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Dada: Art and Anti-Art (World of Art) [Paperback]

Hans Richter , David Britt
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Aug 1978 World of Art
Hans Richter, the artist and filmmaker who helped start this radical movement, records Dada's history, from its beginnings in wartime Zurich, to its collapse in Paris in the 1920s, to its reappearance in the 1960s in movements such as Pop Art. Dada led on from Expressionism, Cubism, and Futurism, and in turn prepared the way for Surrealism. It was enlivened by extravagant and complex personalities--notably Tzara, Picabia, Arp, Schwitters, Duchamp, Ernst, and Man Ray--whose contributions are fully discussed and illustrated in this definitive work. 179 illus., 8 in color.

Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; Reprint edition (29 Aug 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500200394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500200391
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

'One of the best and most consistently interesting documents on this extraordinary movement that has been published.' The Sunday Times

'A first-rate history, objective and sober.' The Times

'Hans Richter is the ideal chronicler.' The Guardian

'Where and how Dada began is almost as difficult to determine as Homer's birthplace,' writes Hans Richter, the artist and film-maker closely associated with this radical movement from its earliest days. Here he records and traces Dada's history, from its inception in wartime Zurich, to its collapse in Paris in the 1920's when many of its members were to join the Surrealist movement, to the present day when its spirit re-emerged in the 1960's in movements such as Pop Art. This absorbing eye witness narrative is enlivened by extensive use of Dada documents, illustrations and texts by fellow Dadaists. The complex personalities, relationships and contributions of, among others, Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Picabia, Arp, Schwitters, Hausmann, Duchamp, Ernst and Man Ray, are vividly brought to life.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best introduction to Dada. 4 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This is, in my opinion, the best introduction to what was arguably the 20th Century's most fascinating artistic movement. Why is it the best introduction? For one, it is purely on the subject of Dadaism, which is so often coupled with the much more general subject of Surrealism. Secondly, Hans Richter was genuinely involved in the movement, and is therefore suitably enthusiastic, and well versed on its every detail. Add to this the very affordable price and the comprehensive selection of illustrations and facsimiles, and 'Dada: Art and Anti-Art' becomes an invaluable document for anyone vaguely interested in the movement. The book was written in the early 60's, and it remains the definitive introduction to the world of Dada.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Before I picked up the book,the word Dada meant very little to me - what it stood for and whom it atracted. written from an entirely biased view (ie. a dadaist himself), the book certainly submerges the reader into the intricacy of the movement. you learn and you learn quickly, statements are not justified by the author - what is written is simply the case.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected.... 11 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
But thats my problem isn't it? I guess I wanted to belive there really was something to this movement. Maybe I should have left well enough alone because the mystery is all of the fun. Now that I know it was all smoke and mirrors it sort of ruined it for me. After a while it really did start feeling like nothing more than a boring anarchic mess. Nonetheless it was important in the steps taken by future artists who are inspired by Dada art, myself included. Worth a read if you expect nothing in return.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! 18 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoy leafing through this book because it really gives you a feel of Dada art. I admit I was looking for another book on the topic and bought this by accident but i am totally happy with it! :)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memoir by a member of the Zurich Dada movement on Dada 10 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on
I personally found this text fascinating. Historical memoir by Hans Richter with great photos. Has personality and, of course, bias; but Richter shows restraint and moderation in his commentary. Is part of a wonderful series on art, with many plates of pictures, journal covers, poems, and photos. Probably not too terribly interesting if you are not intruiged by Dada, its "philosophy", its members, and its movement; but its definately readable if you need to do some research. Highly recommended.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Are There 28 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Hans Richter lived on the fringes of Zurich's Dada movement, and here offers a personal narrative of the Dada movement and its eventual successor, Surrealism. This was the first book I'd ever read on Dada and I found it quite sufficient -- all the personalities are introduced, and their motivations and how they came together are revealed. Richter is best in the earliest sections, while discussing the birth of the influential Cabaret Voltaire and how the First World War helped amplify Dada's influence in Europe. The book peters out a bit in later chapters, but is still a detailed look at the subject. If you are simply seeking an understanding of the movement, this book is a fast and entertaining read.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dada, where art thou? 27 Mar 2001
By "ateliermp" - Published on
In the interest of re-appropriating dada, read this book on the origins of the movement in Zurich at the Cabaret Voltaire. The Hanover period is less than compelling except for the brilliant Kurt Schwitters. His attempt to gatecrash the Club in Zurich led to marginal friendships with the progenitors - he was perceived as too bourgeois - and Schwitters went on to non-fame in exile in Britain, snubbed by the international art intelligentsia, which still denigrates his late work. Most interesting role? Hugo Ball, the impresario of the Cabaret Voltaire who championed the idea of the gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) then dropped out to live in the Ticino in Tolstoi-esque self-induced poverty. Greatest sub-narrative? The battle for the ownership of dada by the hangers-on.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dada Lives! 29 July 2008
By Randall L. Wilson - Published on
Dada wasn't really an art movement. It was an intellectual cry for help, decrying the degradation of art in a mass society. As such, it embodied an idea - the revolt against form - that lives on to this day even though the movement died quickly largely because its governing idea ran out of oxygen to fuel its flame.

Hans Richter, a dadaist himself, was an eyewitness to the movement's creation in Zurich at the Cabaret Voltaire and he writes with the authority of an insider, conveying the excitement and tension of the moment but does little more than catalog the Dada moments, artifacts and personalities. The book does raise the question, was dada merely a protest against the atrocity of modern warfare or an actual movement? Richter delineates the various flare-ups of Dada culture in Zurich, Berlin, Hanover, Paris and New York but fails to answer that question. And I have others. Were there ideas that animated these artists? Did they cluster around a particular aspect of dada revolt? If dada was just a protest, how come dada lives on so powerful as a cultural idea, retreaded and re-packaged but never expanded or exceeded? Only towards the end does Richter attempt sum up dada and that is only because he wants to elevate it above pop art and the other neo-dada movements that emerged in the sixties when his book was published and dada had new relevance.

Still, there are great prints throughout the book and Mr. Richter knew many of the personalities that with a word or sentence he can summon to life in way no outsider could.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it is not only possible to achieve something beautiful, but very easy 28 Jan 2008
By Glenn Cooper - Published on
This is one of the most important books of my life, and I know for a fact that I am far from alone in this. Richter taught me that it is not only possible to achieve something beautiful, but very easy; you simply have to actually want to. It is the first book I recommend, lend, or give to a friend; Bradley Chriss keeps extra copies on hand for those who need to read it; Warren Fry and David Beris Edwards have both been deeply inspired by it. What I was officially `taught' concerning Dada, and what I took for accurate for many years, was essentially that it was the cheeky use of the Readymade, and was basically synonymous with Marcel Duchamp. When I finally realised that there may have been something to it that I had missed, a particular image recurred to me, one that had been flipped past for not more than five seconds in a slideshow several years earlier, a man inside a large awkward cardboard costume, looking like a cross between the Tin Man, a stovepipe, and a lobster, with a very earnest, very direct, and at the same time very lost look on his face. It was most certainly not Marcel Duchamp. And I decided that there must be something else, and that I needed to track it down. Going to the bookstore, Chance--which that day vouchsafed to me its devious kind of (Anti-)trustworthiness--led me to Hans Richter. Richter was, in many ways, the most grounded of the core Dada group; among the least `absurd', the least polemic, and most importantly in his later role as scribe of the movement, the least histrionic and least given to post-mortem internecine strife. He was also, and perhaps for these very reasons, perhaps the nicest. The result is that Dada: Art and Anti-Art is not, like Ball's history, one of otherworldly mysticism; like Huelsenbeck's, one of political upheaval and ideological combat; like Tzara's version, one of impersonal destruction of all personal and social guarantors of subjective comfort; like Duchamp's, one of formal innovation or `artistic' concerns. Richter's history is the history of a group of friends, some of whom had never personally met, who galvanized that friendship into a force that profoundly transformed hundreds of lives, made all of those other histories thinkable and achievable, and in the process established the groundwork for a programme of joyous, deep-seated social revolt upon which we are still attempting build new ways of living; and, as Richter shows, they did this simply by actually caring. The most essential thing to be gleaned from Art and Anti-Art is not anything unique to Dada, it is the realisation that the Institution has somehow managed to dupe us all into thinking that we need it; Richter, in his generous, humble, unassuming way, taught me that a `movement' is not something that one assembles like an army of ready-made Heroes to launch on the grand battleground of Art History; it is the experience of a few dedicated friends who love nothing more than what they are doing, finding other dedicated friends who all make each other into something none could have imagined on their own, until one day they all look around, realise with astonishment what has come into existence through them, and get back to what they love to do together, as that intangible thing that has evoked itself between them continues to grow.
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