DADA & Modernist Magazines


cover Mécano Under the pseudonym I.K. Bonset, Theo van Doesburg published 4 issues of the Dadaist magazine Mécano which stressed creative principles and new art alongside some of the more familiar Dadaist rejection of the past. In Mécano there was a permanent confusion of the nihilistic rage and deep cynicism of the postwar mood with what was more like the clearly less earnest destructiveness of prewar modernist bravado and shock tactics.

Van Doesburg's arguments were rarely negative, though he could make radical Dadaist gestures. In his manifesto 'Tot een constructieve dichtkunst' ['Towards a constructive poetry'] published in Mécano No. 4 (White issue 1923), he came close to the principles which were to characterise early Surrealism, but he revealed most pointedly his complete sympathy with the ideas and work of Schwitters. Van Doesburg's stress on 'the reconstruction of poetry' on an aesthetic basis as the long-term aim makes Mécano, in spite of its Dadaist sympathies, quite unlike French Dada periodicals.

Based on Alan Young, Dada and After: Extremist Modernism and English Literature (Manchester University Press : Manchester 1983) 146.

N° 4/5 (January 1924) [Collectie Institituut Collectie Nederland]


  • Mécano
    N° Jaune (January 1922) - N° 4/5 (January 1924)
    Edited by Theo van Doesburg; published by De Stijl, Leiden. Distributed as a supplement to De Stijl and also sold separately
    Edition 200-250 (17-23 cm)
    N° 1-3 printed on paper tinted the issue color on one side and issued as folders ([16] p. on sheet 32 × 50 cm, folded to 17 × 13 cm. N° 4/5 issued as pamphlet ([16] p.
    Special issues:
    • Jaune, Geel, Gelb, Yellow (January 1922)
      Blue, Blauw, Blau, Blue (July 1922)
      N° 3 Rouge, Rood, Rot, Red (October 1922). Verslag van het 'Internionaal Congres van Konstruktivisten en Dadaïsten', held 25 September 1922, Weimar
      N° 4/5 White, Blanc, Wit, Weiß (January 1924)
  • bibliographic references
    Extensive bibliographic description in Theo van Doesburg. Oeuvre catalogus / redactie Els Hoek (Centraal Museum : Utrecht / Kröller-Müller Museum : Otterlo 2000) 308-310.
  • contributors
    Hans Arp, Umberto Boccioni, I.K. Bonset, Jean Crotti, Theo van Doesburg, Paul Eluard, F.T. Marinetti, Piet Mondriaan, Francis Picabia, Ezra Pond, Man Ray, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, Tristan Tzara, Nicolas Beauduin, Serge Charchoune, Raoul Hausmann, Wyndham Lewis, László Moholy-Nagy, Peter Röhl, Max Ernst Benjamin Péret, Kurt Schwitters, Rosie Spotts, Georges Vantongerloo, Malcolm Cowley, Cornelis van Eesteren, Julius Evola, Richard Roland Holst, Pierre de Masot, E.L.T. Mesens.


  • [printed] Reprinted by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter Konig (Cologne 1979).
  • [printed] Reprinted by Quarto Press Reprint (Vaduz 1979).
  • [printed] Reprinted by Van Gennep (Amsterdam 1980).
  • [printed] Reprinted (facsimiles in color, nos. 1-4/5) in Dada (Éditions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 678-681.

  • [anthology] 'Mécano', in The Dada Reader. A Critical Anthology / edited by Dawn Ades (Tate Publishing : London 2006).

secondary literature

  • Dawn Ades
    'Mécano' in The Dada Reader. A Critical Anthology / edited by Dawn Ades (Tate Publishing : London 2006) 262.
  • Klaus Beekman
    'Der Bilderstreit um die historische Avantgarde in den Niederlanden', in Der Blick vom Wolkenkratzer. Avantgarde, Avantgardekritik, Avangardeforschung / hrsg. von Wolfgang Asholt, Walter Fähnders. Avant garde critical studies 14 (Rodopi : Amsterdam 2000) 231-253 [URL].
  • Carole Benaiteau
    'Mécano', in Dada (Éditions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 676-681.
  • Sascha Bru
    'The Will to Style' : the Dutch contribution to the avant-garde : Leiden: De Stijl (1917-32), Mécano (1922-3), Amsterdam: Wendingen (1918-32), i10 (1927-9), Groningen: The Next Call (1923-6)', in The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines. Volume III: Europe 1880-1940 / edited by Peter Brooker, Sascha Bru, Andrew Thacker, and Christian Weikop (Oxford University Press : Oxford etc. 2013) 293-312. google-books
  • Marco Entrop
    'Vive l’esprit mécanique! La revue dadaïste Mécano (1922-1923)', in Reviews, Zeitschriften, revues : Die Fackel, Die Weltbühne, Musikblätter des Anbruch, Le disque vert, Mécano, Versty / edited by Sophie Levie. Avant garde critical studies 9 (Rodopi : Amsterdam 1994) 139-167.
  • Emily Hage
    New York and European Dada Art Journals, 1916-1926: International Venues of Exchange (S.l. : s.n. 2005) 326-339.