The creation of collages was not long in following and became a mainstay of the Dadaist movement, particularly as it evolved into the concept of photomontage. Artists during this period struggled against the concept that art created spiritual values and frequently used the products of their creative spirit to protest against the First World War. Beginning in France in about 1916, the movement’s progress and development can be seen in context with the Great War, which started in 1914 and was waged for four years. While this artistic movement didn’t start until two years after the war began, about when the populace, artists among them, was beginning to feel the pressure of constant warlike states, it also persisted for a few years after it ended as the populace, again with artists among them, became reconciled to the new world order thus established. The development of this movement is most frequently associated with artists such as Raoul Hausmann, Kurt Schwitters and Marcel Duchamp, among other male artists, but less well known is the equally contributive Hannah Hoch. This investigation into the Dada Movement will, therefore, focus upon Hoch’s contributions to the movement and her artwork as representative of it.
The foundation of the Dada Movement is actually attributed to artists in Zurich, Switzerland and in New York, America. It is described in the Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature as a “nihilistic movement in the arts … that was based on the principles of deliberate irrationality, anarchy, and cynicism and the rejection of laws of beauty and social organization” (cited in Buell, 1998). The name of the movement was arrived at with the same lack of reverence as the movement itself, reportedly arrived at by chance and retained because of its childlike associations. One of its chief goals was to undermine the “rational and civilized standards” then in place in the art world by exploring the icons of the old world, placing them in new contexts so as to expose a lack of inherent meaning in the work.