"ABCD" by Raoul Hausmann

Raoul Hausmann was one of the leading men of the Berlin Dada art period (MetMuseum). The movement began in Europe in 1916 and eventually spread to the United States (Esaak). It was a direct reaction toward the horrors of World War I. Dada artists were enraged that their countries allowed the war to happen. The Dada artists believed that the war was a direct result of capitalism and materialism, and they wanted to encourage others to realize the faults in conformity. The artists mocked capitalist society with their illogical and irrational pieces, questioning reality as a whole. This period inspired controversy, discovery, and conflict between dissatisfied people and their governments. Dadaism attracted attention because of the unpredictable, unusual work of its artists (Esaak). Through its strangeness, Dada art was specifically made to evoke an emotional response from its audience, as it protested the war and rejected the governmental practices.

In ABCD, Hausmann created a self-portrait (Esaak).When first looking at the piece, you immediately notice the its intensity. Hausmann’s mouth is open and clenched on the letters, “ABCD”, as if he is screaming and experiencing some sort of discomfort. Also found in the image is information about one of Hausmann’s upcoming poetry readings. This serves as a reference to the literary side of the Dada art movement. The movement was represented through visual and literary forms of art. Ticket stubs are cut up and scattered in various places. Hands, money, a fire extinguisher, and different words are hidden throughout the image. The value of these items could be interpreted in many different ways, but overall, Hausmann seems to be using these symbols to encourage the audience to challenge accepted beliefs and create individual opinions, and use art as means to do so.

 Specifically in Hausmann’s time, this kind of art became a gateway for people to express their disappointment in the establishment (Esaak). His portfolio of work made way for a whole new form of expressionism (Esaak). This rebelliousness encouraged people to think more about what was happening and speak up against the authority, rather than sit by as their governments made unfavorable decisions (Esaak). As opposed to the common idea of beauty, beauty in this sense was found in the thoughts of those strong enough to challenge the opinions of everyone else. Creativity, innovative thinking, and intelligence were valued and honored. Someone who was wise, and had the courage to stand up for what they believed in, was considered beautiful in the strength that they possessed. Hausmann, in essence, possessed a sense of beauty and attractiveness because of the strength of his artwork. His messages defied authority. This defiance characterizes artists like him as mysterious and intriguing. People are drawn to the mysteriousness of the art and the artists, and the intelligence that each possess.

"Collection Database | Works of Art | The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Metmuseum.org. Web. <"http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/photographs/abcd_raoul_hausmann/objectview.aspx?collID=19">.
Esaak, Shelley. "Dada - Art History Basics on the Dada Movement - 1916-1923." Art History Resources for Students, Enthusiasts, Artists and Educators - Artist Biographies - Art Timelines - Images and Picture Galleries. Web. <"http://arthistory.about.com/cs/arthistory10one/a/dada.htm">.


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