- Poet and tirelessly energetic propagandist for Dada, Tristan Tzara (pseudonym of Samuel Rosenstock), was born into a well-off Jewish family in Romania (1896). Attending high school he met Ion Vinea and Marcel Janco, both of whom shared his interest in French poetry. Together they founded the literary magazine Simbolul, in which Tzara, under the pseudonym S. Samyro, published a selection of poems written in Romanian and influenced by French symbolism.
- In 1915 Tzara's parents sent him to Zurich, where he enrolled at a university to study philosophy. His first poem signed with the name Tristan Tzara (tzara being the Romanian for land) appeared in October of that year. Shortly after his arrival in Zurich, Tzara reunited with Janco and Janco's brother Georges, with whom, according to Hugo Ball's diary, he attended the opening night of the Cabaret Voltaire. Over the course of the year in 1916, Tzara's activities at the Cabaret of reciting his poems and those of others led to a more active role in coordinating and planning Dada events. He also, probably through the influence of Richard Huelsenbeck, became interested in African poetry. The soirées nègres at the Cabaret Voltaire led to Tzara's lifelong collecting of African and Oceanic art. On July 23, 1918, in Zurich's Meise Hall, Tzara recited his 'Manifeste Dada 1918.' Also published in Dada 3, this radical dadaist declaration reached André Breton in Paris, thus beginning the connection that would bring Tzara and Dada to Paris a year later. It was through Tzara's efforts that Dada in Zurich reached a broad international audience, and he has often been described as embodying the migratory quality of Dada.
- In 1920 he brought Dadaism to Paris, where he initially joined Breton’s circle. He published Sept manifestes Dada (1924). He remained the editor of Dada, which appeared in France until 1922. As the cohesiveness of the Dada movement in Paris was disintegrating, Tzara published Le coeur à barbe, a journal reacting against Breton and Francis Picabia. He became part of the avant-garde group which brought about the birth of Surrealism in the 1930s, though he had split acrimoniously with Breton in 1922. In 1937 he joined the French Communist Party, and was involved in the Resistance during World War II. He was a writer of highly experimental and anarchic poetry. Tristan Tzara died in Paris 1963.
- TEXT CREDITS
More extensive is Amanada L. Hockensmith, 'Tristan Tzara', published in Leah Dickerman (ed.), Dada. Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (National Gallery of Art : Washington DC 2005) 488-489 and online available at Dada biographies: Tristan Tzara, 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) 134.
- Archives and Collections
- IMAGE CREDITS
banner: Tristan Tzara (1922)
- portrait: Tristan Tzara (year unknown) [Collection unknown]