops, monocles and dance. From here, against political backdrop of war, artists like Hugo Ball and Jean Arp and Tzara were the first, or at least the most prominent figures to embrace the idea of art as protest and reject the idea of art as commodity – concepts that changed modern art entirely.
Publishing was an essential part of Dadaist ongoings, and homespun art and literary journals with radical design elements were all part of a campaign to spread Dada ideas like art propaganda. For what was slated to be his most ambitious project, the limelight-seeking Tzara invited more than 50 artists from ten counties to submit artworks that ranged from self-portraits, drawings, and book layouts for his planned but ultimately unpublished Dadaglobe.
For the centenary of the movement, curator Adrian Sudhalter has spent five years tracking down all the volume’s contents, now scattered around the world. They have been reassembled for an exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich and the accompanying book, Dadaglobe Reconstructed, both of which comprise photomontages and collages, book designs, essays and self-portraits and counts contributions from Hans Arp, André Breton, Max Ernst, Hannah Höch.
Dadaglobe Reconstructed is on show at Kunsthaus Zurich until 1 May before it opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in June.
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