Humanities and Arts

Between Zurich and Romania: A Dada Exchange

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Why has the Jewish-Romanian identity of the Dadaists Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, and Arthur Segal been overlooked or critically unexamined in art historical discourse? Until recently, this significant and complicated identity warranted a brief mention in biographical and Dada studies, such as in those of Robert Motherwell (1951), George Hugnet (1971) Harry Seiwert (1996) and François Buot (2002), which gave prominence to the three Dadaists’ ties to Switzerland, France, Germany. Romania, their country of birth, was mentioned briefly to indicate the international character of the Dada movement in Zurich, for besides the Romanians, the Dada group comprised of artists from Germany, Russia, Sweden, and France, among them, the main contributors Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Richard Huelsenbeck, Hans Richter, Hans Arp, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Their country of origin was also used in the description of Zurich and its international, intellectual scene during the war. Their Jewish upbringing and religious and cultural affiliation are even less acknowledged.