International nihilistic movement among European artists and writers, 1916-22. It originated in Zürich with the French poet Tristan Tzara and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation. Carried to New York by Jean Arp, Max Ernst, and Marcel Duchamp, these principles were eventually modified to become the basis of surrealism. Duchamp's celebrated Mona Lisa adorned with mustache and goatee and George Grosz's's caricatures are characteristic Dadaist works. The literary manifestations of Dada were mostly nonsense poems-meaningless and random word combinations.
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