- Richard Huelsenbeck was born 1892. In 1912 he went to Munich, where he pursued medicine for a year before beginning his study of German literature and art history. In Munich Huelsenbeck met Hugo Ball, who would become a decisive influence on his intellectual development. When Huelsenbeck went to study philosophy at the Sorbonne for the winter semester of 1912–1913, he contributed as a 'Paris correspondent' to Revolution, a periodical begun by Ball and his friend Hans Leybold.
- Huelsenbeck followed Ball to Berlin in 1914, where he continued to study German literature and began to publish poems, essays, and book reviews in Die Aktion. Huelsenbeck and Ball became increasingly opposed to the war and to the intensity of German nationalist sentiment. In the spring of 1915, they organized several gatherings to protest the war effort and to commemorate fallen poets. However, the audience who arrived expecting a solemn memorial was shocked when Huelsenbeck began reciting 'Negro' poems.
- Huelsenbeck went to Zurich at Ball's request, arriving at the Cabaret Voltaire in February 1916. Ball recorded his arrival in his diary and wrote: "He pleads for stronger rhythm (Negro rhythm). He would prefer to drum literature into the ground." His poetry attacked the church, the fatherland, and the canon of German literature (Friedrich von Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), and was accompanied by big drums, roars, whistles, and laughter.
- After Ball left Zurich in July 1916, Huelsenbeck developed stomach complaints and constantly talked about returning to Germany. By early 1917 he was in Berlin, where he introduced Dada ideas from Zurich and subsequently became the organizer, promoter, and historian of Dada. In January 1918 he delivered the 'Dada-Rede in Deutschland', and in April read a Dada manifesto. By the end of 1920, Huelsenbeck had already begun to chronicle the history of Dada. After the First International Dada Fair closed, he edited and published Dada Almanach, the first Dada anthology. En avant Dada, also published in 1920 and subtitled 'The History of Dadaism', indicates the extent to which Huelsenbeck considered the movement to be at an end.
- Throughout his Dada years, Huelsenbeck had been continually advancing his study of medicine and began to practice in 1920. He also enthusiastically pursued a career in journalism, becoming a permanent correspondent for several Berlin newspapers and a popular author of travel diaries compiled during his stints around the world as a ship's surgeon. By 1939 he was practicing medicine and psychiatry in Long Island, New York, under the name Charles R. Hulbeck. His Memoirs of a Dada Drummer, written in 1969, offers lively reminiscences of his Dada experiences. Richard Huelsenbeck died 1974 in Minusio, Switzerland.
- TEXT CREDITS
More extensive is Amanda L. Hockensmith, 'Richard Huelsenbeck', published in Leah Dickerman (ed.), Dada. Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (National Gallery of Art : Washington DC 2005) 476-477 and online available at Dada biographies: Richard Huelsenbeck, an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. The article is translated in French and published in Dada / Catalogue publié sous la direction de Laurent Le Bon (Éditions du centre Pompidou : Paris 2005).
- Archives and Collections
- Secondary Literature
- IMAGE CREDITS
banner: Richard Huelsenbeck (detail), of Richard Huelsenbeck (left) and Raoul Hausmann, in Dada Almanach / Richard Huelsenbeck, Editor (Erich Reiss Verlag : Berlin 1920) insert.
- portrait: Richard Huelsenbeck (left) and Raoul Hausmann, see above.