Dada: champions of experimental collage who dubbed themselves monteurs (mechanics)


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Dada undoubtedly deserves a place of honor among the precursors to modern-day copy-paste creativity. This art movement was defined by the rejection of every “classic” understanding of what art is, preferring instead the exaltation of chance and the temporary, the refusal of all rational approaches (which could be blamed, from their point of view, for having led to the disaster that was World War I), and an innate inclination for the experimental use of images.

Unlike the Cubists, whose work mainly strived to overcome the mimetic representation of reality, the use of collage and photomontage (the latter being a technique that, though it began in the 19th century, was elevated to its own art form by Dadaists) was a true act of war by the Dadaists against the ruling bourgeois culture of the time.

The work of Dada artists, with their undeniably subversive and iconoclastic themes, was a way to place themselves in opposition and juxtaposition to society more than a purely aesthetic movement.

Life is art, art is life. The Dada ethos was transformed into reality through the use of techniques that were particularly bold for the time (1916 to 1922), methods aimed at engaging elements of reality, such as the body of the artist (performance art), everyday objects (readymades) and even newspaper clippings, flyers, magazines and photographs (collage and photomontage).

Some of the artists most involved in the use of creative practices such as collage and photomontage were the leading names to come out of Berlin Dada, such as Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, John Heartfield and George Grosz, artists who often self-identified as monteurs (mechanics).

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