It’s 100 years since Dada appeared in Zurich at Cabaret Voltaire, making a massive impression with the cognosenti before disappearing and leaving an idea that would influence the art world forevermore. In this period pianist, composer and wit, Erik Satie roamed the streets of Paris with an eccentric air, like the Dadists contributing radical ideas to the rules of music as well as how to live. All these thinkers created a kind of anti-art that Pop Art was later to be inspired by.
A period in the early part of the 20th century threw up various anti-establishment movements of writers, artists, photographers and musicians – Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Hans Richter, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Beatrice Wood, Raoul Hausmann and many more. The Zurich Dadists, Emmy Hennings, Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Hans (Jean) Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, held events at the Cabaret Voltaire – the idea of art was never to be the same again.
Erik Satie was born in Normandy in 1866, he moved to Paris when he was four years old and died there in 1925 of cirrhosis of the liver. I have read that after his death when, his apartment was opened up, they found that his post was never opened, there were scores of umbrellas, two grand pianos sitting on top of each other and a wardrobe of identical velvet suits. He hadn’t let anybody in for 27 years.
His most famous compositions are Gymnopédies (1888), Gnossiennes (1889–97). He also wrote the ballet Parade (1916) with Jean Cocteau including a set design by Pablo Picasso with choreography by Léonide Massine and the orchestra conducted by Ernest Ansermet prompting writer and critic Guillaume Apollinaire to coin the phrase “Surrealism”.
Satie also had an odd hobby, he drew imaginary metal building on little cards that he stored in a filing cabinet. Sometimes he put anonymous small ads in local papers, making them available to rent.
You can read all about Dada and/or Saties’s fascinating life on the net via the links below or you can just listen to his mediative, simplistic, minimalist compositions and drift away.
Cabaret Voltaire formed in Sheffield in 1973 and released their first album Mix-Up in 1979. They were one of the first true avant-garde, experimental, electronic, industrial bands of the era. The original band consisted of: Stephen Mallinder – vocals, bass, keyboards (1973–1994), Richard H. Kirk – guitars, keyboards, clarinet, saxophone, tapes, sampling, drum machines, sequencer programming (1973–1994) and Chris Watson – keyboards, tapes (1973– October 1981). Since 2o14 Kirk has begun performing again under the name Cabaret Voltaire.