In the early 1900’s the concept of controversy was taken to extremes with a movement known as ‘Dadaism’. However, instead of being ‘inappropriate’ due to aspects such as nudity, Dadaists would use humour and ridicule as a protest against WWI in a satirical manner. Their argument demonstrated that they felt that the war was ridiculous and irrational and therefore produced art that rebelled against all rules of art that had previously been made. The whole point of the Dada movement was to be pointless, to have no reason, which emulated their thoughts on the war. The question “what is art?” was deliberated over. Are everyday objects art if they are place in an artistic context? Marcel Duchamp explored this question when he exhibited his ‘ready-made’ artworks, one of which was, simply put, a urinal on a plinth, named ‘Fountain’. This is a prime example of the mockery that Dadaists set out to portray. It suggests that the War was so ridiculous that the art that they produce is normal in such a world.
“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”
The film below explores the question “what is art?”. It looks at how ridiculous some art pieces can be, similarly to the Dada artists. However, it does show that this movement of the early 1900’s has had a significant effect on the contemporary art of today:
Lectures by Donna Leisman