Dada + Surrealism: c. 1913 – 1920

Dada was an anti-art movement that sought to subvert the function of the arts in an increasingly commercial and militaristic society. Dada develops in numerous cities including Zurich, Berlin, Paris, and New York in the context WWI. Influenced by ideas of psychoanalysis such as the unconscious, artists built on the irrational art of Dada to explore the dark world of desire freed from rules created to protect us from our inner ourselves.



Detail, Picabia, "Here, This Is Stieglitz Here"
Though Picabia borrows from the popular machine aesthetic, nothing about his apparatus is functional.

Francis Picabia, Ideal


Hugo Ball performing at the Cabaret Voltaire, 1916
The avant-garde reached new heights by looking to “low” culture; after all, the whole thing started with a urinal!

Introduction to Dada


Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931 (MoMA)
Surrealism may be familiar from dorm room posters, but what do you really know about this movement?

The Case for Surrealism




Meret Oppenheim. Object - detail
Identifying as agents of change, the Surrealists were interested in Freudian psychology and social revolution.

Surrealism, an introduction





Introduction to Dada
This is one of the most important objects of twentieth-century Euro-American visual culture. But… is it art?

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain











Man Ray, Gift, c. 1958 (replica of 1921 original), painted flatiron and tacks, 15.3 x 9 x 11.4 cm (The Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Man Ray takes a common household object and renders it strange, dysfunctional, and dangerous.

Man Ray, The Gift