Outlive how Dada artists challenged the mainstream conventions of art. In your response use the artwork examples and terms from the word bank below.

Word Bank;

Anti-art, random, destructive/ destruction, irreverent, the unconscious, chance, nonsense, ready-mades, anti-bourgeois (bourgeoisie (adjective: bourgeois) describes a range of groups across history. In the Western World, between the late eighteenth century to now, the bourgeoisie is a social class characterised by their ownership of captial and their related culture), nihilistic (the delusion that things (or everything, including the self) do not exist; a sense that everything is unreal), witty, shock tactics, rejection of traditional craftsmanship….

Marcel DuchampFountain, 1917. Photograph by Alfred Steiglitz

Marcel Duchamp’s alteration of the Mona Lisa in 1919.

Salvador Dali, Lobster Telephone, 1936



  1. Hannah said,

    Dada artists challenged the mainstream conventions through their controversial subject matter, inventive and different art making practices and their anti-art attitude. The Dada artists rejected the traditions of art and worked on creating pieces that would shock the viewer and make society question what art really was. Their attitude towards historical art and the conventions that surrounded it was one of opposition, they rejected and challenged the care that was taken towards art and the esteem and high regard people showed it. Dada artists created little original work, rather appropriating everyday objects and creating ‘ready-made’ works.
    An example of a Dada work is Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone, 1936. As the title suggests the work depicts a telephone with a lobster for a receiver. The piece makes the viewer wonder what art really is and whether or not this piece really is. The work has no real technique shown in creation, apart from the obvious wittiness and comic nature of the work.
    Finally Dada artists challenge mainstream conventions through subject matter, appropriations, art making processes and their anti-art attitude. Their aim is to make the viewer question “What is art?” and “Why is it placed on such a pedestal?”

  2. Clare said,

    The Dada movement was negative to art from the very beginning. It challenged the normal conventions of art at the time however so did every modernist movement, so why is the Dad movement different? Dada artists were anti-art. Their aim was to destroy art with perpetual surprises, ridicule, novel ideas and shocking subjects. Marcel Duchamp in particular demonstrated this and was the first to do so, ‘Fountain’ is a perfect example. He used this to question art and life and by placing a urinal in a prestige art gallery, highlights this concept. Many other artists also was a part of this movement, Francis Picabia and Max Ernst were two main artists. Like Duchamp, they took ready-made objects and took it out of its context by putting it in an art gallery and therefore supposedly heightened the value of it, just like contemporary art of the time. In this way Dada artists challenged the mainstream conventions of art.

  3. Andrew Gangemi said,

    The dada movement was a movement that challenged the main conventions of art at the time by using different techniques and practices used within the art making process and having a very Anti-Art approach to the works. Its main purpose was to ridicule art that was being presented at the time and make people think about, ‘what art really is?’. In addition to being anti-art, dada was also anti-bourgeois and anarchistic in nature.

    A clear example of this is in salvador Dali’s, Lobster Telephone, 1936. this work, just like the title suggests is a telephone with a lobster as the receiver. this work is represented in a comical and witty way by having the receiver as the lobster. This makes the audience of the work think about ‘what art really is?’ and ‘Is this still considered art?’. The work is very simple in terms of creativity and structure. It is just a phone and a lobster. but is presented in a shocking way with comical aspects to the work.

    Other artists of this movement are Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. Overall the dada movement is a Anti-Art movement that challenges mainstream conventions of art through shock, wittiness, comical aspects and by making the audience think about art, and what it really is.

  4. Lauren (D) said,

    – During WW1, progress was realized as a hollow ideal as society’s reliance on science and technology played a hand in the widespread destruction of modern warfare. In 1916 a group of artists in Zurich (neutral Switzerland) formed an art protest movement known as ‘Dada’. As an attitude Dada was ‘anti’, an anarchistic commentary on society and strongly oppositional to the war and aspects attributed to the ‘war-culture’. Their condemnation of the socio-cultural, economical and political included the prevailing structure of society and artistic conventions and norms. In other terms, Dadaists rejected all aspects that threatened to impose on and restrict their freedom, and as such they valued creativity, absurdity, and spontaneity, and a sense of the random and nonsensical- using art to express not only these ideals but their horror at the endlessness of WW1, their assault ranging from the humorous to the satirical.
    – The artwork ‘Lobster telephone’ clearly depicts the popular attitudes amongst adherents of Dadaism. As an anti-art movement, Dadaists transgressed accepted artistic conventions by rejecting traditional craftsmanship- thus raising philosophical questions as to the role of the artist, how an object gains that status of art and how it is made eligible for artistic appreciation. They employed alternative art forms, including ready- mades which consisted of the clever assemblage of random and found objects- in this case, the immediate juxtaposition of the lobster and telephone is a tactic used to induce shock and a humorous reaction from the audience. Lobster telephone insinuates art’s relation to life in composing a mundane, everyday object in an odd arrangement so that it lacks all aesthetic appeal and is purely prevocational, irreverently parodying the achievements of man through technology.
    – The Dadaists were highly nihilistic in their social commentary- referring to the delusion that all things including the self are unreal and lack existence. This often led to a dehumanization of the human subject as seen by the association of human beings to machines and the distortion of normalcy of everyday subject matter in art (as in lobster telephone). Consequently, the reduced sacredness of art resulted in an aim towards deliberate degradation and destruction of art and western culture. Out of this would grow surrealism, which Salvador Dali would also be a major contributor and possessed several similarities to Dadaism in being not a style but a way of life, and likewise in its subjective exploration and disconnection with the self and society was uncontrolled by cultural, social or ethical barriers.

  5. Madison J said,

    The Dada artists approached art with an ‘anti’ attitude; anti-war, anti-art, anti-conventionalism. The movement had an anarchistic nature, which was irreverent to the standards and traditions of art. Dada artists tended to appropriate and allude to other artworks or everyday, mundane objects, as opposed to designing something from scratch. Also, ready-mades were commonly used by the Dada artists, particularly Marcel Duchamp.
    The aim of the Dadaists was to obliterate the customs of art and redefine it as something different; they chose to create works to deliberately shock, alarm and astonish audiences.

    Salvador Dali’s ‘Lobster Telephone’ (1936) is a clear example of the Dada art movement, and as the title suggests, it is a sculpture of a telephone with a lobster for a receiver. It’s a controversial piece of art, as most other Dada works are. It is noticeably an appropriation of an everyday object, a telephone, making the viewer question the meaning of art, and what exactly art could be defined as.

  6. Courtney W said,

    The Dada movement was a movement of artworks that usually questioned something in our society, in Marcel Duchamp’s artworks; it was about what we consider to be art. Marcel Duchamp’s readymade sculpture ‘Fountain’ (1917) was a Dada artwork that caused huge controversy within the art world. The simplistic ready-made sculpture had hardly any detail or effort involved in the processes used to create it. ‘Fountain’ is an artwork that challenges the ideas of the art world because it breaks away from all the confirmative traditions of previous art movements. Previous to this artwork, artists usually painted or sculpted realistic depictions of the world around them, using a lot of time, effort and carefully added a lot of detail to their artworks. “Fountain’ caused controversy for its uniqueness and simplicity. Duchamp had used a basic method of the designing and processes to create this artwork by finding a ready-made, mass produced urinal and writing a false name on the bottom left side of it. This made art critiques raise the intended question of the artist of ‘what do we really consider to be art? A urinal in society is not a highly valued object. Duchamp has taken the unvalued object of a urinal and turned it into ‘art’. When it was first exhibited the at world had such a bad reaction to it that It is believed the original sculpture was destroyed. People did not consider ready-mades to be art because they did not conform to societies standards. Everyday, boring, unvalued, mundane objects were seen as pieces of useless junk not art. Even though not a great deal of effort or time went into this artwork, the ideas and meaning behind it are genius. By purposely raising the question of ‘what do we really consider to be art? Duchamp has completely changed the art world forever. He has done this by becoming the start of new movements that broke away from the conformed artworks of the 19th Century and started to experiment with techniques and meaning.

  7. Kim said,

    During the outbreak of World War I, Dada emerged as a political revolt against the bourgeois capitalistic interests, of which, they believed, started the war. Dadaism then evolved to envelope the idea of acute disagreement of normal ideology of the time – with it’s main aim to question, ridicule and revolt against tradition, order and logic – creating chaos and disorder in conventions, traditions and definitions. In such cases, they were anti-bourgeois, anti-government, and in particular anti-art. Rather aggressively, Dadaist aimed to destroy the thesis of traditional art. They mocked, criticized and upturned the accepted traditions of art in which they rejected traditional craftsmanship of the artist.
    Such an example is Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), which crudely comments of the possible nature of art – contextually, art was an expression of emotion or experience of the artist, an aesthetic representation of some sort of subject matter – however, Duchamp aimed to satirize this aspect as he shockingly claims that this urinal, a tasteless, vulgar item in itself, is art. This shock tactic stuns (and had stunned) the audience as this ‘work of art’ is neither aesthetic nor of emotional quality nor of work of the ‘artist’ – the Dadaists had singlehandedly created chaos upon the art world as now the stable definition of both art and of the artist have been questioned. The simplistic, kitsch nature of the urinal, it’s commonplace status and it’s role as a unclean depository of the abject proves the Dadaists nihilistic approach to art – that art although seemingly stable in it’s established ideals is just a product of flawed human idealizations, Idealizations which Dadaists challenge.
    The opposition that art faced in the 20th Century from the Dadaists has consequently born differing art forms on which stem on the thesis of the questionable definition of art, art forms which include Pop Art, the Avant–Garde and today’s post modernism.

  8. Lauren Sillato said,

    Dada was an anti movement that challenged mainstream conventions of art. Aiming to destroy art, Dada art assembled ready-made objects to create absurdly shocking perpetual surprises such as Marcel Duchamp’s work ‘Fountain’ (1917). These works which works which were of everyday use were irreverently mocked and used to satirically comment their views on art and make their audience question what art really was.
    Other works such as Duchamp’s alteration of the ‘Mona Lisa’ (1919) and Dali’s Lobster Telephone (1936) also aimed to contradict the traditions means of art, Dadaists were spontaneous and refused to be pinned down but used their works to question art and life itself.

  9. Joanna said,

    The Dada movement was the beginning of a new look at art and what it meant. Dada was the first movement the challenge the conventions of art of the time. Dada artist where know for their view as anti-art. Dada artists chose to work against the traditions of art of the time and worked on creating new works that would shock the art world and make fun of it. They use ready-made objects and make them art. This was not seen as art and was seen as going against art and seen as the Dada artists questioning what art really is.

    One Dada artist that was know for his ready-made objects within his works was Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp’s sculpture ‘Fountain’ was seen as an artwork that would challenge the art world. His work ‘Fountain’ was lacking in detail artist techniques of the time. Many of Duchamp’s work were made to shock and alarm different audiences.

    Many Dada works were created to generate controversy, shock and alarm within the art world and its audiences. Therefore causing the art world and audiences to question what the meaning was behind the artworks and new movement known as Dada.

  10. olivia moore said,

    The Dada movement rebelled against the societal norm of art and challenges the artistic conventions that were accepted by the bourgeouisie. The aim of the Dada artists was to strike controversy through shock association, ready-made art and contemporary appropriation (as seen in Duchamp’s interpretation of the Mona Lisa). At the time the art world was structured and strict, traditional techniques, realistic representations and artistic skill was accepted, the Dada art was not considered art as it was an anti-art movement.

    As a result of the Dada’s outrageous composition and fresh opinions on the subject of what art is, societies views were broadened, art was no longer a beacon used to represent craftmanship and skill it was a way to express opinions and views to the world.

  11. bec stead said,

    The dada movement was against the traditional conventions of art. they challeneged what was know typically as “art” and instead used ready made objects in order to create art pieces. They aimed to create contrivoursy through their art and this was done particularly by douchamp’s “urinal”. Dada artists didnt create their art in order to be liked or as something which was aesthetically beautiful but instead as something which would open up the world of art and expand the traditional boundries placed around it. It was no longer about who could paint the best or has the best technique but more about the statement in which the peice was making.

  12. tom house said,

    Dada art was a reaction towards realistic art that was very negative towards art. It challenged what art was at the time and aimed to destroy what was seen as art. This movement consisted of art works like Marcel Duchamp’s ‘fountain’, Salvador Dali’s ‘Lobster telephone” and more. These works were very shocking for the art world at the time e.g is the ‘Fountain’ work because this work is a sculpture work of a urinal being called art. It was very shocking and confronting towards the art of the time but that was one of Dada’s main aims, to shock the art world of the time.

  13. Chelsea McDonald said,

    Dada has challenged the mainstream artworks by their different art-making skills and anit-art attitude. This is evident in Marcel Duchamp’s alteration of the Mona Lisa created in 1919 where the famous Mona Lisa had been altered to have a moustache. This was an outrage to many and caused destruction, with people believing that this movement was non-sense. this movement was rejected by the public from the very beginning. Their aim was to create parodies and ridicule towards art, the “lobster telephone” by Salvador Dali is a great example that confused the viewers, seeing as though the subject of the painting is a telephone, with the lobster being used as the receiver.

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