THE MASK – Marcel Janco

Amidst the horrendous global war (1914 -1918), a new movement was born at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
The Dada movement was to establish its antipathy for the horrors of the first world war.

This blog explores the masks created by Marcel Janco, one of the first members of the famous Dada movement.

Janco’s masks played a vital role in the performances at the cabaret. They were made out of non-conventional materials such as cardboard, sack-cloth, paint, glue etc.
The shabby finish suggests that the Dadaists were against geometry and any sort of aesthetics.

One of the key beliefs of the Dada artists was to imply the relationship between the primitive and the modern. Hence, the mask too gives off a very unrefined and primal look.
however, the flatness and angular eyes portray hints of cubism and expressionism.

Coming to the main feature of what made the mask so unusual – the power to transform the dancers into shamans. The performances were wild and they intended to challenge the traditional society and art. He who wore the mask would be possessed by its spirit.
Just as there was no boundary between art and life, there was no boundary between the performers and the audience. In short, it was shocking, eerie, extremely provocative and mad.

The usage of red paint was to depict blood, and the disfigurement: the gas masks used during war. The placement of the different elements of the mask, in a way, suggests destruction, demolition and reconstruction, thereby, once again, expressing a strong dislike towards the war.

“ We had lost confidence in our culture. Everything had to be demolished. We would begin again after the tabula rasa. At the Cabaret Voltaire we began by shocking common sense, public opinion, education, institutions, museums, good taste, in short, the whole prevailing order.”

-Marcel Janco

Works cited :

⁃ Marcel Janco Artworks & Famous Art | TheArtStory

⁃ The below artworks are the most important by Marcel Janco – that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist. Artwork description & Analysis: This crowded canvas conveys the chaos, action, sound, and

fury of a night at the Cabaret Voltaire. The … artworks

⁃ Marcel Janco – Europeana Collections

⁃ Marcel Janco (German: [maɐˈ̯ sɛl ˈjaŋko], French: [maʁsɛl ʒɑ̃ko], common rendition of the Romanian name Marcel

Hermann Iancu pronounced [marˈtʃ͡ el ˈherman ˈjaŋku], last name also Ianco, Janko or Jancu; May 24, 1895 – April 21, 1984) was a Romanian and Israeli visual artist, architect and art theorist. He was

the co-inventor of Dadaism and a…


⁃ smith, susan H. “Masks in Modern Drama.” Google Books, Google, 1984, id=suuJ_m64kEcC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=marcel%2Bjanco%2Bma sk&source=bl&ots=k98wkQ0pta&sig=ACfU3U0YfrbqmApBhIXwO78 w_S5FASxoEg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi40pa1wr7kAhUDOSsKH dOnCLw4ChDoATADegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=marcel%20janco% 20mask&f=false.

⁃ Museum of Modern Art | MoMA


⁃ Marcel Janco – 35 artworks –

⁃ Marcel Janco was the brother of Georges and Jules Janco, who were his artistic partners during and after the Dada episode. His brother-in-law and fellow Constructivist promoter was the writer Jacques G. Costin, known as a survivor of 1940s antisemitism. Marcel Janco was born on May 24, 1895 in Bucharest to

an upper middle class Jewish family.


⁃ Dada – Wikipedia

⁃ Dada (/ ˈ d ɑː d ɑː /) or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (circa 1916); New York Dada began circa 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris. Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement

consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism …


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