The movement spread in the confusion of a world that would bring about such tragedy as that of World War I and its trench warfare. According to Dadaist Hans Richtner, “the confusion was only a cover. The provocations, demonstrations and oppositions were only a means to provoke the bourgeois” rage and bring them to a rude awakening.” This universal rejection of conventions in art and thought sought to shock society into self-awareness, most often through art forms such as mechanomorphic works, ready-mades, and photomontage pieces. This condemnation of society and reality, amongst other common characteristics, was also found later in the twentieth century with the development of the movement that came to be known as punk rock.
Punk rock had much in common with the art movement. For example, they both formed as an opposition to the world around them, both at times of unstable economies. The members of both movements had seen the destruction that war and insurrection had brought about, and rejected a society that would accept such a reality. Just like the Dada ‘artist” produced “anti-art”, the punk ‘artist” produced “anti-music”. Johnny Rotten and his Sex Pistols were by no means talented musicians; they were loud, obnoxious, and out to stir up the masses- to make them think. This is what Dada did with its ready-made pieces, for example, make society question reality and what is art, the same as the Pistol”s “Anarchy in the U.K.” making society question what was going on with the British government.
Not only did punk rock have much in common with Dada, but punk also took Dada as an inspiration and brought back several ideas and actual visual representations of the past movement. For example, several punk artists used Dada pieces as covers of their albums; the Sex Pistol”s use of the safety pin through the queen”s face is directly taken from the work of Marcel Duchamp, a well-known Dadaist. The punks also used the Dada technique of shock through the use of unexpected language, such as profanity: Duchamp”s reworking of the Mona Lisa, was entitled, LHOOQ, which meant “She”s Got A Hot Ass”. This is comparable to the use of ‘Bollocks” (a British slang for balls) in the title of the Pistol”s LP, as well as the controversial profanity of the band members on a 1978 Bill Grundy television show.
Much is to be said in addressing the topic of comparing and looking at the influences that Dada had on the punk movement. These groups are so similar that one may look at punk rock as Dada”s re-emergence in the seventies. A more comprehensive analysis will follow, as I have found an abundance of sources on this topic and am eager to learn more.