Dadaists (from 1916) – Poets and Artists at the Cabaret Voltaire

Zurich is the birthplace of the Dadaist movement that brought together numerous poets and artists.

Hugo Ball, the German friend and biographer of Hermann Hesse and his girlfriend Emmy Hennings, a German writer and revue performer, founded the Cabaret Voltaire on February 5, 1916: at Spiegelgasse 1 some 100 m from Lenin’s apartment in exile. Cabaret Voltaire was the birthplace of Dadaism – a movement that rejected conventional forms of art and reacted to the atrocities of the First World War with witticism.

The Romanian poet Tristan Tzara joined them and recited poems. Other people to join them were the German painter, sculptor and poet Hans Arp and his wife, the Swiss artist, painter and sculptor Sophie Taeuber-Arp as well as the German writer, lyric poet, storyteller, essayist, dramatist, doctor and psychoanalyst Richard Huelsenbeck. Finally, the Romanian Marcel Janco also joined the group.

The Cabaret Voltaire with its exhibitions, events, bar and small library is now open to the general public; this lively cultural establishment is where bridges are built between Dadaism and contemporary societal and cultural movements.

Multifaceted Zurich