Aesthetics Wiki

Dadaism is an artistic movement in modern art that started around World War I. Its purpose was to ridicule the meaninglessness of the modern world. Its peak was 1916 to 1922, and it influenced surrealism, Pop Art, and punk rock.  


One could argue that Dadaism was a precursor to a lot of modern internet aesthetics, and the fact that this was created over 100 YEARS ago is a testament to just how influential this particular aesthetic was and was an influence on not only visual media, but also music, poetry, fashion, and all forms of aesthetics, and this was a movement that expanded beyond The Cabaret Voltaire (arguably its birthplace) in Zürich, Switzerland and found homes in Paris, New York City, Berlin, Cologne, Tbilisi, Mantua, Tokyo (which... might explain a LOT of what goes over there, as the Dada movement's influence was felt as far back as 1966 in the Ultraman series and there was a 100 year anniversary of Dada in Tokyo celebrated in 2016), Yugoslavia, The Netherlands (largely linked to the De Stijl art movement), and Russia (which, fun fact, in a nearby apartment to the Cabaret Voltaire lived Vladimir Lenin while he was planning his Communist Revolution).  

During World War 2, most Dada artists immigrated over to the United States, but what few didn't wound up getting sent to Nazi death camps by Adolf Hitler, who viewed what they did as "degenerate art" and, as a result, actively persecuted artists in the movement still in the area at the time.   


Dadaist visuals laid the foundation for a lot of modern internet visual cultures, utilizing pre-existing media and objects in new contextual ways (similar to how modern Internet memes, Vaporwave, and Punk art of the 70's worked) as a rejection of rampant capitalist culture of the time by showing them this is the sort of art that society deserves (in essence, it could be considered ye-olde-shitposting, but IRL). Indeed, they may not even be a modern internet culture had it not been for the trailblazers between the two World Wars that created Dadaism in The Cabaret Voltaire in the 1910s.

Important Figures

  • Jean Arp
  • Johannes Baader
  • Hugo Ball
  • Marcel Duchamp
  • Max Ernst
  • Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
  • George Grosz
  • Raoul Hausmann
  • John Heartfield
  • Emmy Hennings
  • Hannah Höch
  • Richard Huelsenbeck
  • Francis Picabia
  • Man Ray
  • Hans Richter
  • Kurt Schwitters
  • Sophie Taeuber-Arp
  • Tristan Tzara
  • Beatrice Wood  



In multiple ways, Dadaism has had an influence on art throughout the 20th century all the way up to the modern day, where a lot of the philosophies of Dadaism are put to use by many internet users today. There have been more than a few think pieces that have compared our modern internet memes to the Dadaist work of the post-World War 1 era. Many of the core tenants of what Dadaism were about can be found today in Vaporwave, while a lot of the visual cues have been taken to their logical conclusion with Surreal Memes. Punk's DIY mentality and love of making loud, crass noises to piss people off would fit right in with the Dada movement. And possibly the most famous example of Dada art; The Fountain by Marcel Duchamp (seen in the infobox) is the intent behind that really any different from the variety of Spongebob memes or the Suprised Pikachu meme you find online? So yes, if there is one classical art form one should study up on; Dada might be the perfect genre to study, as it's perhaps the most relevant to our culture today.


Neo-Dada was a movement with audio, visual and literary manifestations that had similarities in method or intent with earlier Dada artwork. It sought to close the gap between art and daily life, and was a combination of playfulness, iconoclasm, and appropriation.

In the United States the term was popularized by Barbara Rose in the 1960s and refers primarily, although not exclusively, to work created in that and the preceding decade.