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Synthetic Cubism and Dadaism Comparison

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Arts
Wordcount: 2594 words Published: 4th May 2018

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Questions of art are always of a great interest and ambiguity of interpretation. Art is a thing, which demands not only the knowledge of the tendencies and styles, but the correct interpretation and perception of them in mind.

In the given paper we would touch upon concepts of two famous trends in modern art: cubism and dada. We would as well examine the common technique of these two styles – the technique of the collage in art. The collage of dada and the collage of cubism have different functions and our task today is to consider the difference and make certain conclusions, which will be based upon the analyses of the works of the representatives of these tendencies.

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One of the most interesting and extraordinary movements in art is Dada, also called Dadaism. From the very hearing of this word it may seem that this is somewhat childish, unimportant, and not deep. But in fact, Dadaism means a movement, reflecting beliefs of a group of displeased people. “A wave of irrational and concern for wholeness had swept Europe in reaction to ninetieth-century scientism and materialism and was intensified by the World War I” (Hugo Ball). Later, the group of European intellectuals invented their own vision of art and tried to bring it into masses. The dada movement first appeared in 1916 and its ideas continued developing up to 1923.

The basis for this artistic and literary movement was the horror of the war actions of those times. People had to run away from their homes and hide, to escape somewhere to those places, to find shelter and to become refugees somewhere (mostly in the towns of New York, Barcelona and Zurich), where they would feel themselves comfortable and hope for surviving and returning to their homeland. These people, especially the ones from Germany and France, were so angry with their government, they could not understand how it was possible to let the war happen and to take away so many lives of innocent people. They became so indignant and as a protest to all this, they created the small group of like-minded persons and developed their ideas through the artistic and literary activity. Some of the most famous founders of Dadaism were: Jean Arp, Richard Hulsenbeck, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Emmy Hennings. People – supporters of dada had one and the only rule: never follow any rules. They did not miss any public opportunity to show their protest to nationalism, materialism or any other traits, which may lead to the war. They did not think a lot about the name of their movement, they took the first word they saw in a German – French dictionary and were glad that it meant “baby talk” from French, because their literary and artistic activity reminded of the clumsy, weird things, little children usually do. “Dada” also means “yes-yes” from Russian and “there-there” from German. The multiple-meaning and such a nonsense word especially depicted diversity of Dada ideas.

People, who founded Dadaism, were not real masters of art and literature. They were laymen, believing that if there can be chaos in the system of government, there can be chaos in art too. So, dada representatives can be hardly called people of art, and their art, in fact, can be called non-art, created by non-artists. They were of strong belief, that if the society has no sense, the art must not also have any meaning. They were all laughing at bourgeois society and trying to get free of bourgeois way of life and habits.

The participants said: “Dads is irony”, “Dada is politics”, “Dada will kick you in the behind” (Sarah Ganz Blythe). Hugo Ball, one of the leaders of such a movement, even wrote the “Dada Manifesto”, where he carefully explains the meaning of the word together with the movement’s common features. He says, that the most effective and the quickest way to become famous is to say “dada” (which means to follow Dada tendencies). One needs nothing to perform his artistic work: neither the talent, nor the knowledge. So, later

Dadaists even began to add nonsense to famous art masterpieces, probably because of the lack of personal ideas. As an example, one of the dada “artists” Marcel Duchamp introduced his work: he painted a moustache on a copy of Mona Lisa, considering it to become perfect. Another “dada master” in a sphere of sculpture, performed his famous masterpiece “The Fountain”, which appeared to be a copy of an ugly urinal. And the alike works were introduced very often, one better than another.

Of course the public could not react calmly on such an “expression of talent” and they were really irritated. But Dada followers were not sad about this, on the contrary, they found it very encouraging and even inspiring. To cause outrage and disgust of people was one of the aims of Dada works.

Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of anti-art to be later embraced for anarchy-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism. And indeed, if to remember the main features of postmodernism, surrealism and even futurism, one may definitely find common traits with dada. At those times it was considered to be outrageous, uncommon and breaking the existing ways of expressing art, but now it does not cause rude and disgusting feelings, because we already got used to this kind of art, and it is now easier to call it “art” than it was before. The only word for dada at those times was “anti-art”, because the meaning of art was not so wide. It was not that easy to introduce something new and to expect it to be treated like s piece of art, comparing with today: painting with the spray on the walls is art, which has a modern name – graffiti.

Almost all what appears and comes to the people’s life spontaneously, disappears in the same way. Dada is not an exception. In 1923, after several years of scandalous existence, Dadaism exhausted itself. “Today, over ninety years later it is acknowledged as one of the twentieth-century’s most important avant-garde movements” (Anne Umland). Of course, as it was said earlier, some of its features couldв not but remain and revive later, but dada as an anti-art movement dissolved itself forever.

Another style of art we shall speak about is cubism. At first it appeared as an idea, and later developed into the separate style of art, characterized by three main features: geometricity, simultaneity and passage (the overlapping and interpenetration of planes). The ideas of cubism appeared in 1907 and the traits of it we may still see in the modern art. This is a style, which one of the numbers of styles managed to remain and develop through the flow of time and perform even now, it managed to save its individuality on the background of thousands of other different styles and genres.

The thing is that cubists` artists tried to depict things not as we see them, but as they really are. There is also a view, which says that cubism in some of its works depicts things in different dimensions.

The first works in the style of cubism are considered to be found in Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), where he keeps to the three main features of this wonderful style. But in fact, it is difficult to say that these very works were the initial ones of cubism style, because they were not shown to the public from the very beginning. Other scientists believe, that the first Cubist paintings were made by Georges Braque’s in his series of L’Estaque landscapes executed in 1908.

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Nevertheless, from this very time the movement of Cubism began to develop very rapidly and it was met by the publicity with great interest and great delight. As Cubism is not a quickly forgotten movement and it is still appreciated by the modern artists, it is important to say that Cubism has undergone a series of changes through its development. It has four main stages: Early Cubism or Cézannisme (1908-1910), Analytic Cubism (1910-12), Synthetic Cubism (1912-1914) and Late Cubism (1915-present).

Analytic Cubism is characterized by the careful development of Cubism as a style and formation of the exact features of it. The two main artists, representing this period are Picasso and Braque. They work hard by inventing different forms and shapes and the way of depicting them on the canvas. Synthetic cubism grew out of analytic cubism. Picasso together with Braque understood that using analytical shapes, symbols and forms their works became more generalized and simplified. They did not stop inventing other means of expressing real objects and came to a wonderful discovery. Now they used fragments of everyday things: newspapers, playing cards, sheets of paper and so on and so forth to depict the interaction of present life and art. Picasso was not afraid of experiments; he wanted to discover the completely new style of art, which would depict the new outlook of the people of those times. And this later helped them to make one and great artistic technique: collage. The definition of collage is quite simple and may seem abstract. Collage is pasting little pieces of different materials onto paper or canvas. These may be sheets of newspaper, cloths, photos, bank notes, wool, thin wood particles, ribbons or any other things. It is all done to feel the image better and for better perception of it. Picasso`s ideas to show the image in several dimensions almost came true: he managed to create pictures in two- and even three-dimensions. Picasso, as well as Braque a little later, tried to take objects as they were, without any deviations, and exactly this desire pushed them to the invention of the new artistic technique. With the flow of time these two great artists were totally sure, that some of the materials possess a completely unique expressiveness. Pablo Picasso wanted to stop the visual perception of art and to start the era of the new one – tactile sensing perception. This is the important philosophical tendency, aiming at the distortion of the habitual forms and creating of the new way of thinking and new reality, which is, in its turn, not an easy task.

If to speak about the collage of cubism, it is obvious that it influences the personal perception of the object, confirms the instability of the world, changeability of unchangeable things, by creating new images. The image of the collage tends to erase the borders of the space. Breaking up the plane of the picture into several smaller planes creates an incredible effect: the artist goes out of the borders of the picture; he increases the zone of its influence. The author here is a thinker, philosopher and the creator of the world of the picture. The author feels himself the master of the object, he feels that he have an opportunity to rule this object and to manipulate it. As an example, let us take the picture of Picasso “Still life with the red paper” (1918). After the first glance onto this picture, one may have the double feelings: both incomprehensibility and distinct vision of what happens on the canvas. The thing is that this picture is one of those, which a person can watch and watch for hours, opening something new for him. At first, we can clearly see the guitar, one playing card, the ornament, the table, the part of the chair, notes, paper, the half of the lemon and so on. The purpose of these things on the table is unclear but this is not the point. What is peculiar is a vivid feature of the collage – there are several borders on the picture, and from time to time they appear in different places. This is a kind of a mystic, because with the special technique Picasso managed to increase the perception of the picture from the visual level to the abstract, imaginary one. The viewer can not but dream, fancy about the picture, watching thoroughly onto every detail on the table and trying to put sense to all this. Here we can one more time be convinced that the author of this work is a master of own reality, he is a master of constructivism: he tries to create something new and he has not any borders and limitations. This is a great power – to create your own world with the objects of the given reality, because the author himself is God, creating his own world.

It may also seem that this picture is nothing more but the heap of useless things, but if we think a little, we will understand that this still life is a complete reflection of our world: unstable, diverse, intricate and unclear. And it needs some changes and innovations, which the author tries to fulfill with the help of his paintings. So, the collage in cubism is mostly the way of constructing the new model of our world and the way to reflect the personal view onto the existing reality.

Dadaists offer the new view on the collage technique. Their collage was the incarnation of unclearness, absurdity and chaos. Let us take for example the famous work of Max Ernst – The Hat Makes The Man. If we look at this collage, we will understand that there is nothing more but the mockery of people: there is not a single person on the canvas. Only remotely it may remind us of people in hats, if to see the picture from the distance. The thing is, Ernst cut out pictures of hats from different catalogues and glued them to the canvas, previously linked them with each other and created “people” by drawing cylinders of different colors, joined with each other as well. Apparently, the main thing in the collage is not the number of hats or cylinders, but the unknown emptiness, which is depicted by means of bright colors. Since bright colors were not previously considered to depict sad things, in this case they act perfectly: incompatible is compatible. As it was said before, dada artists were not artists themselves, they were protagonists, rebels, people who wanted to change the existing way of life and to show their protest to everyone in the world. Consequently, their art aimed at shocking people, trying to cause different, chaotic and terrible emotions. Moreover we can not but say about the personality of the author of such a collage. The author is individuality, and the way he influences the audience is also individual. The way each person from the audience percepts the picture in an individual way. But still, the effect is always almost the same: shock and zero understanding. And, it must be said that they managed to do it. Maybe, the love to the unknown is considered to be born exactly in this period of time. All the Dada works represent the complete nihilism; they aim at the total distortion of humans` brains, at the rejection of any hint of logic.

As a conclusion we can say, that collage in dada movement and in cubism perform different functions. Dada collage represents the ideas of chaos and the absence of logic, whereas in the movement of cubism collage is the means of creating new, individual reality on the basis of the subjective point of view of the author. Nevertheless, collage is a good form of expressing feelings and inner emotions, never mind that in different areas it means different things.


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