Part 2 Mocking Shocking Dada MAIR25

Dada Style Modern Art is Rubbish

Part 2 Mocking Shocking Dada MAIR25

Join us for Talk of Typewriter Races, Pigs in uniform, Machine heads and much more Dada Fun in this second part of our Dada journey!

German Dada

Dada spread out to many countries from its roots in Zurich. German Dada was more about directly mocking and attacking the establishment such as politicians and the military.


Club Dada

Richard Huelsenbeck (the writer) and performer at the Cabaret Voltaire in January 1917, decided to return to Berlin Germany—

With other figures, he organised other shows with a bit of a cabaret  feel at various venues called “Club Dada” events

Dada events were rowdy affairs and frequent brawls were reported to have erupted


There were some pretty interesting performances
Another figure involved with German Dada was George Grosz, he would sometimes host performances

George Grosz (a brilliant painter) would occasionally perform little dances in between reciting poetry. He mockingly simulated urinating up a painting by Lovis Corrinth. Who actually was quite a revolutionary and interesting painter.

“Pan-Germanic Poetry Contest,”

About 12 contestants were invited on stage. To begin the event Grosz fired a starting pistol. All the participants then read out their poems at the same time. Then at the end, he fired another gun and then he declared the contest was a draw. This perhaps suggested there can be no winners in a world where everyone was talking and nobody was listening.


In another performance, it was declared that “Beethoven, Bach are dead, but Music Marches on” The three women came on stage and each rested a canvas onto an easel which had one single note of music on it. This apparently caused a quite a stir with the audience. There were many fights at Dada events.


One very memorable performance Involved Richard Huelsenbeck and Raol Hausmann having a race with a typewriter and sewing machine One typed as fast as they could page after page and the other stitched non-stop onto a fabric of a funeral dress. Grosz the referee and master of ceremonies, declared the sewing machine the winner, in response Hausmann threw his typewriter on the floor.


International Dada Fair 1920

Picture of international art Fair
Dada International Art Fair










Dadaist also produced artworks, In 1920 the first (and only International dada art fair was held)Nearly 200 works were on display including paintings unframed posters hung on crowded walls. There were also 3d works to most famously one was by

Prussian Archangel 1920

The artist John Heartfield and Rudolf Schlichter hung from the ceiling a dummy dressed in a German army uniform, it had a papier-mache pigs snout for a face. Wrapped around the work was a poster that read”I come from Heaven, from Heaven on high” which are the lyrics from a German Christmas Carol.  Below it hung a sign which read “In order to understand this work of art completely, one should drill daily for twelve hours with a heavily packed knapsack in full marching order in the Tempelhof Field [a military training ground].” The German authorities charged the artists with defaming of the German Army, however, they were subsequently acquitted.


Cut With the Kitchen Knife Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919-20)


This work was created by the artist Hannah  Hoch who was a pioneer in the art of photo-montage,  It uses images cut from newspapers and magazines stuck down and re-arranged to create an image which exposes the chaos of the politics of the day. The image manages to mix the surreal with humour and ridicule.
Faces and people are stuck in strange juxtapositions,  some partially covered with bizarre objects and machinery.
It is a cocktail of hats, heads bodies and cogs and machinery (the machinery being that of government.)  There Cut out prints with the words Dada printed on them. The overall effect is one of confusion and intrigue. Einstein’s head is even in the picture.

I think the use of the word Kitchen Knife is alluding to the traditional role of women in society, and how woman are treated within the art and Dada movement.

If you want to find out more you can hear it discussed in this video below


The War Cripples (sometimes called) (Forty-Five Percent Fit for Work) 1920

This work was Painted by Otto Dix  A painter famous for his scenes of German life in the early 20th century

It is an image of 4 crippled First World War German veterans, some are amputees one has had his jaw replaced with a crude metal prosthetic. They are painted almost like comic book caricatures

This painting attacks the military and the political establishment for what it has done to its youth. It is also attacking the public for its almost freak show like interest in these injured and disfigured veterans. And yet they still have this strange sense of national pride.

It was seized by the Nazis displayed in their degenerate art show. It was captioned, “Slander against the German Heroes of the World War.”

Also in the Degenerate Art Exhibition, Munich, 1937. The Nazi’s used a Dada slogan, “Take Dada seriously,” and put up on the wall to poke fun at it.

Johannes Baader Prankster

Born in Germany  June 22, 1875 – January 15, 1955

Johannes Baader was an architect specialising in funerary monuments, he was known for many headline grabbing Dada stunts

for example, in July 1918 Baader issued a proclamation demanding he be awarded all 5 Noble prizes.


Christus ist Euch Wurst (CHRISTOS IST IKE VORST) 1918 November

Christ is sausage to you’, but meaning ‘you don’t give a damn about Christ!’. Was the name of a speech that he gave in a Berlin Cathedral, on November 1918, he was of course not invited to do this. It was just after the war had ended it was and was an attack on the congregation the church. About their failure to not live up to the gospel, and societies further failure to prevent war.

This resulted in him being arrested but he was quickly released after Police decided he was suffering from a mental health condition


After his release, he made a declaration that he was now the Oberdada, OOVA DADA the supreme Dada and king of the universe. “Superdada, President of the Earth and the Globe, Chairman of the Last Judgement, Real Secret Chairman of the Intertellurian Superdadaist League of Nations.” was his full title.

I feel it was Taking the piss out of high ranking military figures and titled gentry

In 1919 on April fools day. He and Hausmann told the authorities in a suburb Berlin of a Dada invasion.  The community raised a 2000 strong defence force to protect itself,

He also disrupted a conference in Weimar where officials were debating the constitution for the new Weimar Republic. He handed out flyers. declaring himself as the highest authority ever created, nominated himself to be president of the new German Weimar Republic. Also, the flyers showed plans to build a one and a half kilometre high pyramid, for his followers to worship.

He also wrote his obituary and the next day announced his resurrection.


Cologne Dadaists held an early Spring exhibition in 1920.  It was held in a local bar

To access the show you had to walk through the toilet, only to be confronted by a woman performing obscene poetry.

An example of the work on show was a Fishtank, filled with red water, in it was a floating wig and a mannequin’s hand submerged.

It was reported that people were upset by what they saw and damaged works. The artist Max Ernst encouraged this by attaching an axe to one of his sculptures for viewers to use.

The local authorities shut down the exhibition, in response to complaints. The complaints were about pornographic content, but none could be found, the only offending item was an Albrecht  Durer picture of Adam and Eve. The exhibition was triumphantly re-opened the next day with the following poster, which read.


Dada Triumphs!
Of the Exhibition Closed by the Police
Dada is for Peace and Order

Image of Adam and Eve by Albrecht Durer
Image of Adam and Eve by Albrecht Durer




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Author: Marcus

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