A western Europe artistic and literary movement (1916-23) that sought the discovery of authentic reality through the abolition of traditional culture and aesthetic forms.
Pour introduire l'idée de folie passagère en mal de scandale et de publicité d'un isme nouveau si banal, avec le manque de sérieux inné à ces sortes de manifestations, les journalistes nommèrent Dadaïsme ce que l'intensité d'un art nouveau leur rendit impossible compréhension et puissance de s'élever à l'abstraction, la magie d'une parole (DADA), les ayant mis, (par sa simplicité de ne rien signifier) devant la porte d'un monde présent, vraiment trop forte éruption pour leur habitude de se tirer facilement d'affaire.
— Note au Manifeste DADA, 1918, in DADA, Réimpression..., p. 54.
Dada (French: «hobby-horse»), nihilistic movement in the arts that flourished primarily in Zürich, New York City, Berlin, Cologne, Paris, and Hannover, Ger. in the early 20th century. Several explanations have been given by various members of the movement as to how it received its name. According to the most widely accepted account, the name was adopted at Hugo Ball's Cabaret (Café) Voltaire, in Zürich, during one of the meetings held in 1916 by a group of young artists and war resisters that included Jean Arp, Richard Hülsenbeck, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Emmy Hennings; when a paper knife inserted into a French-German dictionary pointed to the word dada, this word was seized upon by the group as appropriate for their anti-aesthetic creations and protest activities, which were engendered by disgust for bourgeois values and despair over World War I. A precursor of what was to be called the Dada movement, and ultimately its leading member, was Marcel Duchamp, who in 1913 created his first ready-made (now lost), the «Bicycle Wheel,» consisting of a wheel mounted on the seat of a stool.