Jews in Dadaland

Sun Nov 6
The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Literary, Museums
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At the center of one of the most radical 20th Century art movements were the Jewish Romanians Marcel Janco and Tristan Tzara. Their Jewish heritage was of profound importance in shaping their contributions to Dada. Through two lectures and a panel discussion we will explore the Jewish roots of Dada.

Featured talks:

Mel Gordon - Kosher Dada

On the upper edge of the pictorial montage cover of Der Dada #1 (1919) is the Hebrew inscription “KShR,” or Kosher. It was likely a mocking reference by Raoul Hausmann to Dada’s perceived origins: an alien cabal, created by pacifist misfits and cosmopolitan Jews. Most of the Romanian, German, Russian, and American Jews, who comprised about one-quarter of the known Dadas, hid or ignored their ethnic backgrounds but some heightened it. (The Berlin poet Oskar Kanehl billed himself as “Mister Meshugga.”) During the sobering Thirties, cultural apparatchiks from the Romanian nationalist and Nazi parties condemned the entire Dada movement as a “Judeo-Bolshevik” enterprise. This talk reveals the backgrounds of the Jewish Dadas and their camouflaged works.

Marius Hentea - The Romanian Connection

Stateless but modernized, and culturally ahead of their times, Jewish Romanians played an essential role in Dada. Tzara and Janco in particular, but also Arthur Segal, Celine Arnauld, Benjamin Fondane, and Isidore Isou played essential roles in the emergence of the movement. An exploration of the Romanian-Jewish experience and the conditions that led to the creative fire that helped propel Dada.

This event is part of the World Dada Fair. For more information, please visit


  1. The Contemporary Jewish Museum
    736 Mission St, San Francisco, CA