Artist / Artwork

Neo-Dadaism

Art isn’t just about what we look at, art is music, art is everywhere, art is an expression of life.

Neo-Dada was borne from the work of Swiss art movement Dada; an anti-art movement inspired by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. The Dada motto was “anything goes”, so it was no surprise to see it make a comeback in Neo Dada. Neo-Dadaism lasted from 1953 to 1965 and it can be characterized, like Dada, by its use of unconventional materials, as well as popular imagery. The driving motivation was its anti-establishment ethic. The term itself was coined and popularized by the historian and art critic Barbara Rose.

There are plenty of famous Neo-Dadaist of note: Jasper Johns, Larry Rivers, John Cage, Jim Dine, Yves Klein (also famous for starting the New Realism movement), Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono and Ray Johnson. 

Art influences art, so it’s no surprise that Neo-Dad influenced an entire generation of 20th century artists. It also had an influence on some well-known contemporary art movements like Minimalism, Pop Art, and Fluxus, not to mention the new creative art forms of conceptual art and installation. 

Neo-Dada was never an organized movement- it was just a label that was applied to many artists across the world, though most of them were based in New York City. The art establishment considered the work highly controversial, which makes sense as the movement was very anti-establishment. The goal wasn’t to endear themselves or their art to the art crowd, it was about creating.

Movements like Beat Art, Funk Art, Lettrism and Situationist International all fall under the umbrella of the Neo-Dada movement. Many of the artists that were involved in the Neo-Dada movement later moved on and started, or became part of, other movements. Art is fluid, it is ever changing and moving. There are a few avant-garde institutions associated with the Neo-Dada type aesthetic: New School for Social Research in New York, the California Institute of the Arts, and Black Mountain College in North Carolina.  

You can still find the works of Neo-Dada in some of the world’s biggest and best museums, most notably the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, Whitney Museum of American Art and in Paris, the Musee National d’Art Moderne.

Looking at the works of the Neo-Dada movement you can see that it is mocking the consumerism that was taking over the country at the time. There wasn’t a focus on what deep meaning was behind it, or if it was pretty, it was an expression of anger and frustration at what was happening in the world. The earlier Dada movement was formed off the back of the horrors of the world war. The revival of it through Neo-Dadaism was borne out of the same anger and frustration.

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