The artistic movements born in the twentieth century were fundamental to the development of modern and contemporary art. One of these currents was Dadaism. This trend moved away from traditional art forms, painting, sculpting, literature, and even poetry. Dadaism set the foundations for the conceptual art we see today, like performance and installations. It broke the mold with novel and innovative artistic expressions that today we see as commonplace.
Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Tristan Tzara are the biggest names of the movement. At the time, women began to have a more active role in the social, political, and artistic circles. In the Dadaism movement, we recognize women with an admirable capacity to use colors, materials, and creative skills to give shape to unique oeuvres and soulful expressions through poetry, actings, and representations of the part they played in society.
The works of these Dadaist women reflect their strong will for change, and in this article you can meet some of these ladies.
Hannah Höch is considered to be one of the first feminists. With her work, she criticized the unrealistic beauty ideals media was creating and the way the feminine figure was portrayed. In her art, with collages and photomontages, she dismantled these ideals by creating abstract and amorphous images. Höch was also very vocal against different social situations of her time like the policies of the German government.
Suzanne was Marcel Duchamp's sister. As an artist, she had to overcome different obstacles, and her brother helped her obtain the recognition she deserved as a painter. Her work, paintings, collages, and poetry is pure Dadaism, especially in her most celebrated piece Multiplication brisée et rétabile.
Painting, dance, sculpture, and costume design are some of the disciplines Sophie Taeuber-Arp mastered. Sophie's shy and reserved persona did not stop her from gaining the freedom to express herself through art.
Vibrant colors, geometric forms, ability for textile and interior design were some of the elements that characterize her work.
Dadaists called her "Mommy Dada." She wasn't a painter nor an sculptor; she was a ceramist. For Beatrice Woods, this craft wasn't about objects that fill a space as decorations; for her, it was a means of expression. Combining drawings and ceramic, she transmits her sense of humor, creativity, and joy for life.
Founder and owner of the Cabaret Voltaire, the place where all Dadaist would go to mingle, Emmy Hennings was also the wife of poet Hugo Ball. In Cabaret Voltaire, Hennings would recite her poems and also sing, dance, and perform. Her bulk of work talks about controversial issues for her epoch like free love, anarchy, and the desire for a social revolution.
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
She was a human collage. Provocative poet and a brave artist, Von Freytag-Loringhoven would use her body as a tool for expression. She would transform any utensil into a piece of garment or walk naked through the streets of Greenwich Village. Once she did a performance with Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, in which she had her pubic hair shaved off and afterwards she strolled down the streets of New York City, naked, accompanied by her Dadaist friends.
She was a prominent writer that disturbed the elite and infuriated men with her words. Besides being a writer and a poet, Mina Loy would create oeuvres with anything she'd find in the New York dumpsters.
Tice was known as the "Queen of Greenwich Village." She was one of the first to cut her hair, shorten her skirt, and use fashion and illustration to exalt the qualities of the modern woman. She was very interested in the development of the individual, and her insouciant and carefree work is a direct call to freedom.
Toyen is an example of the anarchic life. She held no ties with her family by actually negating her family name, Marie Cerminova. She led an independent life, expressed through erotic imagery.
Her origins were aristocratic. She grew up surrounded by politics and lofty art discussions. In her poetry and pictorial work she transformed herself into an independent woman, able to express and fend for herself. She experimented by mixing up poetry and design.
She shied away from the stereotype of the lonely, misunderstood, and bitter artist. Florine Stettheimer depicted landscapes and halls bursting with color, and at the same time inflicted a subtle criticism to the behavior of the well-to-do class during the interwar period.
Stettheimer was a painter, and a sensitive poet, concerned about her surroundings, especially on conspicuous consumerism and the hidden truth about marriage.
Translation by Laura Calçada