Thanks to Dada pioneers, this anti-art movement sprang up in both Zurich and New York in 1916 and spread to other European cities like Berlin and Cologne after World War I. Then, these artists almost universally congregated in Paris, where the movement declined and morphed into Surrealism. Each of the following pioneers made a special contribution to this anti-art art movement that inspired and puzzled so many:
Francis Picabia (1879-1953) was a European painter who participated in Dada while in New York. He published the Dada periodical "391" and was in contact with the Dada community in Europe through frequent visits there. He later denounced Dada and moved on to Surrealism.
Hugo Ball (1886-1927) was a writer and progenitor of the Dada movement. He wrote the original "Dada Manifesto," composed nonsensical Dada poems and claimed to have coined the term "Dada." He married fellow Dada artist Emmy Hennings.
Hans Arp / Jean Arp (1886-1966) was one of the original pioneers of the Dada movement, founding it in Zurich in 1916. He later helped launch it in Cologne, and then, like many other Dadaists, he moved to Paris. He worked in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture and poetry.
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1949) was formally rejected by the Berlin Dada movement, but he still pursued Dada ideas in his art, particularly in the art he called "Merz," Dada-like collages of found objects.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) is perhaps the most well-respected and revolutionary artist associated with Dada. Already pushing the boundaries of Cubism and Futurism with his renowned work "Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2" (1912), Duchamp pioneered some of the most innovative elements of Dada, including the use of "readymades," as seen in "Bicycle Wheel" and "Fountain."
Hans Richter (1888-1976) was a painter and filmmaker who participated in the Dada and Surrealist movements, but he retained a deep commitment to formal representation and constructivism.
Man Ray (1890-1976) was a painter and photographer who participated in both Dada and Surrealism. He spent most of his life in Paris, but much of his Dada work took place in New York, where he, like Duchamp, created "readymades" such as "Gift," an iron with spikes on its bottom.
Max Ernst (1891-1976) is better known for his Surrealist work, but his early art was associated with the Dada movement. He originally joined the movement in Cologne, but he later moved to Paris, where he helped André Breton found the Surrealist movement.
Richard Huelsenbeck (1892-1974) believed to his death that Dada was still alive. He was one of the movement's earliest proponents, having joined with the other creators in Zurich during World War I. As a writer and a drummer he involved himself with the movement in a variety of ways, writing a number of publications and also participating in performance art at the Cabaret Voltaire.
Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), a writer and poet, was an early leader of the Dada movement, writing manifestos and leading performance art at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. In Paris, he became the keeper of Dada's nihilistic leanings, and he was opposed to the shift to Surrealism that captivated many others once involved with Dada.