A diary that is fragmentary, subjective, often opaque, presenting
the image of a man talking to himself, justifying himself, bending
reality into the shape of his own capabilities - but the only key
to this public man. Hugo Ball, aesthete, poet, socialist, monk, and
one of the founders along with Arp, Janco, Tzara and Huelsenbeck
(for a review of his memoirs see below) of Dada in Zurich, 1916.
The cradle of Dadaism was Bali's own Cabaret Voltaire (Voltaire
represents the Enlightenment's anti-Christ, the arch-enemy of
romanticism) and yet his involvement with this seminal movement of
modern art was short-lived. His vivid descriptions of the wild
performances, including programs of the evenings, are exciting and
revelatory but comprise little of the diary. The author, who chose
the infamous name of the group with the help of Huelsenbeck, was
thinking not of a French hobbyhorse or a sign of affirmation but of
the Pauline Dionysius the Areopagite: "I was called upon twice by
Dionysius. D.A. - D.A." Despite his interest in a total art of
pictures, music, dance, poems, his greater commitment was
theological and moral. What an odd sort of founder for modern
iconoclasm this devout Catholic, sometime disciple of Nietzsche and
Bakunin, author of Zur Kritik der deutschen Intelligenz and of an
early appreciation of friend Hermann Hesse, seems to be. But the
contradictions and fertility of his imagination mirror the
Zeitgeist of German humanism from which Expressionist-related
theories of art developed. Editor Elderfield also includes a
foreword to the 1946 edition by cabaret-performer Emmy Hennings,
Ball's wife, a lecture on Kandinsky whom Ball regarded as his
aesthetic "priest," and the original "Dada Manifesto." An
invaluable source for art historians and cultural critics. (Kirkus
Hugo Ball--poet, philosopher, novelist, cabaret performer,
journalist, mystic--was a man extremely sensitive to the currents
of his time and carried in their wake. In February 1916 he founded
the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. The sound poems and performance art
by Ball and the other artists who gathered there were the
beginnings of Dada. Ball's extraordinary diaries, one of the most
significant products of the Dada movement, are here available in
English in paperback for the first time, along with the original
Dada manifesto and John Elderfield's critical introduction, revised
and updated for the paperback edition, and a supplementary
bibliography of Dada texts that have appeared since the 1974
hardcover edition of this book.
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