Jean Arp: Dada

Dada wanted to destroy men's pretences at reason and rediscover the natural,
unreasonable order of things.  Dada wanted to replace the logical nonsense of men
today by illogical meaninglessness.  This was why we beat the great Dada drum and
trumpeted long and loud the praisesof unreason.  Dada gave a clyster to the Venus de
Milo and allowed Laocoon and his sons to relax after fighting a several-thousand-year
battle with that fat sausage-snake.  Philosophers mean less to Dada than an old
toothbrush long since thrown away and so Dada leaves them to the great world leaders.
Dada denounces the devilish tricks of the official vocabulary of wisdom.  Dada is for
meaninglessness, which is not the same as nonsense.  Dada is as meaningless as nature.
Dada is for nature and against art.  Dada is as direct as nature.  Dada is for infinite
meaning and definite means.
      Dada objects are made from things that have been found or manufactured, plain
or complicated.  The Chinese a few thousand years ago, Duchamp, Picabia in the United
States, Schwitters and myself during the 1914 war were the first to invent and spread
abroad these toys of wisdom and perspicacity which were to cure human beings of the
wild madness of genius and bring them gently back to their place in the proper order of
things.  The natural beauty of these objects is a basic part of them, like that of a bunch
of flowers gathered by children.  Thousands of years ago, an Emperor of China sent his
artists to the furthest of his lands to find the rare and unusually-shaped stones he loved
to collect and he set them on pedestals alongside his vases and his gods.  This pleasant
pastime would never suit our thinkers, modern Jacks-in-office who lie in wait for the
connoisseur like hotel porters stalking customers at a station.

                                         Catalogue for the Arp retrospective exhibition
                                         Paris, Musée national d'art moderne,
                                         February-April 1962

Marcel Duchamp: The Ready-mades

By planning to write a ready-made at some set date in the future (day, date, minute).
The ready-made can then be sought (with all delays).
     The important thing then is the clock-aspect, the split second, like a lecture given
on some occasion or other, but at some particular time.  It is a sort of rendezvous.
     Write that particular date, hour, minute on the ready-made for iformation.
     Also the copy aspect of the ready-made.

Reciprocal ready-made
Use a Rembrandt for an ironing-board.

Moneybox (or tins)
Make a ready-made out of a tin containing something which cannot be recognised by
sound and solder up the tin.

Make a sick picture or a sick ready-made.

Buy some ice-tongs for a ready-made.

Restrict the number of ready-mades in a year (?).

                                   The Bride laid bare by her Bachelors, even:
                                   Ninety-three documents from the years 1911-1915,
                                   Editions Rose Sélavy, 18, rue de la Paix, Paris 1934

Tristan Tzara: Soirée Dada

      For the first time in the whole world
      Salle zur Waag: L Dada-Soirée
      (Music, dances, Theories, Manifestoes, poems, pictures, costumes, masks.)
      Before a close-packed crowd, Tzara demonstrates, we want we want we want to
piss in many colours, Hülsenbeck demonstrates, Ball demonstrates, Arp Erklärlung,
Janco meine Bilder, Heusser eigene Kompositionen, dogs howl and the dissection of
Panama on the piano on the piano and platform-shouts a poem-shouting in the hall,
fighting in the hall, first row approves, second row declares itself not qualified the rest
shout, who is the stronger we bring out the big drum, Hülsenbeck against 200,
Ho osenlatz accentuated by the drum and the bells on the left foot-shouts protests
broken glass death destruction fighting the police interruption.
      Start boxing: Cubist dance costumes by Janco, everyone a big drum on his head,
noises, negro music/trabatgea bonooooooo oo ooooo/5 literary experiments: Tzara in a
frock coat explains in front of the curtain, stone sober for the animals, the new
aesthetic: gymnastic poem, concert of vowels, bruitist poem, static poem chemical
arrangement of ideas, Biribum biribum saust der Ochs in Kreis herum (Hülsenbeck),
vowel poem aao, ieo, aiï, new interpretation the subjective madness of the arteries dance
of the heart on the fires and the acrobatics of the spectators.  More shouts, big drum,
piano and powerless cannon, tear up the cardboard costumes the audience carried away
in the fever interruption.  Newspapers dissatisfied simultaneous poem for 4 voices +
simultaneous 300 definitive dazed listeners.
                                                Chronique zurichoise 1915-1919, 1922.

Janco: Tristan Tzara

Ball was the manager of the cabaret,* but Tzara was his strategist and then his
propagandist.  A small man, poet by vocation, he knew how to move people; only he
was too much addicted to trimming up his words.
      Tzara and 1 had carried out various artistic experiments together and in a
manner of speaking we were childhood friends.  He was very highly-strung, very gifted,
but at the same time very ambitious.  His good manners and his smile helped him on the
way to realise these ambitions; he was ready to sacrifice anything for this end.  He was
careful not to be taken in and for this reason walked small and circumspect, swiftly,
surely.  Behind his glasses, his small sharp eyes saw everything.  Sometimes he wore a
monocle to throw people off the track.  To bring Dada into being, he showed an
organising spirit of police proportions.  He claimed to have gathered in his infallible
card index a complete register of all Dada activities with cuttings from newspapers all
over the world as well as photographs.  By placing himself firmly in the middle of what
was happening, he could raise that echoes he chose and then repeated them, drums
beating.  No poet ever knew so well how to get the most out of his voice.  He always
stood seventeen metres away from a wall and in order to be even more successful he
used to start his morning prayer with the words: " 1 do not even want to know if there
were men before me " (a quotation from Descartes)....

       The Director-Inquisitor General's card index grew before one's very eyes, stuffed
with notes on Dada demonstrations all over the world.  Glory and pride rang out in loud
cries and woe to anyone who dared to contradict him or who wanted to look at the
famous card index.  His punishment was simple: his name was expunged from the
                                         From Dada Creator in Willy Verkauf, Dada
                                         Arthur Niggli, editor, Teufen 1957

       * Of the Cabaret Voltaire.

Jacques Vaché: Letter to André Breton, 18 August 1917

... Besides,
       ART does not exist-So it is useless to talk about it-but! people go on being
artists-because it's like that and no way else-Well-so what?
       So we don't like ART and we don't like artists (down with Apollinaire) AND
TOGRATH IS RIGHT TO MURDER THE POET! Anyway since we have to disgorge a drop of
acid or old lyricism, let's do it quick and fast-for the railway engines run quickly.
       Modernity therefore constant and killed every night-We ignore Mallarmé, but
kindly -but he is dead-But we no longer know Apollinaire, or Cocteau-For-We'
suspect them of producing art too knowingly, of patching up romanticism with
telephone wire and of not knowing the dynamos.  THE stars unconnected again!-it's
tiresome-and then sometimes don't they talk seriously!  A man who believes is
       Well- I can see two ways of letting this go on-Build a personal sensation with a
fantastic collision of rare words-not often, though else draw angles, clean squares
of feeling-when needed, of course-We shall leave logic Honesty contradictions if
necessary-like everyone else.
                                                  Lettres de Guerre, Paris 1919
                                                  New edition 1949 K Publisher

Two Phonetic Poems

Hugo Ball: Karawane                            

jolifanto bambla ô falli bambla
grossiga m'pfa habla horem
égiga goramen
higo bloiko russula huju
hollaka hollala
anlogo bung
blago bung
blago bung
bosso fataka
ü üü ü
schampa wulla wussa ólobo
hej tatta gôrem
eschige zunbada
wulubu ssubudu uluw ssubudu
tumba ba-umf


Raoul Hausmann: Seelenautomobile

f m s b w t ö z ä u
p g g i v - . . ? m ü
BDQ!" qjyEE!


Tzara: Dada Manifesto (Fragment)

We have had enough of Cubist and Futurist academies: laboratories for ideas on form.
Does one produce art just to earn money and flatter the kind bourgeois?  Rhyme rings
with the assonance of money and inflexion slides along the curve of the belly.
All formal groupings of artists end in a bank, riding on the back of various comets.
The open door on possibilities for wallowing in cushions and eating well....
       Cubism arose from a simple way of looking at things: Cézanne painted a cup
twenty centimetres lower than his gaze, the Cubists see it from above - others
complicate its appearance by making a perpendicular section and arranging it sensibly
at the side. (1 am not forgetting the creators, nor the great matters they made definitive.)
       Futurism sees the same cup in movement, a succession of objects one alongside
the other, wickedly augmented by a few lines of force.  This does not afrect the question
of whether it is a good or bad picture destined to be a good investment for the
       The new painter creates a world, the elements of which are also its means of
expression, a sober, well defined work, no possible argument.  The new artist protests:
he does no more painting (symbolic and illusionist reproduction) but creates straight
into the medium of stone, wood, iron, tin, rocks, movable organisms that can be turned
in all directions by the clear wind of momentary sensation.
       All pictorial and plastic work is useless; let it turn into a monster which frightens
servile spirits and not a pleasant pretty thing to decorate animals' refectories in human
dress, illustrations for the sad fable of humanity.-A picture is the art of making two
geometrically parallel lines meet on a canvas for us to see, in the reality of a world
transposed according to new conditions and prospects.  This world is neither defined nor
specified in the work; it belongs, with all its many variations, to the spectator.  For its
creator, it has neither cause nor theory.  Order = disorder; me = non-me; qfflrma-
tion = negation; the supreme radiance of an absolute art.  Absolute in purity of ordered
cosmic chaos, eternal in its globule without time, without air, without light, without
                                     Manifesto read in Zurich (Salle Meise),
                                     2 March 1918, published in Dada 3 and in a collection,
                                     Sept Manifestes dada, Paris 1924

Dadaist Manifesto (Berlin)

The signatories of this manifesto have, under the battle cry
gathered together to put forward a new art from which they expect the realisation of
new ideas.  So what is DADAISM, then?

       The word DADA symbolises the most primitive relationship with the surrounding
reality; with Dadaism, a new reality comes into its own.
     Life is seen in a simultaneous confusion of noises, colours and spiritual rhythms
which in Dadaist art are immediately captured by the sensational shouts and fevers of
its bold everyday psyche and in all its brutal reality.  This is the dividing line between
Dadaism and all other artistic trends and especially Futurism which fools have very
recently interpreted as a new version of Impressionism.
       For the first time, Dadaism has refused to take an aesthetic attitude towards life.
It tears to pieces all those grand words like ethics, culture, interiorisation which are only
covers for weak muscles.

                                 THE BRUITIST POEM
describes a tramcar exactly as it is, the essence of a tramcar with the yawns of
Mr Smith and the shriek of brakes.

                            THE SIMULTANEOUS POEM
teaches the interrelationship of things, while Mr Smith reads his paper, the Balkan
express crosses the Nisch bridge and a pig squeals in the cellar of Mr Bones the butcher.

                                  THE STATIC POEM
turns words into individuals.  The letters of the word " wood " create the forest itself
with the leafiness of its trees, the uniforms of the foresters and the wild boar.  It could
also create the Bellevue Boarding House or Bella Vista.  Dadaism leads to fantastic new
possibilities in forms of expression in all arts.  It made Cubism into a dance on the stage,
it spread the Futurist bruitist music all over Europe (for it had no desire to maintain
this in its purely Italian context).  The word DADA shows the international nature of a
movement which is bound by no frontier, religion or profession.  Dada is the
international expression of our time, the great rebellion of artistic movements, the
artistic reflexion of all those many attacks, peace congresses, scuffles in the vegetable
markets, social get-togethers, etc., etc.
     Dada demands the use of

                          NEW MATERIALS IN PAINTING
Dada is a club which has been founded in Berlin which you can join without any
obligations.  Here, every man is president and everyone has a vote in artistic matters.
Dada is not some pretext to bolster up the pride of a few literary men (as our enemies
would have the world believe).  Dada is a state of mind which can be revealed in any
conversation so that one is forced to say: "This man is a Dadaist, this one isn't." For
these reasons, the Dada Club has members all over the world, in Honolulu as well as
New Orleans and Meseritz.  To be a Dadaist might sometimes mean being a
businessman or a politician rather than an artist, being an artist only by accident. To be
a Dadaist means being thrown around by events, being against sedimentation; it means
sitting for a short instant in an armchair, but it also means putting your life in danger
(M. Weng pulled his revolver out of his trouser pocket).... A fabric tears under the
hand, one says yes to a life that seeks to grow by negation.  Say yes, say no; the hurly-
burly of existence is a good training ground for the real Dadaist.  Here he is lying down,
hunting, riding a bicycle, half Pantagruel, half St Francis, laughing and laughing.  Down
with aesthetic-ethical tendencies!  Down with the anaemic abstraction of Expressionism!
Down with the literary hollow-heads and their theories for improving the world!
        Long live Dadaism in word and image!  Long live the Dada events of this world!
To be against this manifesto is to be a Dadaist!
                                           Tristan Tzara, Franz Jung, George
                                           Grosz,MarceIJanco,Richard Hülsenbeck,
Berlin, April 1918.                        Gerhard Preisz, Raoul Hausmann.

                                           (In Dada-Almanach, Berlin 1920, the following
                                           signatures were added to the ones above: 0. Lüthy,
                                           Frederic Glauser, Hugo Ball, Pierre-Albert Birot,
                                           Maria d'Arezzo, Gino Cantarelli, Prampolini,
                                           R. Van Rees, Mme Van Rees, Hans Arp,
                                           G. Täuber, Andrée Morosini, François Mombello-

The Radical Artists' Manifesto

A clear, straightforward gaze must predominate if decisions of great import are to be
taken.  Spiritually and materially, we demand our right: representatives of an essential part
of culture, we, the artists, want to take part in the ideological development of the State; we
want to exist in the State and take our full share of responsibilities.  We declare that the
artistic laws of our time are already formulated in their main outline.  The spirit of abstract
art represents an enormous extension in man's feeling of freedom.  Our faith is fraternal
art: art's new mission in society.  Art imposes clarity; should serve as a basis for the new
man.  He should belong to everyone without class distinction.  We want to channel the
conscious production-strength of each individual into the completion of the communal
undertaking.  We are fighting lack of system, destroyer of strength.  Our highest aspiration
is to realise a spiritual basis of understanding for all men.  This is our duty.  This work
ensures the greatest vitality for all people.  The initiative for this is ours.  We shall direct its
course and give expression to its wishes by joining into a harmonious whole its most
disparate elements.
                                            Arp, Baumann, Eggeling, Giacometti,
11 April 1919.                              Helbig, Henning, Janco, Morach, Richter.

Francis Picabia: Dada Manifesto

The Cubists want to cover Dada with snow; it may surprise you, but it is so, they want to
empty the snow out of their pipe on to Dada.
       Are you sure?
       Perfectly, the facts speak for themselves from great grotesque mouths.  They think
that Dada wants to stop them in their hateful trade: selling pictures at a high price.
       Art is dearer than sausages, dearer than women, dearer than anything.
       Art is as easy to see as God (see Saint-Sulpice).
       Art is a pharmaceutical product for idiots.
       Tables turn, thanks to the spirits; pictures and other works of art are like strong-
box-tables, the spirit is within them and gets more and more inspired as the prices rise in
the salerooms.
       Comedy, comedy, comedy, comedy, comedy, dear friends.
       Dealers do not like painting, they know about the hidden spirit....
       Buy reproductions of signed pictures.
       Don't be snobbish; having the same picture as your neighbour doesn't make you
any less intelligent.  No more fly-specks on the walls.
       There will be some, all the same, but not quite so many.
       Dada will certainly get more and more hated, for its wire-cutters allow it to cut
processions singing " Come Darling ", what a sacrilege!
       Cubism represents total famine in ideas.
       They cubed primitive paintings, cubed Negro sculptures, cubed violins, cubed
guitars, cubed picture magazines, cubed shit and girls' profiles and now they want to cube
       Dada, on the other hand, wants nothing, absolutely nothing, and what it does is to
make the public say " We understand nothing, nothing, nothing ".
       " The Dadaists are nothing, nothing, nothing and they will surely succeed in
nothing, nothing, nothing."
                                                Francis Picabia
391, No. 12, Paris, March 1920.                 who knows nothing, nothing, nothing.

Johannes Baader: Instruction for Contemplation *

The Grand Plasto-Dio-Dada Drama
      Greatness and Fall of Germany illustrated
        By the Teacher Hagendorf
      The Fantastic Tale of the Life of Super-Dada.

Monumental Dadaist Architecture in 5 floors, 3 gardens, a tunnel, 2 lifts and a fastening in
the shape of a cylinder.

        Description of the Floors:
The Ground Floor or the street level is predestination before birth and does not belong to
                        1 Floor: the preparation of Super-Dada
                       11 Floor: the metaphysical test
                      III Floor: the initiation
                      IV Floor: the world war
                       V Floor: the world revolution
        Super-Floor: the Cylinder is screwed into the sky and announces the resurrection of
Germany by the Teacher Hagendorf and his Desk.
                                                  Document quoted in Raoul Hausmann,
                                                  Courrier Dada, Le Terrain Vague, Paris 1958.

     * Description of a work exhibited at the first International Dada Fair in Berlin (1920).

List of "Presidents of the Dada Movement"

Dr Aisen, Louis Aragon, Alexandre Archipenko, W.-C. Arensberg, Maria d'Arezzo,
Céline Arnauld, Arp, Cansino d'Assens, Baader, Alice Bailly, Pierre-Albert Birot,
André Breton, Georges Buchet, Gabrielle Buffet, Marguerite Bufret, Gino Cantarelli,
Carefoot, Maja Chrusecz, Paul Citrodn, Arthur Cravan, Crotti, Dalmau, Paul Dermée,
Mabel Dodge, Marcel Duchamp, Suzanne Duchamp, Jacques Edwards, Paul Eluard,
Max Ernst, Germaine Everling, J. Evola, 0. Flake, Théodore Fraenkel, Augusto
Giacometti, George Grosz, Augusto Guallert, Hapgood, Raoul Hausmann, F.
Hardekopf, W. Heartfield, Hilsum, R. Hülsenbeck, Vincente Huidobro, F. Jung, J.-M.
Junoy, Mina Lloyd, Lloyd, Marin, Walter Mehring, Francesco Meriano, Miss Norton,
Edith Olivié, Walter Pack, Cl&ment Pansaers, Pharamousse, Francis Picabia, Katherine
N. Rhoades, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, H. Richter, Sardar, Christian Schad,
Schwitters, Arthur Segal, Dr V. Serner, Philippe Soupault, Alfred Stieglitz, lgor
Stravinsky, Sophie Täuber, Tristan Tzara, Guillermo de Torre, Alfred Vagts, Edgar
Varèse, Lasso de la Vega, Georges Verly, A. Wolkowits, Mary Wigman.

                                                   Dada-Almanach, Berlin 1920.

Richard Hülsenbeck: Kurt Schwitters

The principle of chance, which played such an important part in the Dada movement
and which slipped quietly into our existence with the discovery of the word Dada in a
dictionary, was revealed to Schwitters as part of his Merz experiment.  He had done this
to please us, for there was at that time a grave disagreement between Schwitters and the
Berlin group and this was based on the difference between our concepts of the meaning
and value of art.  For us, art-if indeed we acknowledge its right to exist at all-was one
of the forms of expression of the creative force, but the one inside which one could most
easily be trapped.  For Schwitters, though, art had the same relationship as the forester
to the forest.  The transformation of life, which we found so important and which led us
to take part in political activities, was acceptable by Schwitters only through the
medium of the artistic symbol.  His predilection for collage, for bits of " foreign matter "
(stones, cork, matches, rags, love letters, bits of prayer books, tax declarations) proved
that he acknowledged a profound movement towards the primitive, towards simple
forms.  He wanted to move away from the complicated, overloaded present with its
multiple perspectives.
       At the same time, he led an ordinary, rather Victorian middle-class life.  He had
not a trace of the boldness, spirit of adventure, driving power, pungency, personal
vigour or will to succeed that for me were a major part of the Dadaist philosophy.
For me, at that time a very noisy and intolerant individual, he seemed a great brain
in his Sunday best....
                                         From Dada and Existentialism in Willy Verkauf,
                                         Dada, Arthur Niggli, editor, Teufen 1957

André Breton: Drop Everything

For the last two months I have been living in the Place Blanche.  It is a very mild winter
and women make short and delightful appearances at the tables in front of the café
where we sit with our drug alcohol.  The nights exist only in the hyperborean lands of
legend. I can't remember ever having lived anywhere else; those who say they know me
must be mistaken.  Though now they say they thought that I was dead.  You are right to
call me to order.  After all, who's speaking?  Andr& Breton, a man of rather small
courage, who has up to now been more or less satisfied with one act of derision and that
probably because one day he just felt permanently unable to do whathe wanted.  And
it's true that I have a feeling of having done badly for myself on many occasions; it's
true that I find I am less than a monk, less than an adventurer.  But I still have a feeling
that I shall find myself again and that in these early days of 1922 in the midst of gay and
lovely Montmartre I am thinking what I can do with my life.
        These days, we think of everything in terms of its opposite and of the union of
both into one single category, this itself reconcilable with the first term and so on until
the mind reaches the absolute idea, the reconciliation of all oppositions and the unity of
all categories.  If Dada had been this, then it would not have been so bad, even though I
would still prefer the busy life of the first little tart I see to the sleep of Hegel on his
laurels.  Dada is far from such considerations.  The proof of this lies in the fact that
today, when it takes great delight in being taken for a vicious circle: " Some day or
other, we shall know that before Dada, after Dada, without Dada, towards Dada, in
spite of Dada, against Dada, it is always Dada ", without noticing that it deprives itself
thereby of all virtue and meaningfulness, it is astonished to find that its only supporters
are poor fools who live in a world of the past, waxing warm and fierce at the memory of
misdeeds long ago.  The danger moved elsewhere a long time ago.  And what does it
matter if M. Tzara has to share his glory with Marinetti and Baju!  They say I change
friends the way some people change their boots.  But I can't go on wearing the same pair
for ever and when they don't fit me any more, I give them to my servants.
        I like and admire Francis Picabia and it would not upset me in the least if some
of his comments about me were repeated.  They have done all they could to mislead him
about the way I feel, seeing clearly that if we were to understand each other, it would
compromise the established position of those already settled in.  Dadaism, like so many
other things, has for some people been just a way of settling in.  One thing I did not say
earlier was that there can be no absolute idea.  We have been subjected to a sort of
mental mimicry which has stopped us going deeply into anything and has made us look
with hostility at anything we held dear.  To give one's life for an idea, Dada or the one I
am evolving right now, would only cause great intellectual poverty.  Ideas are neither
good nor bad, they just are: and they can still rouse passion of one kind or another in
my mind.  You will forgive me if I maintain that, unlike ivy, I die if I cling on hard to
something.  Would you like me to worry in case these words seem to attack that cult of
friendship which, according to M. Binet-Valmer, is at the basis of the cult of
        I can only assure you that I don't give a damn about it and repeat:
        Drop everything.
        Drop Dada.
        Drop your wife, your mistress.
        Drop your hopes and fears.
        Sow your children in the corner of a wood.
        Drop the substance for the shadow.
        Drop your easy life and preparation for a comfortable future.
        Get out and go.

                                     Littérature, new series, No. 2, 1 April 1922;
                                     from Les Pas Perdus, Gallimard, Paris 1924