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Modern Art - Dada History

Why Dada? (The Century Magazine, 1922)

"Why Dada?" is a thoughtful essay by Sheldon Cheney (1886 - 1980), a Dada enthusiast and founder of the American monthly Theatre Arts Magazine. This is a fine article which attempted to explain Dada to the American public and identified several American artists who subscribed to Dada principles.

" last years exhibitions the Futurists and Cubists joined the academicians in denouncing the Dadaists as fakers, charlatans, and ignoramuses who know nothing of the laws of art and only wish to shock the public into considering them a sensation! And the Dadaists get unlimited joy out of the situation, but hold to the center of the stage..."


Dada at MOMA (Literary Digest, 1936)

An amusing, if blasphemous, art review of the Museum of Modern Art's 1936 Dada and Surrealism exhibit.
The journalist oddly credited Joan Miro as the author of the Dada movement.

"The Marx Brothers of the art world are displayed, in all their unrestrained glory, in an exhibition of Fantastic Art in New York this week."

"An exhibition of this type is always easy prey for the practical joker. A similar show in Paris several years ago exhibited a shovel, submitted by a well-known but discontented artist as an example of perfect symmetry."

Click here to read about the contempt that the Nazis had for Modern Art.


Dada in Germany (Vanity Fair, 1922)

A segment from a longer article on the origins of Dada by the father of Dada. This column pertains specifically to how the movement took root in Germany as a result of the First World War.


Tristann Tzara on Dada (Vanity Fair, 1922)

An essay by one of the founders of Dada, Tristan Tzara (Sami Rosenstock a.k.a. Samuel Rosenstock; 1896 1963), who eloquently explains the origins of the movement:

"Dadaism is a characteristic symptom of the disordered modern world..."


Marcel Duchamp Returns to New York City (Vanity Fair, 1915)

Exempted from serving with the French military in World War I, the artist Marcel Duchamp returned to New York City where he triumphed during the Armory Show of 1913 - together he and his two brothers, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Jacques Villon, all showed their groundbreaking art. Marcel was the toast of New York and his modern painting, "Nude Descending a Staircase" was regarded as a masterwork.

In the attached VANITY FAIR article, Duchamp let's it be known that he crossed the submarine-infested waters of the Atlantic to see American art.


Paris Dada and Jazz (Vanity Fair Magazine, 1922)

Vanity Fair's Edmund Wilson (1895 1972), reported his view on Dada as it existed in Paris, the influence of Jazz and the art of Jean Cocteau (1889 1963). The article is subtitled:

"The Influence of Jazz and Americanization of French Literature and Art"


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