Dada was an artistic expression which aimed to shock and reject society, as the group believed that it was the cultural rules such as the bourgeoisies which caused the war. The artists involved in the movement argue against labelling themselves as artists as they believed the labels in society had no meaning. The movement only had one rule; to not follow and known rules. Dada was born in an emotional European society around World War II in 1916 and marks the beginning of abstract art. Dadaists formed their protest in the neutralities of Switzerland however as the power of the Dada form increased the movement spread across Europe and North America.

They used Shock Art to further their protest by showing mild obscenities, visual puns and scatological humour into the public eye. Perhaps the most famous of piece of the Dada time is ‘Fountain’ by Marcel Duchamp in 1917, which displayed a typical urinal with a signature on it. The message of this piece of artwork has been debated time and again across history, however when analysed alongside his moustache on the Mona Lisa with obscenities written on the bottom as a metaphorical stab at the rules and ideals of society. The ‘Fountain’ has become one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century and marks a turning point in the meaning of art, beginning abstract art.

Dada was not confined the visual arts, spreading into music, literary works and poetry. However, it can be argued that Fashion was also affected by this social change. The war changed many attitudes because of the roles played in the war, including those of women. With women building bombs and holding jobs in the place of men, the way they dressed changed dramatically. Androgynous dressing took hold of fashion including the design of trousers for women, which was a shocking consequence. The war angered many and changed a lot, and this is what fed the Dadaists as they craved this change in attitudes.

By 1924 many of the Dadaists had developed into new Art pathways; however it wasn’t long before some of the European artists were killed in the Second World War in the camps of Adolf Hitler who want to eradicate the decadence of art.

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Written by Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones, studying Literature at Portsmouth University, with a passion for all things art and fashion, writer/reader/ editor/ artist/ dedicated shopper. Felicity looks after the Catwalk Yourself Art Dictionary.

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