Dada was a provocative and irreverent art movement, founded in Switzerland in the early 20th century, in which a seemingly chaotic, spontaneous, and pessimistic aesthetic influenced painting, sculpture, theater, literature, and film. The movement’s name is a willfully nonsensical word, intended to punctuate the meaninglessness artists saw in their contemporaneous worldview. Dada filmmakers such as Hans Richter, Man Ray, and Viking Eggeling were challenged by the developing technology of filmmaking in the 1920s. This confluence of technology and aesthetic experimentation suited the Dadaists’ passion for the machine-made object. The visual disruption created by the Dada filmmakers in the 1920s provided a legacy of aesthetic language for the cinematic experiments of future generations of avant-garde artists. The landmark films in this program—all produced between 1921 and 1928—are also on view within the context of other works in other mediums by the same artists in the Dada exhibition on the sixth floor of the Museum. All films are drawn from MoMA’s collection and are silent.
Organized by Anne Morra, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media.