Tristan Tzara


Tristan Tzara by Man Ray

Dada was an artistic movement which started in Zurich, Switzerland. The movement was an after effect of WWI and prided itself on “anti-art”.  Tristan Tzara is an artist/poet from the Dada movement and is one of its founders. He was born in Romania in 1896 and died in Paris, France in 1963. His main goal during the movement was to spread Dada to wide audiences. He accomplished this by publishing manifestos, which were intended to shock its audience. He practiced his art and poetry publicly at a local cafe in Zurich; this included some performances in which he would speak vulgar and illegible language.


To make a Dadaist Poem by Tristan Tzara

“To make a Dadaist poem”, is a poem by Tristan Tzara and is possibly one of his most famous works. He published the poem in 1920. The goal of the piece was to inform audiences of the key concepts in Dada art, specifically Dada writings. The poem is literally directions on how to make a Dada poem. The fact that it is considered a poem is a direct reference to “anti-art”. How is this a poem if all he did was cut out pieces of paper to display directions? Tristan Tzara provoked this type of response. Furthermore, he was informing the viewer that anyone could write a poem (“a work of art”) with these simple steps.

Tristan Tzara should be remembered as a key artist during the Dada movement. He spread the movement and informed audiences through his writings. He was a great example of Dada artists goals and “anti-art”. He revealed a more clear understanding of what Dada was, a question on bourgeois society. He continues to provoke people to ask themselves, what is art? What boundaries determine a work of art and who is the artist?





Man Ray

Man Ray (1890 – 1976) was the only American to have played a significant role in the development of both the Dada and Surrealist movements (“Man Ray”). In 1913, he became influenced by the works in the avant-garde Armory show in New York City. During this time, his paintings displayed his interest in Modernism through his use of flat shapes and the patterns they created, rather than realistic renderings of subject matters. He befriended Marcel Duchamp in 1915, and switched his focus to Surrealism and Dadaism, as his once static works began to include more movement. Both Ray and Duchamp made many attempts to promote Dada in New York City (“Man Ray – Surrealist Photographer – The Art History Archive.”). It wasn’t until a trip to Paris in 1921, that he began to experiment with photograms (“Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) | MoMA.”).

Photograms are pictures created by placing objects on photo sensitive paper which are then exposed to light. In his photograms, Man Ray uses shadows to create images, which emphasized the influence of light and shadow rather than the objects and image itself (“Man Ray – Surrealist Photographer – The Art History Archive.”).  By turning everyday objects into visionary, abstract images, he challenges viewers to discover their meaning (“Man Ray | Rayograph | The Met.”).

“Gun with Alphabet Stencils” (1924)

An example of one of his works is a photogram titled “Gun with Alphabet Stencils”(1924). In this picture, Man Ray has placed the alphabet stencils around the revolver like scattered bullets. By having the stencils scatter about randomly, this defies the viewer’s expectations and rational interpretation, as the letters refuse to assemble themselves into recognizable words. The other objects are used to balance the composition while having no literal meaning. (“Untitled Rayograph (Gun with Alphabet Stencils) (Getty Museum).”

“London Transport Keeps London Going”(1939)

London Underground bull’s eye

As for his work in commercial art, Man Ray primarily worked with photographs, some of which was featured in Vogue, Bazaar and Vanity Fair. In 1939, he was commissioned by Frank Pick to create a poster for the London Underground. “London Transport Keeps London Going”(1939) plays on the Underground’s most recognizable trademark, the bull’s eye. He takes its basic shape and likens it to a planet floating in outer space (Eskilson, 149-152).

He is known for being a pioneer in photography during the surrealist movement. His biggest contribution to the art world would be photograms, or ‘rayographs’ (which he decided to name after himself). Although he was not the inventor of photograms, which he believed to be, he was the first to use these ‘camera-less’ pictures in a way that revealed a new way of seeing, by using everyday objects to create enigmatic and dreamlike worlds and images (“Man Ray | Rayograph | The Met.”).



Eskilson, Stephen. Graphic Design: A New History. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.

Leigh, Brandi. “Man Ray – Surrealist Photographer – The Art History Archive.” Man Ray – Surrealist Photographer – The Art History Archive. N.p., 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Man Ray.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Man Ray | Rayograph | The Met.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I.e. The Met Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Untitled Rayograph (Gun with Alphabet Stencils) (Getty Museum).” The J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

Let’s Talk Raoul Hausmann

Image result for Raoul Hausmann

By the time the late 1800’s started to come to an end, new movements started to evolve for the art world. The Cubist and Dada movements featured many famous artists who made a mark in history. Raoul Hausmann is one man who was known throughout the Dada movement. His style of work helped influence many styles utilized today within our mainstream media. Hausmann was born in Vienna but in 1900 he relocated to Berlin with his parents. Painting was one of the first forms of art Hausmann learned due to his father being a painter. Raoul later began to do publications and poems for many different cultural magazines. This then led him to have Dadaist thinking as well as ideas. By 1918 Hausmann is in his full swing of the Dada movement when he participates in the first Dada soirées. From there is where Raoul developed his photomontage process.

With Hausmann’s development of photomontage it was a great tool he utilized to show satire and political protest within his work. One specific work Hausmann is known for is his ABCD self-portrait photomontage made in 1923. This work was made specifically to announce Hausmanns performance of a phonetic poem. At first glance the piece is all over the place. There are cut outs overlapping each other as well as the play on reality verses imagination. The information the artist wanted know is strategically placed throughout the work. In Raouls clenched teeth was a prototypical poem that said ABCD. Hausmann managed to also give the illusion of the tickets to the Kaiserjubilee in the hat created on his head.


Raoul Hausmann, ABCD, 1923

Image result for Raoul HausmannImage result for Raoul Hausmann

Raoul managed to take viewers into a transformed space when he created his photomontages. The way Hausmann broke the rules of traditional art was one of the key features to artists who produced work during the Dada movement. By the 1950’s the Dada movement attracted renewed interest by the United States. With the revival of the Dada movement, Hausmann began to correspond with many leading American artists. Raoul would discuss the Dada movement as well as the contemporary relevance. Today similar styles of photomontage like what Hausmann used can be seen in mainstream media. Designers may use this style of art in advertisements like nickelodeon used in some of their 90’s Ads.


“Raoul Hausmann, ‘The Art Critic’ 1919–20.” Tate. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

“Raoul Hausmann Biography – Infos – Art Market.” Raoul Hausmann Biography – Infos – Art Market. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp is known as being one of the most influential figures in modern art. Although his career was rather short, Duchamp is known as the father of conceptual art and a figurehead in the American Dada movement. His early works are said to be heavily influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism.

Duchamp was raised in Normandy, France and studied art in Paris, where he became well acquainted with modern art movements. In 1912, he submitted his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 to the Salon des Indépendants in Paris where it became the center of much controversy. Inspired by cubism and futurism, the work shows the motion of a nude figure walking down a staircase. The work was not rejected from the show but Duchamp was asked to either withdraw the painting or to paint over the title on the canvas. He refused and a year later submitted the painting to the Armory Show in New York City where the work was a success, yet still considered to be scandalous.


Marcel Duchamp,  Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912

After his experiences surrounding Nude, Duchamp became disillusioned with what he called “retinal art”, or art that was simply made to be pleasing to the eye rather than the mind. Duchamp responded to retinal art with his readymades, which were “ordinary object[s] elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of an artist.”  In 1915, Duchamp moved to New York and soon became affiliated with New York Dada, which was considered to have a less serious tone than European Dada. In 1917, he created his most famous work and readymade, Fountain, which was simply a urinal that Duchamp had signed as “R. Mutt.” Duchamp submitted Fountain to the Society of Independent Artists exhibit but it was ultimately rejected after much debate concerning that validity of the readymade as an art piece. After this rejection, Duchamp stepped down as the director of the board of the Society of Independent Artists.


Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

For fear of repetition in his work, Duchamp created a fairly small number of pieces during his career; however, his impact has been long-lasting. While Duchamp was heavily involved with many Dada artists and influenced by modern movements such as cubism and futurism, he himself subscribed to no particular movement. His refusal to create “retinal art” along with his unconventional readymades have influenced artists such as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenburg and movements ranging from Pop Art to Installation and Conceptual Art.

Theo van Doesburg

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Born in August 1883, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg, is the founder of the artistic movement called De Stijl. It is the process of simplifying the visual composition into a pure abstraction using geometric shapes. He was an artist with a wide range of talents; he is a painter, an architect, a designer, a poet, and an art theorist. Piet Modrian and Wassily Kandinsky inspired van Doesburg to paint geometric abstractions of subjects based on nature. His paintings are simplistic consisting of plain vertical and horizontal shapes and primary colors. From painting, he began to focus on the promotion of De Stijl movement and formed a group of artists in Germany and France. In reaction to his unreciprocated hope of joining the faculty of the Bauhaus art school, he established his own studio directly next to the Bauhaus and attracted many students to join the development of his ideas based on Constructivism, Dadaism, and De Stijl.

Two popular early abstraction works from van Doesburg are the paintings Dancers and Composition VIII (The Cow). Dancers is an abstract oil painting in the style of Constructivism. The painting consists of neutral-colored geometric shapes assembled to form two human figures. The figures represent the Hindu deity, Krishna, who is seen dancing while playing a flute. Van Doesburg created this work to express spiritual perspectives. Another work where he incorporated figure study is the painting Composition VIII, also called The Cow. Van Doesburg used figurative sketches to analyze the form of a cow and slowly create a simplified composition to justify his practice, De Stijl. The cow figure is transformed into a group of colorful, flat rectangles and squares placed in the center of a plain white canvas.


Theo_van_Doesburg_Dancers_1916.jpgDancers. c. 1916

tumblr_nb2v0m8Ypt1r1jmv0o1_1280.pngComposition VIII (The Cow). c. 1918

f63727ac827d85b072b88145435e2474.jpgA series of figurative sketches and transformation of the cow figure. c. 1918

Van Doesburg has been influential in different fields of contemporary art. He has a big impact in architecture. A German-born American architect, Ludwig Lies Van der Role, incorporated van Doesburg’s idea of using bold-colored geometry to help define modern architecture. Van der Role is an architect and educator who exemplifies International Style of architecture and is acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s greatest architects. Van Doesburg also wrote numerous theories and journals on geometric abstraction which influenced not only Modernist architects but also many graphic designers.


“Theo Van Doesburg Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works …” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. 

“Theo Van Doesberg.” Design Is History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Theo Van Doesburg.” Britannica. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Mies Van Der Rohe Society – Legacy.” Mies Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.