Dada was an artistic and literary movement that began in Z├╝rich, Switzerland.
    It arose as a reaction to World War I and the nationalism that many thought had led to the war.
Influenced by other avant-garde movements, its output was wildly diverse, ranging from performance art to poetry, photography, sculpture, painting, and collage. Dada's aesthetic, marked by its mockery of materialistic and nationalistic attitudes, proved a powerful influence on artists in many cities, including Berlin, Hanover, Paris, New York, and Cologne, all of which generated their own groups. The movement dissipated with the establishment of Surrealism, but the ideas it gave rise to have become the cornerstones of various categories of modern and contemporary art.
The aim of Dada art and activities was both to help to stop the war and to vent frustration with the nationalist and bourgeois conventions that had led to it. Their anti-authoritarian stance made for a protean movement as they opposed any form of group leadership or guiding ideology. Dada artworks present intriguing overlaps and paradoxes in that they seek to demystify artwork in the populist sense but nevertheless remain cryptic enough to allow the viewer to interpret works in a variety of ways. Some Dadaists portrayed people and scenes representationally in order to analyze form and movement.

Man Ray played a major role in Dada and Surrealist movements in America as well as in Europe. His multiple attempts to promote avant-garde art movements in New York widened the horizons of the American art scene. His serious yet quirky imagery has influenced a broad audience through different iterations of his work in pop culture. Many of his important works were donated to museums around the world through a trust set up by his wife before her death in 1991. Most importantly, his process-oriented art making and versatility have influenced a number of modern and contemporary artists, from Andy Warhol to Joseph Kosuth, who like Ray strove to continually blur the boundaries between artistic disciplines.

Arp made his imprint on a staggering array of disciplines, from sculpture and architecture to literature and mid-century modern furniture. As a co-founder of the Dada movement, his organically-inspired sculptures in the first Surrealist exhibition in 1925, played an integral role in linking the two movements, and shaping the future of Surrealism. He also inspired a diverse range of visual artists within the Dada and Surrealist circle, first and foremost among them Sophie Taeuber-Arp, who became his most valued collaborator. Reverberations of his biomorphic sculpture are visible in designs for tables and chairs by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, two influential architects of the twentieth century.

Max Ernst achieved a rare feat in that he established a glowing reputation and critical following in three countries simultaneously (Germany, France, and the United States) while still living. Although Ernst is an artist who is better known by art historians and academics than by the general public today, his influence in shaping the direction of mid-century American art is easily recognizable. Through his association with Peggy Guggenheim, Ernst interacted with the Abstract Expressionists directly, and via his son, Jimmy Ernst, who became a well-known German/American Abstract Expressionist painter after the war.

Duchamp's radical critique of art institutions made him a cult figure for generations of artists who, like him, refused to go down the path of a conventional, commercial artistic career. Though his work was admired for its wide-ranging use of artistic materials and mediums, it is the theoretical thrust of Duchamp's eclectic but relatively limited output that accounts for his growing impact on successive waves of twentieth-century avant-garde movements and individual artists who openly acknowledged his influence.

I don't believe in art I believe in artists
-Marcel Duchamp-Marcel Duchamp-Marcel Duchamp-Marcel Duchamp-Marcel Duchamp