Download All 8 Issues of Dada, the Arts Journal That Publicized the Avant-Garde Movement a Century Ago (1917–21)


Sur­re­al­ism, Dis­cor­dian­ism, Frank Zap­pa, Sit­u­a­tion­ism, punk rock, the Res­i­dents, Devo… the anar­chists of coun­ter­cul­ture in all their var­i­ous guis­es may nev­er have come into being—or into the being they did—were it not for an anti-art move­ment that called itself Dada. And like many of those anar­chist coun­ter­cul­tur­al move­ments and artists, Dada came about not as a play­ful exper­i­ment in “dis­rupt­ing” the art world for fun and profit—to use the cur­rent jargon—but as a polit­i­cal­ly-charged response to ratio­nal­ized vio­lence and com­pla­cent banal­i­ty. In this case, as a response to Euro­pean culture’s descent into the mass-mur­der of World War One, and to the domes­ti­ca­tion of the avant-garde’s many pro­lif­er­at­ing isms.


The explic­it tenets of Dada, in their inten­tion­al­ly scram­bled way, were ecu­meni­cal, inter­na­tion­al, anti-elit­ist, and con­cerned with ques­tions of craft. “The hos­pi­tal­i­ty of the Swiss is some­thing to be pro­found­ly appre­ci­at­ed,” wrote poet Hugo Ball in his 1916 Dada man­i­festo, “And in ques­tions of aes­thet­ics the key is qual­i­ty.” Ball con­ceived Dada as a means of reach­ing back toward pri­mal ori­gins, “to show how artic­u­lat­ed lan­guage comes into being…. I shall be read­ing poems that are meant to dis­pense with con­ven­tion­al lan­guage, no less, and to have done with it.” Risk­ing a lapse into solip­sism, Ball sneered at “The word, the word, the word out­side your domain, your stuffi­ness, this laugh­able impo­tence, your stu­pen­dous smug­ness, out­side all the par­rotry of your self-evi­dent lim­it­ed­ness.” And yet, he con­clud­ed, “The word, gen­tle­men, is a pub­lic con­cern of the first impor­tance.”


Two years lat­er, artist Tris­tan Tzara issued a more bil­ious Dada man­i­festo with sim­i­lar intent: “a need for inde­pen­dence… a dis­trust toward uni­ty.” At once intense­ly polit­i­cal and anti-the­o­ret­i­cal, he wrote, “Those who are with us pre­serve their free­dom…. Here we are drop­ping our anchor in fer­tile ground.” How right he was, we can say 100 years lat­er. “How­ev­er short-lived,” writes Corin­na da Fon­se­ca-Woll­heim in a New York Times cel­e­bra­tion of Dada’s 100th anniver­sary, “Dada con­sti­tutes some­thing like the Big Bang of Mod­ernism.” Both Ball and Tzara posi­tioned Dada as a col­lec­tive, inter­na­tion­al move­ment. As such, it need­ed a pub­li­ca­tion to both cen­tral­ize and spread its anti-estab­lish­ment mes­sages: thus Dada, the arts jour­nal, first pub­lished in 1917 and print­ing 8 issues in Zurich and Paris until 1921.


Edit­ed by Tzara and includ­ing his man­i­festo in issue 3, the mag­a­zine “served to dis­tin­guish and define Dada in the many cities it infil­trat­ed,” writes the Art Insti­tute of Chica­go, “and allowed its major fig­ures to assert their pow­er and posi­tion.” Dada suc­ceed­ed a pre­vi­ous attempt by Ball at a jour­nal called Cabaret Voltaire—named for his Zurich theater—which sur­vived for one issue in 1917 before fold­ing, along with the first ver­sion of the cabaret. That year, Tzara, “an ambi­tious and skilled pro­mot­er… began a relent­less cam­paign to spread the ideas of Dada…. As Dada gained momen­tum, Tzara took on the role of a prophet by bom­bard­ing French and Ital­ian artists and writ­ers with let­ters about Dada’s activ­i­ties.” What­ev­er Dada was, it wasn’t shy about pro­mot­ing itself.

Janco Dada

The first issue (cov­er at the top), con­tained com­men­tary and poet­ry in French and Ital­ian, and art­work like that above by impor­tant Roman­ian Dada artist, archi­tect, and the­o­rist Mar­cel Jan­co. Issues 4 and 5 were pub­lished togeth­er as an anthol­o­gy, then World War I end­ed, and with trav­el again pos­si­ble, Tzara, sev­er­al Dada com­pa­tri­ots, and the jour­nal moved to Paris. The final issue, Num­ber 8, appeared in a trun­cat­ed form. You can down­load each issue as a PDF from Mono­skop or from Prince­ton University’s Blue Moun­tain Project, which also has an online view­er that allows you to pre­view each page before down­load­ing.


Ball and Tzara were not the only assertive dis­sem­i­na­tors of Dada’s art and aims. The Art Insti­tute of Chica­go notes that in Berlin a “high­ly aggres­sive and polit­i­cal­ly involved Dada group” pub­lished its own short-lived jour­nal, Der Dada, from 1919–1920. Down­load all three issues of that pub­li­ca­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dada Was Born 100 Years Ago: Cel­e­brate the Avant-Garde Move­ment Launched by Hugo Ball on July 14, 1916      

Hear the Exper­i­men­tal Music of the Dada Move­ment: Avant-Garde Sounds from a Cen­tu­ry Ago

Exten­sive Archive of Avant-Garde & Mod­ernist Mag­a­zines (1890–1939) Now Avail­able Online

Down­load 336 Issues of the Avant-Garde Mag­a­zine The Storm (1910–1932), Fea­tur­ing the Work of Kandin­sky, Klee, Moholy-Nagy & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (7)
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  • Mario fiorillo says:

    am try­ing to down­load this fre stuff and am get­ting nowhere: either I get a down­load for a archive thingy I do not need or a thingy about cal­en­dars I do nt need — any idea?? thanks

  • walter kenyon says:

    I’m doing a sec­ond mas­ters at the moment which encom­pass­es the theme that the DADA mind­set is like­ly the most rel­e­vant to address the hor­rors of con­tem­po­rary vio­lence.

  • Tanya says:

    Go to the para­graph ABOVE the Dada 4–5 cov­er and there are two links. I used the first one (Mono­skop) and it will take you to a page allow­ing you to down­load each one.

    Hope that helps!

  • Richard W Terrill says:

    Found­ed pre-1979 by Greg Ser­vice was “Send Out For Dada”. To be adver­tised on match­book cov­ers, one could call for Dada to be brought by ” our buisness(Dada sic)-like pro­fes­sion­al dri­vers” direct to your home. Some of my paint­ings I sold at The Amer­i­can Vision­ary Art Muse­um in Bal­ti­more were based on Greg’s ideas.

  • Richard W Terrill says:

    Greg Ser­afine ‚not ” SERVICE”. BUT NICE DADAISH MISTAKE.

  • nabil says:

    hi wal­ter — inter­est­ing hypoth­e­sis. how are you com­ing along with the research?

  • Ena Marrero says:

    It is won­der­ful to have this book, so spe­cial. Thank you 🌳🌈🌬

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