Art is dead…Long live Art!

The experience and horror of WWI was so great, it resonated so deeply in the eyes and mind of artists, that the creative arena ennobled itself by venting through social criticism.  The visual artists began to understand the age they lived in, the age they witnessed, through optical lenses imposing urgency and emptiness.  The previous higher properties of concern for artists, portraiture, history painting, technology, etc.,  could no longer be extracted from life’s experiences with any moral authority.  Richard Huelsenbeck wrote the following in the Dadaist Manifesto (1918):  “With Dadaism a new reality comes into its own.  Life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, colors and spiritual rhythms, which is taken unmodified into Dadaist art, with all its sensational screams and fevers of is reckless everyday psyche and with all its brutal reality.”  What are your thoughts on Dada and on Huelsenbeck’s manifesto comment?

Dr. Richard_Huelsenbeck_Berl_n_1917_

Dr. Richard Huelsenbeck, Berlin, 1917

Huelsenbeck dada_almanach

Dr. Richard Huelsenbeck, Dada Almanac



26 thoughts on “Art is dead…Long live Art!

  1. I believe that Dadaism is really intriguing in a way. They live in the present moment and want to draw and paint things that are going on right now. I don’t blame the artists who were traumatized about the war and the depression at that time, so using art as an outlet to get most of their fear or anger out is definitely a healthy way to take out the stress most definitely.
    As for the comment that Richard Huelsenbeck about Dadaism, just the quote itself was interesting as is. When he says that Dadaism is shown from a “new reality comes into its own” can be a bit of an imitation or a copy from what I know of Dadaism. But they do it out of proving a point and breaking the rules. “Life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, colors and spiritual rhythms” is the part of the quoted that intrigued me the most. Which, to me, definitely true about how life is filled with so many things that it is literally a jumbo pot of interests, religion, culture, etc. But when he says , “which is taken unmodified into Dadaist art, with all its sensational screams and fevers of is reckless everyday psyche and with all its brutal reality” seems a bit depressing or morbid in a way. For my understanding, Dadaism was anti-war and wanted to rebel against it through their art. But in such a way, it creates their message and it sends it to many people even the government. So this sort of “morbid and depressing” message is to communicate with the public how everyone truly feels about the war and through art itself.

  2. I agree with dyphoon that it is interesting that people wanted to make art out of what was going on at that time (World War I)–using that to get fears/anger out. I find myself doing that with my art sometimes (not about anything big like WWI obviously, but just the things that affect my life).

    I agree with the comment bu Huelsenbeck because life isn’t just visual like one would think way back when historical paintings were the norm. I like the exploitation of incongruous effects in the work, knowing that everything isn’t all fine and dandy like paintings from way in the past (generally speaking).

  3. I believe his statements remind me of the Peace Movement in the US; the burning of the flag, the burning of bras, the buring of draft cards, and the hanging of the president in effigy. All these things were shocking, but art with meaning started to emerge in the US and Europe. Some of the “crazy” posters that would go up, might be thought of as Dada; usually violent and pointed at the government/establishment. I would say that the Dadaist were the first protesters for peace, and Huelsenbeck the Alan Ginsberg of that era. The “angry” speeches, paintings, photos, drawings, posters, poems, etc. were a sign of frustration in the 1960’s as it was in the early 1900’s.

  4. One of the things that came as a surprise to me was that Dada was a somewhat of a response to Italian Futurism. While the Futurists saw the WWI as a necessary cleansing of the world, the Dada artists abhorred the war and the devastation that lay in its path. Many Dada works always appear to seem rather nonsensical at first sight. Whether it be one of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades or a collage piece by Hannah Höch, many people often disregarded Dada art as just random nonsense. As Dr. Huelsenbeck stated, “life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, colors and spiritual rhythms.” Dada artists merely manifested their thoughts on the brutality of the war or society at that time in their work as just that. Personally, I kind of like that Dada work is rather nonsensical. While its nonsensical nature was often a turn off for people, I personally think that is what makes Dada great. There’s no one right or wrong way of looking at Dada art. Some can view it as a reaction to WWI and Italian Futurism, while others can see something completely different.

  5. I always thought the art from Dadaism was a bit unusual because of the various pictures used in some of the collages created by Dada artists, but at the same time I found the movement to be unique because of the work created during its time. Their work and movement was a reaction to the events of WWII, and I thought it was a positive thing to do since it was a more constructive form to express their dissatisfaction of the war.
    As for Huelsenbeck’s manifesto comment about Dadaism creating a new reality, I agree with his statement because I clearly see that Dadaism itself is unique and that the work created under that movement can show us a reality that completely differs from the one that we all live in.

  6. I have always enjoyed the spirit of Dada. I especially like the readymades of Duchamp and Man Ray. The Dada movement was counter-cultural; there was much to rage against during this period. At a time when much of the world didn’t make a whole lot of sense, when lives were turned upside-down by the brutality of war, this movement seems rather apropos. Many of the Dada artists deconstructed forms and experimented with language. Their work calls into question what is real and what is artificial. Many of the artists made forms which defy their function. These works cause one to question whether one’s perceptions are representative of reality. Many of the works associated with Dada appear to be post-structuralist in nature, a mode of thinking which I am partial to. I really appreciate the subversive, challenging and disruptive nature of Dada.

  7. At first glance, Dada art could be considered a little unusual if not outright ridiculous. Preposterous though it may seem, Dada art is powerful in that it shows the fear and outrage of those that lived through WWI. I will admit that when we began looking at Dada art in class, I thought it was utter nonsense. However, after I learned more about the movement, I came to appreciate the deeper meaning found beneath the absurdity. Richard Huelsenbeck truly hit the nail on the head when he stated that in Dada art, “Life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, colors and spiritual rhythms…” Dada art is full of life; it is loud, with vivid colors and hectic movement. It is chaotic, reflecting the tumultuous time after the Great War. In a word, Dada art is catharsis.

  8. When first learning of Dada and watching that video, I had to admit that it through me off a bit. I think watching the dada video confused me even more. Reading about dada that isn’t from the artists who contributed to the movement has helped me understand it more. I see how it does show a sense of rebellion against the war, especially with art pieces that were humorous or just a piece of found object. Richard Huelenbeck stated in his manifesto, “Life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, color, and spiritual rhythms.” After reading that the noises of “dadadadadadadadada” during the film made more sense and I now appreciate that touch even more. Huelenbeck also stated that it is reckless everyday psyche and with all it brutal reality. I believe that kind of art they were creating was suppose to representing the war. The war to them was reckless and a brutal reality.

  9. The Dadaist were a bit like a starving man being let loose in a grocery store. He wants everything at once and isn’t very selective. The Dadaists response to the desolation of war and the scarcity of everyday comforts like food and safe shelter caused a reaction in them that made them want to experience everything all at once for fear that it might be gone if they wait too long. Today, we call this sensory overload. I think that’s what they initial did. They did not know for sure which way to go so went in all directions simultaneously. After time, each found their own direction which lead into a variety of different outlets of expression.

  10. I actually think that Huelsenbeck’s comment describes Dadaism to the T. Dada is reckless and brutal just like the world was during WWI. It was a total social commentary on the war and almost satirical, making fun of all of those involved in the war and who supported the war (like the Italian Futurists). I have always loved the Dada movement for it’s sarcasm and social commentary. I believe that it was one of the most important artistic movements ever because it had so much to say. The idea of anti-art was genius, especially since they had their priorities straight when it came to the meanings and usages of art for social protest rather than monetary gain.

  11. I find Huelsenbeck’s thought to be an accurate description of the time, “Life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, colors, and spiritual rhythms.” What Dada did was to take that world Huelsenbeck describes and rearranged it in a way in which it could convey a message relating to lost society values. Dada artists did not construct another world for us to see, they only filtered it for us to demonstrate that “brutal reality” in which we live in. Hugo Ball also stated, “Dada was not a school of artists, but an alarm signal against declining values.”

  12. I think the quote expresses the moment that Dadaists found themselves in. The world was being destroyed through a brutal war and they sought to represent that reality in art. The destruction of the war permanently changed human perception and illuminated the critical flaws in looking to create a perfect society through technology. The new reality that Dada exposes expresses a declining faith in authority and in the narrative of progress.

  13. My thoughts about DADA are described in Huelsenbeck’s manifesto. I think that’s exactly what DADA art is, Huelsenbeck explains it really well. With DADA art there is this new reality that emerges within the artist. It can’t be explained because as Huelsenbeck states it is simultaneous and unmodified. I feel as if DADA art is very random and not made to last. I think DADAist make art just to make it they don’t care if it last because eventually DADA will die along with them.

  14. Dada is a fascinating movement of art that Huelsenbeck’s manifesto describes perfectly. The Dadaists shaken in their world decided that they were going to simultaneously go with the reality of their life but also fight it kicking and screaming. Dadaists were taking life’s muddle of everything and trying to organize it into coherent art to understand their reality. Dada art is a brutal representation of reality that to be so significant as a movement had to self-implode and “die” so to speak.

  15. Huelsenbeck’s manifesto definitely described the work that was being produced by so many Dada artists in that time. There was a definite intense reaction against the war and the art being created expressed the people’s anger and dissatisfaction. The quote ” Life appears as a simultaneous muddle of noises, colors and spiritual rhythms…” reflected in their work. Even today, Dada art shows a certain ambiguity and tension. People were forced to see the brutality and realism of the world through the war. Huelsenbeck’s manifesto criticized society and many people’s distaste of the world they live in.

  16. Dada seems to be the only logical movement of art that came from that specific time period. It was raw and unfiltered and turned everything people had known about anything, upside down. This is a direct relation to the world and how it was affected by the war. Life as people had known was torn asunder and there was no going back. So these artists found a way to visual represent that sentiment. With Dada, colors and noises for example suffice to describe a specific feeling, state of mind, or experience because we use more of our senses than just our eyes. They took everything they’d ever known about making art and visual communication and through tore it asunder and never looked back. Huelsenbeck’s manifesto expresses the rawness of reality and how they’re eyes have been opened to new things, albeit good or bad, and how Dada allows for that rawness and new awareness to be visualized but not necessarily understood.

  17. If there ever were an art movement that best encapsulates the 20th century, it would be Dada. Dada makes sense of the non-sensical: it is the court jester of a complex, technological culture proud of its “striped toothpaste and hydrogen bombs.” Another notable key phrase in Huelsenbeck’s manifesto is that Dada is “unmodified”, which translates to the not-so perfectly coiffed art product of previous ages; Dada is the expression of authentic experience in an unprecedented age.

  18. It is hard to imagine what life was like during and after WWI. Dada’s disillusionment resulted in throwing rational thinking and reasoning to the wind. Perhaps Dadaist art was a search for a new paradigm on which to base reality. They used as Huelsenbeck said a “simultaneous muddle of noises, colors and spiritual rhythms” and the “screams and fevers of it’s reckless everyday psyche and with all its brutal reality” may be expressing part of creation of a new reality, like birthing a baby. I don’t think Dadaist reaction to reality produced lasting change yet it may have served to light a fire under complacency and get people to thinking “What have we done/are we doing?”

  19. I feel that Dada was a form of artwork that wanted to draw viewer’s attention to their work so that they may be able to get their voices heard. I also feel that Huelsenbeck’s manifesto comment describes what Dada is. That Dada was used to create tension when the viewers saw them. It was something that shouted out to the viewer that it needed to be seen. It was not like a painting were a viewer could causally look at it then move along. It was something that was different, abstract, creating tension with its designs.

  20. I believe that Dadaist art is a way to express what is going on in real life and show the emotion that the artist is feeling. Dadaist art gave the artist the freedom to respond to what the society was becoming to instead of taking physical actions towards the reality of society. I agree with what Huelsenbeck said about Dadaism, that the horror of what is happening in reality is seen through what is expressed from the Dadaist art.

  21. I’ve always been taken with Dadaist art– three parts whimsy, to one part sociopolitical rage. I find myself drawn in agreement to Huelsenbeck’s statement: as artists, we operate under the assumption of free-reign, exerting ourselves on any facet of the social terrain, to render whatever we might feel is apropos and self-fulfilling, but I can’t help but be flooded with horror at the idea of being told what to create by my own hands; the idea that what I’d make is a true-to-life reflection of all that is wrong with the world around me. Further, done in a manner which is as stern-faced as Dadaism… the iron-faced clown, the tickle followed by a heated smack to the face. The delivery of such heavy subject matter, with a seemingly-friendly and whimsical presentation. Dadaism is both characterized, and faceted by tension.

  22. Huelsenbeck’s manifesto described the Dada artists’ works of the time. The art was completely against the war like most art is, but the Dada’s were capturing the first expressions of this topic of anger and dissatisfaction. Dada art is the hard truth of reality and ultimately become distasteful towards the world.

  23. I can certainly understand the statements made here. There was a play that I saw in London that was called “Ring” and it took place in complete darkness. We weren’t watching the play, we were hearing it. We put on headphones and listened to a series of people argue with one another. The play was meant to take place inside the mind of the man who had given us the lead in to our play. It was an extraordinary experience and terribly frightening to see something and nothing all at the same time. The Dadaists have a very similar effect from what I can see. A bombardment of one sense or another, or perhaps two, to present something in a way it had not been presented in before.

  24. I am actually a fan of Dada. I think that it relates really well to internet culture. Like it was mentioned in Huelsenbeck’s manifesto, there are so many different inputs from so many places for someone to sort through. Each of these is broadcasted in various ways. There is little filter between what is posted and seen on the internet. This is like Dada because it can be almost nonsensical, and pretty silly, but there can be deep meaning behind the absurdness. This movement gave more freedom to the artist than what was ever witnessed before. I am a fan of satire as well so overall this movement really speaks to me. I also greatly enjoyed the then new technique of the photomontage.

  25. Art is very much a product of its time. it severs humanity as another language we as humans inherently know (though with varying levels of understanding). It is almost always the case that one can look upon and find some fragment or trace of the setting it was originally created. However that being said many of the thoughts feeling and emotion brought on by art have a way of transcending time and and staying relative as we relate to the work in the context of our own situation, this is why I believe some works can remain timeless and important decades after it was originally created.

  26. I have always thought only of Duchamp’s toilet as the only art from the Dadaists. It’s nice to know that more work exists from this era. What I like about these artists, is there ability to make art funny – but with a message.

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