The name Dada comes from the French word meaning, "hobby-horse." It was first coined in Zurich in 1916, considered the first anti-art movement at the time of World War I. Dadaism had a philosophy that was negative. It was anti-establishment and anti-social. Out of Dada there were different types of experimental art forms and techniques developed. The most famous of the Dadaists was Marcel Duchamp and his "readymades" or "works of art" made from "found objects." This concept illustrated the Dada idea that art could be made from anything.
Another Dada technique is called photomontage. This employed the use of illustrations and photo advertisements that were cut from popular magazines. This revived the Cubist idea of collage. Dada artists used these cutouts to construct puzzling and striking juxtaposition of letters and images. One such Dada artist Kurt Schwitters use of the collage included urban debris like bus tickets, wrappings, and other scraps of litter. He was one of the few purists of this genre.
Dada styles and ideas influenced other art movements, such as Surrealism, Pop Art, and Fluxus, as well as assemblage, installments, and performance. This developed into the Neo-Dada movement in America with such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg , Jasper Johns and Jim Dine who used modern materials, pop icons, and strange content. Dada had one rule and it was never follow any known rules. It's intension was to provoke emotional reaction from the viewer.
Dada is a kind of nonsense with a smothering of whimsy. Abstraction and Expressionism were the main influence on Dadaism. There is really no principal medium in Dada. These can range from geometric tapestries of glass, plaster, and wood. It was from this use of a plethora of mixed materials created in assemblage, photomontage, collage, and the found object gained it reputation as the Dadaist art. When one thinks of Dada they think "collage." The Dada artists found their idea of expression in the collage. Their goal was to create a message by patterns, content, and sudden interaction. This challenged tradition, in a way that the artist made references to contemporary life by using new materials and techniques. Dada was an art form that was innovative and strategic with its ability to create its legacy through the collage, photomontage, assemblage and found object.
The photomontage technique incorporated collage of actual photographs or photographic reproductions. The Dada movement developed the collage that was later discovered by Pablo Picasso and George Braques of France. The Dadaists like the cubists pasted materials like paper, fabrics, and other two dimensional materials into their works. It was a merging of art and everyday life. Instead of creating realism and still life they instead created abstract collages. They went far and wide in search of their source materials. Dadaist Kurt Schwitters made the use of bus tickets, calendars, maps, printed pamphlets, candy wrappers, lace, and many disposable ephemera. He collaged them together and they became a chaotic diary of life. A collage can be anything from clippings from newspapers, magazines, old books, ribbons, hand-made items, found objects, photographs, all cut and pasted to a blank canvas.
The collage can be traced back hundreds of years, but it was re-discovered in the early 20th century. The techniques of collage were first used as far back as ancient China and the invention of paper. The most common use of collage was used in medieval Europe. Gold leaf panels were used in Gothic cathedrals and gemstones were used in religious icons, images, and coat of arms. By 19th century hobbyists used collage methods in memorabilia in scrapbooks, photo albums and books like author Hans Christian Anderson. As time progressed collage extended to painting, wood, decoupage craft, photomontage, assemblage, and digital. Dada also evolved into assemblage a 3-D form of art that makes use of found objects of all types, sizes, and shapes. Marcel Duchamp was one of the first to promote this type of Dada 3-D art. His most famous work was titled Fountain, a urinal with a fake signature written on it.
An excellent example of how Dadaism and the use of collage is working in graphic design is a website called Found magazine. It's not a design website but it's main focus is collecting found objects. Many of the Dada collage are found in covers of magazines and music albums and illustrations. Today collage art has expanded to include works in digital media. Photographic collage art combines photographs to create new, and very unusual works. These techniques involve can be shrinking of large photographs to make small mosaic tiles. Cutting photos can be included in new images and taking multiple photos can create a modern, freethinking work of art. Some of the most stunning collage art used today are those done on the personal computer and with a wide variety of objects you can find. The rest is imagination.
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