Surrealism is a cultural movement that started in 1917, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. Artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes, sometimes with photographic precision, creating strange creatures from everyday objects, and developing painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. Its aim was, according to Breton, to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality", or surreality.
Works of surrealism feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works themselves being an artifact. Leader André Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was, above all, a revolutionary movement.
Surrealism developed out of the Dada activities during World War I. The most important center of the movement was Paris, France. From the 1920s onward, the movement spread around the globe, impacting the visual arts, literature, film, and music of many countries and languages, as well as political thought and practice, philosophy, and social theory.
Dada (/ˈdɑːdɑː/) or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (circa 1916); New York Dada began circa 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris. Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical far-left.
Cover of the first edition of the publication Dada, Tristan Tzara; Zürich, 1917. There is no consensus on the origin of the movement's name; a common story is that the German artist Richard Huelsenbeck slid a paper knife (letter-opener) at random into a dictionary, where it landed on "dada", a colloquial French term for a hobby horse. Others note that it suggests the first words of a child, evoking a childishness and absurdity that appealed to the group. Still others speculate that the word might have been chosen to evoke a similar meaning (or no meaning at all) in any language, reflecting the movement's internationalism.
The roots of Dada lie in pre-war avant-garde. The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 to characterize works which challenge accepted definitions of art. Cubism and the development of collage and abstract art would inform the movement's detachment from the constraints of reality and convention. The work of French poets, Italian Futurists and the German Expressionists would influence Dada's rejection of the tight correlation between words and meaning. Works such as Ubu Roi (1896) by Alfred Jarry, and the ballet Parade (1916–17) by Erik Satie would also be characterized as proto-Dadaist works. The Dada movement's principles were first collected in Hugo Ball's Dada Manifesto in 1916.
The Dadaist movement included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a variety of media. Key figures in the movement included Hugo Ball, Marcel Duchamp, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Huelsenbeck, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Man Ray, Beatrice Wood, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Richter, Max Ernst, and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven among others. The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including Surrealism, nouveau réalisme, pop art and Fluxus.