With its name chosen at random (being the French word for 'hobby horse'), this movement first manifested itself in Zurich (c. 1915-1916) with the establishment of the Cabaret Voltaire by German poet and musician HUGO BALL (1886-1927).
The movement, which soon spread to other international centres, was a reaction to the horror of war, and reflected disillusionment with society. It aimed through iconoclastic and revolutionary means to subvert conventional taste. Adopting provocative and irrational approaches (reminiscent of futurism), it attempted to undermine art itself. It ceased to be a significant artistic force after about 1922.
D Ades, Dada and Surrealism (1974)