Art Term

Neo-dada

The term neo-dada applied to the work of artists working in America in the 1950s and 1960s which was reminiscent of the art of the early twentieth century dada movement

Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Almanac’ 1962
Robert Rauschenberg
Almanac 1962
Tate
Artwork © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Jasper Johns, ‘Decoy’ 1971
Jasper Johns
Decoy 1971
Tate
© Jasper Johns

The term is applied to the work of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns because of their use of collage, assemblage and found materials and their apparently anti-aesthetic agenda. Dada was formed in negative reaction to the horrors and folly of the first world war and lead to art, poetry and performance often satirical and nonsensical in nature. In the 1950s Rauschenberg, Johns and others began to include popular imagery, and absurdist contrast in their work. There were also strong echoes of dada in environments and happenings of the 1950s and 1960s.

The term neo-dada has some justification due to the presence in New York of the great French dada artist Marcel Duchamp whose ideas were becoming increasingly influential.

Neo-dada’s counterpart in Europe was Nouveau Réalisme.