In their efforts to express the negation of all current aesthetic and social values, the Dadaists frequently used artistic and literary methods that were deliberately incomprehensible. Their theatrical performances and manifestos were often designed to shock or bewilder, with the aim of startling the public into a reconsideration of accepted aesthetic values. To this end, the Dadaists used novel materials, including discarded objects found in the streets, and new methods, such as allowing chance to determine the elements of their works. The German painter and writer Kurt Schwitters was noted for his collages composed of waste paper and similar materials. French painter Marcel Duchamp exhibited as works of art ordinary commercial products—such as a store-bought bottle rack and a urinal—which he called ready-mades. Although the Dadaists employed revolutionary techniques, their revolt against standards was based on a profound belief, stemming from the romantic tradition, in the essential goodness of humanity when uncorrupted by society.
Dada as a movement declined in the 1920s, and
some of its practitioners became prominent in other modern-art movements,
notably surrealism. During the mid-1950s an interest in Dada was revived
in New York City among composers, writers, and artists, who produced many
works with Dadaist features.