In the midst of the First World War, having found refuge in the neutral Switzerland, the first vanguard soirée organized by Hugo Ball at Cabaret Voltaire was held on February 5, 1916, in the city of Zurich, introducing the Dada movement. Several groups of artists, poets, musicians, and agitators emerged under the same name in the cities of Zürich, New York, Berlin, Cologne, Hannover, and Paris.

Dadaism bore no recognizable style in the use of shapes, compositions, or technique, but all its members shared a will to negate art in its traditional forms, basing their anti-art on provocation, luck, and a sense of humor, with which they sought to undermine the foundations of the bourgeois class that had brought on the cruel war that ripped its way through all of Europe.

The Dada soirées mixed sound-poetry readings with musical pieces, theater sketches, political harangues, and exhibitions of artistic works, but the spreading of Dadaist ideals relied on publications—usually subversive magazines with very few issues and small print runs. The magazines explored new fonts and graphic tools, with gravures, woodcuts, and collages dispersed among their texts.

This DADA ZURICH exhibition aims to showcase the most significant printed testimonies of this foundational time through a collection of thirty documents that were printed in Zürich at the outset of the Dada movement, including magazines, posters, books, gravure portfolios, pamphlets, programs, and stationary, along with a few publications by Hans Arp that were edited in both Zürich and Hanover, all of which attest to Dada’s poetic and expository activity.

All of the works and documents exhibited here come from Archivo Lafuente (Spain) and are being exhibited in Mexico for the first time.

List of Works

1. Tristan Tzara. Dada 1. Recueil littéraire et artistique, 1917
2. Marcel Janco and Tristan Tzara. 8 gravures sur bois par M. Janco et un poème par T. Tzara, 1917
3. Exhibition view
4. Marcel Janco and Hans Arp. Galerie Dada (Abend neuer Kunst)
5. Marcel Janco. Galeríe Corray, 1917
6. Dada-Abend (Musik. Tanz. Theorie. Manifeste. Verse. Bilder. Kostüme, Masken), 1916
7. Exhibition view
8. Hugo Ball, Cabaret Voltaire: recueil littéraire et artistique, 1916
9. Hans Arp, Galerie Corray, 1917
10. Francis Picabia, 391, 1919
11. Exhibition view