In the past, museums have often tacked Dada on to Surrealism shows as a precursor. It was tempting to do so since Andre Breton, a Dadaist writer, later became the guru of Surrealism in Paris, and [Max Ernst], a Dadaist painter, made his mark a few years later as a Surrealist painter. Ernst's "Submerged by the Waters," painted in 1919 when he was a member of the Dada group in Cologne, is a good example of Dada molding into Surrealism. There is an eerie, dream- like atmosphere as a swimmer stands upside down in a pool, an armless statue guards the scene, and a moon shows the face of a clock. Ernst was so caught up in the movement that he sometimes signed his work "Dada Ernst" and created a poster crying out "DADA siegt! (DADA Triumphs!)" for an exhibition.
The National Gallery show demonstrates that Dada artists also followed other paths than Surrealism. The surest evidence comes in the display of works of the Dada group in Berlin just after the war. There are biting, bitter paintings and drawings by artists who would become great social critics of life in Germany between the world wars. The most dramatic examples are the works of [George Grosz] and [Otto Dix].
What ties the disparate works of artists like [Marcel Duchamp], Ernst, Grosz and Dix together is a community of iconoclastic or Dada feeling. This feeling is amply illustrated in the National Gallery show by dozens of posters, books, magazines, newsletters, manifestos, photographs and movies produced by Dada.