Dada and Surrealism(1917–1950)

About the time

World War II was in the 1940s, where the Nazi Party in Germany tried to make a master race by "cleansing" its society by killing off people with mental disabilities, physical disabilities, and different religions, specifically Judaism.  World War II was the first time the hydrogen atom bomb was used.  The United States dropped two atom bombs in Japan, causing high amounts of destruction that had never been seen before with just one bomb.

There are many advances in the scientific community concerning health.  Vaccines are created and cures for formerly fatal diseases like Polio and the Measles are discovered.  People also began to study psychology and theorize about how the mind works.

The Art

Dada and Surrealism could be seen as a response to the modern advances in medicine and the political reality and struggle of World War II.  Artists tried to make people think about life differently by  making ridiculous art.  They painted dreams and began exploring the unconscious.



Painters used oil on canvas. Sculptors began using found objects to create art.  Architects used concrete, stone and mosaic pieces.



Duchamp- (doo-shahmp) French artist, sculptor

“Nude descending a staircase”

Dada art challenged what art is.  “The Fountain” which is really a man's urinal.





Dali (dah-lee)

Painted landscapes that would appear in a dream. He painted many melting clocks.  His personality was also dream-like.  He created his own language and would answer interview questions weirdly.

He painted realistic objects in weird ways.

 "Persistence of Memory"- it's only about the size of a piece of paper. completed in 1931.

This one is called "Premonition of War" and Dali painted it just before the Spanish Civil War began.





German artist similar to Dali but he painted unrealistic objects. Ex:  people with fur

during World War 1 he served in the German Army




Magritte (mah-greet)

Used visual tricks,Belgian artist

“The human condition”

“Son of Man”

“Raining Businessmen”

“This is not a pipe”



De Chirico

“Melancholy”  The shadow of the man and the cage in the front imply that the girl will be captured.






Unibrow. She fought for women’s rights, was very big on identitiy and purposefully painted herself ugly.  She was married to Diego Rivera.




Gaudi- architecture that has curved walls and dreamlike structure

Barcelona, Spain.

“La Sagrada Familia” church with bent walls featured in Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Made of stone.  Gaudi worked on it for the last 15 years of his life, but is still is not finished.  It is scheduled to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Guadi's death.


Mosaic garden


“gaudi house”





Review Test


Go to the Review Test Page and click on the Dada and Surrealism Test.  Fill in the answer sheet with the answers and turn it in to Ms. Allekotte for a grade.

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