This helpful webpage introduced me to a popular art form in the time period that Robert Frank was growing up. Dada or Dadaism was most popular within the 1910s through the 1930s. So right about the time that Robert was born, dadaism was in its prime and was very influential around Switzerland (it all began in Zurich, Robert’s hometown) and then moved on to Berlin (of all places) and the rest of the world.
The background of dadaism is that it was the reaction to the first world war. Dada influenced art “rejects reason and logic” by “prizing nonsense, irrationality, and intuition”. Many of the artists (just like hippies during Vietnam) thought that the war was “barbaric” and their art reflected their thoughts of protest. Dadaism wasn’t just reflecting the protesting of the digusting and horrific wars that were surrounding them, they also protested the “prevailing standards of art”. Andre Breton stated that “Dada is a state of mind…Dada is artistic free thinking…Dada gives itself to nothing..” I think that this is an important influence on Frank. He wasn’t really following many of the “traditional” ways of photography, so could the Americans be a altered form of Dadaism? Maybe. The most famous dada art is Nude Descending a Staircase (1913) by Marcel Duchamp. Dadaism influenced the surrealism movement and that was the movement that lasted through a majority of Frank’s life.
Many of the Dadaist artists were forced to flee from their european homes as WW II got well underway. Hitler was not a fan of the “irrational travesty” and there were many dada artists who died inside of his concentration camps. The lucky ones fled to north America because America was still thought of as a melting pot and that everyone was welcome.
I think these articles really help to see what Frank was surrounded with art wise as he was growing up. I’m positive that both surrealism and dadaism are some sort of influence on his photography and I really want to figure out exactly how. The articles allowed me to learn more about the art movements that were going on in Robert’s time growing up. I’m going to read more in the second article as it is longer and I only skimmed through it looking for information.
“Dadaism – Styles & Movements – Art in the Picture.com.” Art in the Picture.com – An introduction to art history. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. http://www.artinthepicture.com/styles/Dadaism/
“Dadaism.” Student Personal World Wide Web Pages . University of Southern California, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. < http://www-scf.usc.edu/~sniles/dadaism.htm>