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?





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.

Andre Breton

Andre breton was a French writer, poet, anarchist and anti-fascist. He is best known as one of the founder’s of Surrealism. He started his career of studying medicine and psychiatry. Then, during World War I he worked in a neurological ward in Nantes, where he met Jacques Vaché, whose anti-social attitude and disgust for established artistic tradition considerably influenced Breton and his future works. André Breton was one of the original member’s of the Dada group who later went on to start and lead the Surrealist movement in 1924.

That same year he published the Surrealist Manifesto, which he used to defined the “nature” of Surrealism and the mode of expressing its view of reality. He defines surrealism as “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” Breton’s connections to the dadaist moment are shown in his claims that surrealism has no aesthetic concentration.  The core focus of the dada movement was the rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works that concentrated on anti-war politics. He also used a great deal of absurdist humor, further demonstrating the influence of the Dada movement which preceded it. The Manifesto also confirmed the existence of this brand new art movement and revealed its members. Breton also discusses his initial encounter with the surreal in a famous description of a hypnagogic state he experienced in which a strange phrase inexplicably appeared in his mind: “There is a man cut in two by the window”. This phrase echoes Breton’s understanding of Surrealism as the juxtaposition of “two distant realities” united to create a new one. The text concludes by asserting that Surrealist activity follows no set plan or conventional pattern, and that Surrealists are ultimately nonconformists.

An early example of a Surrealist collage that fuses text and image was his Poeme. Breton wrote this poem the same year he published the Surrealist Manifesto. This poem has much more to offer than just a poetic expression, it reveals Breton’s increasing belief in journalism as a potent artistic form as the piece uses newspaper and magazine clipping materials as its source. The text is absurdist and constructs its own logic that would not make sense to a reader trying to understand it as traditional language, also influenced by Dada. This piece solidifies the idea of integrating text as an art form. With all the variations in fonts, size, and style he is able create a visual pattern through text, expanding it’s soul purpose, from primarily just readability, to a whole new form of visual communication.

Breton was a huge part of the Surrealist movement and his works had a lot of influence on future artists to come. He innovated ways in which text and image could be united through chance association to create new, poetic word-image combinations. His ideas about accessing the unconscious and using symbols for self-expression served as a fundamental conceptual building block for New York artists throughout the 1940s.Andre-Breton_POEME_c1924.jpg2e7bdd067b80546e3fb03ac1fdd8b33d.jpg

Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters was born in 1887 in Hanover, Germany. He was mainly associated with the Dada movement but he was also in the Constructivist and surrealist movements as well. Along with graphic design, he worked with paint, sculpture, poetry, collages and typography. In 1918, he was invited to exhibit his abstract paintings at Herwart Walden’s gallery in Berlin. There, he associated himself with the Berlin Dadaist but pretty soon was rejected by them and because of this, the term Merz was created.

“Merz” became an umbrella term for his dada-like art. It was kind of like his brand name for majority of his artworks, not only that, but he used it so often that he ended up referring to himself as “Kurt Merz Schwitters” or just “Merz.  He was known for using papers found on the street to make art. He then used that art to make political statements. His works mirror his environment and activities in his daily life because he would use almost anything to create his collages with, even receipts, newspapers, etc. His works juxtaposed Abstraction and realism, Art and life.

Below, is one of Schwitters’ collages called En Morn (1947). This piece was made to be a poster and cover page of Tate’s Brittan exhibition. The collage is made up of different types of papers, newspapers, and magazines. The focal point of this image is the picture of the girl on the right side of the cover. Below her is an upside down picture of a man. These two pieces are surrounded by cutouts that are laid on top of one another. At the very bottom are words that run across from one side of the image to the next which read, “These are the things we are fighting for.”


Schwitters’ collage style spread through Europe and even the United States. He will be known for “Merz” because it influenced the graphic design works the most. The Merz images are known to be his greatest contribution to 20th century art. He also thrived in making the official typeface of Hanover, Futura. His style of work later inspired the works of many successful Dadaist artists.


Work cited:

Webster, Gwenda. “Kurt Schwitters.” Kurt Schwitters. N.p. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2016. <;


Marinetti’s introduction of Futurism

The artist known as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was an Italian poet unlike many of the avant-garde of the time. At a time of dynamic cultural and industrial change within Europe and much of the world, a division had formed around the merits of technological growth and its relationship to the natural world. Marinetti took the side of the hard right, publishing the Futurist Manifesto on the 5th of February 1909 in La gazzetta dell’Emilia. With its publication came about the start of the Futurist movement, calling for a rejection of the past, and a celebration of speed, machinery, violence, youth and industry. Futurist artists experimented with the fragmentation of form, the collapsing of time and space, the depiction of dynamic motion, and dizzying perspectives. Marinetti, like many other Italian Futurist at the time, wanted a modernization and cultural rejuvenation of Italy, whatever the cost. For Marinetti, war was the perfect solution for a new and powerful Italy, a view that is represented in many of his works, most notably “Zang Tumb Tumb” c.1914. Despite a distinct style in the early Futurist movement, works like this offer a look into the spirit of the futurist movement and Marinetti’s loathing of the old.

As a political writer and poet, Marinettis works emulated the feelings and aggression of his environment. Written just one year before Italy’s entry into the First World War, “Zang Tumb Tumb” acted as a precursor to the violence, a visual and auditory glorification of war. The book is an account of the battle of Adrianopolis (Turkey) in 1912 in which the author volunteered as a Futurist-soldier. Its use of strong visual language (most notably in the cover) sets up an image of battle, set up bold and confident as a solute to the practice. It does so through different typefaces, some hand-designed, of various size. The tuuumb repeated on the cover emulates the sound of battle, ringing and dynamically growing. The title of the work is written skewed and bold along the Tumb, continuing the visual representation of the intensity and chaos of battle. Despite the intensity and movement of the cover, the image of the war is made in a encouraging manner rather than fearful. The onomatopoeias ring with valiance and confidence, seemingly encouraging the act.


“Zang Tumb Tumb” Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1914

Not but one year after the publication of “Zang Tumb Tumb” Italy had joined the war and had begun a movement into fascism and aggression, a reflection of Marinetti’s will. His publication of the manifesto brought about an era that linked up to Italy’s place in the world, inspiring many like Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Gino Severini, and Giacomo Balla. Although much of Marinettis credibility and favor ran dry with his support of Mussalini and fascism, his influence of the culture of art in Italy cannot be denied. His vision for Italy would hold strong for many decades until fascism finally ended in Italy.