Dada or “Dadaism” was an avant-guard European art<art movement of the early 20th century. It rejected the established aesthetics of art in favor of art that was provocative, shocking and anti-bourgeois. Dada artists sought to subvert traditional art forms and upend cultural values. They often created artworks that were intentionally nonsensical or offensive in order to make their point.

Dadaism had a major influence on the development of many other 20th-century art movements, including Surrealism, Pop Art and Fluxus. Dada artists include Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia and Kurt Schwitters.

Dadaism began in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916. The movement spread quickly to other European cities, such as Berlin, Cologne, Hannover and New York City. Dada reached its peak in the early 1920s before dissipating in the mid-1920s.

Dadaism was characterized by its use of found objects, readymades, collage, photomontage, montage and assemblage. It also often featured anti-art sentiments and deliberately defied traditional notions of beauty and good taste.

Dada artists sought to challenge the traditional values of art and culture. They believed that art should be shocking and offensive, and that it should provoke a reaction in the viewer.

Famous Dada works include:

  • Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, which he submitted to an art exhibition under the pseudonym “R. Mutt”
  • Duchamp’s “Fountain,” a readymade sculpture consisting of a urinal turned upside down
  • Hans Arp’s “Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance”
  • Max Ernst’s “The Elephant Celebes,” a collage made from various found objects
  • Francis Picabia’s “I See Again in Memory My Dear Udnie, Young American Girl,” a painting that features a nude woman with the head of a chicken