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Artists Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara Photo

Tristan Tzara

Romanian Poet, Writer, and Filmmaker

Movements and Styles: Dada, Surrealism

Born: April 16, 1896 - Moinesti, Romania

Died: December 24, 1963 - Paris, France

Tristan Tzara Timeline

Quotes

"The beginnings of Dada, were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust."
Tristan Tzara
"To shit in many colors - to ornament the zoo of art with the flags of every consulate"
Tristan Tzara
"Art has not the celestial and universal value that people like to attribute to it. Life is far more interesting.... Dada introduces it into daily life. And vice versa."
Tristan Tzara
"There is a great work of destruction to be accomplished"
Tristan Tzara
"Musicians smash your blind instruments on the stage"
Tristan Tzara
"Freedom: Dada Dada Dada, a roaring of tense colors, and interlacing of opposites and of all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies: LIFE"
Tristan Tzara
"This is not the new art, this is not expressionist or futurist art: rather this is not art at all."
Bruno Goetz
"Every page should explode, either because of its deep seriousness, or because of its vortex, vertigo, newness, timelessness, crushing humor, enthusiasm of its principles, or the way it is printed."
Tristan Tzara
"A ruthless genius."
Huelsenbeck
"A marvelous scandal maker."
Philippe Soupault
"A Romanian who said his name was Tristan Tzara, who always wore a monocle and had a headache."
Ernest Hemingway

"Art has not the celestial and universal value that people like to attribute to it. Life is far more interesting... Dada introduces it into daily life. And vice versa."

Tristan Tzara Signature

Synopsis

Tzara is considered the founder of Dada, a nihilistic, anti-art movement formed in Zurich during World War I. Although also producing artwork, his primary contribution was publishing manifestos outlining the goals of Dada and circulating them to as wide an audience as he could solicit and arranging vulgar and shocking performances at a local Café featuring deconstructed language and outrageous acts purposefully intended to shock his audience and upset all preconceived expectation. Tzara worked hard to spread Dada, formulating the Dadaglobe project intended to catalogue Dada output across the world and introducing his own brand of chaotic spectacle to the Parisian avant-garde in the mid-1920s. By 1930 he began to break away from the destructive side of Dada and began to explore Surrealism, a movement propagated by his friend André Breton, with its combination of juxtaposition and chance. Throughout his career he strove to overcome what he felt were the evils of bourgeois society and to offer, in their place, an antidote based on a distinct lack of historical precedent.

Key Ideas

Tzara found and propagated Dada art in Zurich during World War I, determined to find an alternative to tradition, history, and the continuation of what he considered the pernicious bourgeoisie. From 1916 Tzara organized violent, disruptive, and unexpected performances at the Café Voltaire specifically meant to shock and upset his audience - all part of his effort to spread a kind of anti-art, one no longer based on any formerly understood societal standard. The artist continued his Dada activity in Paris in 1919, transforming literary gatherings and organizing performances intended, from the start, as a form of "hoax" or "trick" on his the public.
Tzara's interest in African art and poetry paralleled the interests of many contemporary European artists interested in so-called Primitive art as a way of breaking from the long-held Western tradition. His incorporation of African chants and dances into his performances added elements unfamiliar to most in his European audiences and encouraged an association common, even if problematic, among the Dadaists between Primitive arts and the subconscious.
Tzara used a particular style, which he called "cut-ups," for both his visual and literary oeuvre. In this method either a text (for a poem) or an image (for a drawing or print) was cut into pieces and then recomposed. The final work was a result of chance and juxtaposition. This technique was perfect when, influenced by Andre Breton, the artist began to explore Surrealism, allowing him to extend earlier ideas to new applications espousing an investigation of dreamlike states, ulterior realities, and the workings of the unconscious.

Biography

Tristan Tzara Photo

Early Period

Tristan Tzara, born Samuel Rosenstock, came from a Romanian family with Jewish roots. A highly original thinker by nature, his early years were marked by feelings of boredom with the small, agricultural town in which he lived. While attending school in Bucharest he became captivated by Symbolism, and co-founded the magazine Simbolul with Ion Vinea and Marcel Janco. In 1915 he went to Zurich, a hotbed of revolutionary ideas, to study philosophy. His freethinking, anti-bourgeois principles led to painful clashes with his family that eventually led his father to cut him off. As he later wrote, "I was dead for him."

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Tristan Tzara Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Tristan Tzara
Interactive chart with Tristan Tzara's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Guillaume ApollinaireGuillaume Apollinaire
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
André BretonAndré Breton
Marcel JancoMarcel Janco

Personal Contacts

Hans ArpHans Arp
Francis PicabiaFrancis Picabia
Hugo BallHugo Ball
Hans RichterHans Richter
Richard HuelsenbeckRichard Huelsenbeck

Movements

CubismCubism
FuturismFuturism
ExpressionismExpressionism
SymbolismSymbolism
African ArtAfrican Art

Influences on Artist
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara
Years Worked: 1910s - 1963
Influenced by Artist

Artists

André BretonAndré Breton
William BurroughsWilliam Burroughs
Robert MotherwellRobert Motherwell
David BowieDavid Bowie

Personal Contacts

Paul EluardPaul Eluard
Marcel JancoMarcel Janco
Julien LevyJulien Levy

Movements

DadaDada
Beat GenerationBeat Generation
SurrealismSurrealism
Neo-DadaNeo-Dada
Pop ArtPop Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Jen Farren

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Caroline Igra

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jen Farren
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Caroline Igra
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