Dada in Zurich

The Dada art movement began in Zurich. Today, you can still find traces of Dadaism throughout the city.

The Dada art movement began in 1916 in the heart of Zurich’s historic district. Dadaist friends of Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings met in Cabaret Voltaire and from here the ironic and vocal artistic group took over the world.

The German playwright and author Hugo Ball and his wife Emmy Hennings established Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
Emmy Hennings sang and wrote poems and books. Just a few months after the Dada was founded, she and Hugo Ball turned their backs on Zurich and moved to Ticino.

‘Karawane’

Hugo Ball

Among the Dadaists’ most famous works are their ‘sound poems’. In such poems, the sound of the words is more important than their meaning.

Sound and later simultaneous poetry were more or less the precursors to today’s slam poetry.

They paved the way for subsequent generations to explore collage, experimental music and performance.

Needless to say, they were well ahead of their time.

Show more
The Romanian Marcel Janco (center) came to Zurich to study architecture at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). He soon met Hugo Ball and helped to establish the Dada art movement.
Tristan Tzara, whose real name was Samuel Rosenstock, also came from Romania. He quickly became one of Dada’s most important advocates and promoters.

The group disbanded after just two months following disagreements about the spirit and purpose of Dada. Several Dadaists went to Germany, France and the US. Many later joined the surrealists and the constructivists.

More information

Explore the most prominent Dada locations in Zurich, drink coffee in the artists’ local cafés and take a walk along the Limmat River, where Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings once strolled. And in the archives at Kunsthaus Zürich, you can admire the largest Dada collection worldwide.

Explore more

Explore more