Dada and Surrealism 20/09/16

Raoul Hausmann
The Art Critic 1919-20

Dada is not art, it’s anti-art. This movement emerged as a reaction to the consequences of the First World War, when the world was destroyed and there was too much brutality. Dadaism rejected traditional art standards and used nonsense to represent the senselessness of war and violence. There is no precise definition of the word  “Dada” , it is something accident and childish . The art, poetry and performance produced by dada artists is often satirical and nonsensical in nature. One of the most recognisable Dada artists was Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968).

Talking about Surrealism, it came after the Dada. A literary and art movement, dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention. One of the most important thing in this movement is the relationship between objects. The major artists of the movement were Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Joan Miró. Surrealism’s impact on popular culture can still be felt today, most visibly in advertising.

As I am interested in fashion I have conducted some research about designers that create clothes in dada style.

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood  (b.1941) aimed to destroy the boundaries of the fashion institution, ripping up the rule book on what encapsulates high fashion.colormain.jpg

There can also be links drawn between Duchamp’s readymades and Westwood’s designs, by taking a pre-existing design or even an idea and adding to it or putting it in a unfamiliar setting the garment takes on a new meaning.


More current designers include Maison Martin Margiela and Viktor & Rolf. While these may not be as ground breaking as dada or punk fashions they still encapsulate similar processes – distorting the ideals of high fashion with both humour and a sense of anarchy.


Above: Maison Margiela


Above: Voktor & Rolf

While Dadaism is a complex and lesser known art movement it’s influence is ingrained in contemporary fashion and culture – deconstructing and reconstructing the elements and principles of what fashion and art is



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