“Dada: An international movement in fine arts, drama, and literature that took shape in Zurich in 1916, with other major centers in New York (1915-1920), Germany (1918-1923), and Paris (1919-1922). Symbolizing their antirational stance, founding artists ‘chose’ the word ‘Dada’ (Fr., hobby horse) by sticking a penknife into a dictionary at random. The movement reflected the cynicism engendered by World War I in improvised, sarcastic expressions of intuition and irrationality. Dada artists—among them Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, Francis Picabia, Kurt Schwitters, and Max Ernst—appropriated papiers colles for their witty collages and ready-mades for their sculpture. A forerunner of Surrealism. See Anti-Art.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

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