The revolutionary artistic and political movement, Dada, emerged amid the unprecedented carnage of the First World War. Although short-lived, the movement, a heady mix of anarchy, nihilism and a lethal dash of humour, produced a vast amount of creative work, in both art and literature. Rejecting all social and artistic convention, the Dada artists went to the extremes of provocative behaviour, creating 'anti-art' pieces that ridiculed and questioned the very nature of creative endeavour. To get to the heart of Dada, it is essential to encounter the artists' writings and manifestoes at first hand. To do so, one needs to read the famous - often infamous - Dada periodicals that were published in Europe and the USA, between 1916 and 1932, from Hugo Ball's "Cabaret Voltaire" and Francis Picabia's "391" to Duchamp's "The Blind Man" and Schwitters's "Merz". These reviews constituted the lifeblood of the movement, communicating the desires, hopes and aspirations of the participating artists.
"The Dada Reader" provides the first representative selection of these key Dada texts, as well as providing excerpts from lesser-known American and Eastern European journals, many of which have never previously been available in English. It is an essential purchase for anyone with an interest in one of the most dynamic and influential movements of the twentieth century.
Dawn Ades is one of the world's leading authorities on Dada and Surrealism. She is the Director of the Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies and Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Essex.