Tristan Tzara biography

Tristan Tzara

Poet, Author

1896 – 1963


Who was Tristan Tzara?

Tristan Tzara was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, he was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the anti-establishment Dada movement. Under the influence of Adrian Maniu, the adolescent Tzara became interested in Symbolism and co-founded the magazine Simbolul with Ion Vinea and painter Marcel Janco. During World War I, after briefly collaborating on Vinea's Chemarea, he joined Janco in Switzerland. There, Tzara's shows at the Cabaret Voltaire and Zunfthaus zur Waag, as well as his poetry and art manifestos, became a main feature of early Dadaism. His work represented Dada's nihilistic side, in contrast with the more moderate approach favored by Hugo Ball.

After moving to Paris in 1919, Tzara, by then one of the "presidents of Dada", joined the staff of Littérature magazine, which marked the first step in the movement's evolution toward Surrealism. He was involved in the major polemics which led to Dada's split, defending his principles against André Breton and Francis Picabia, and, in Romania, against the eclectic modernism of Vinea and Janco. This personal vision on art defined his Dadaist plays The Gas Heart and Handkerchief of Clouds. A forerunner of automatist techniques, Tzara eventually aligned himself with Breton's Surrealism, and under its influence wrote his celebrated utopian poem The Approximate Man.


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Apr 16, 1896
Also known as
  • Samuel Rosenstock
  • Tzara, Tristan
  • S. Samyro
  • Judaism
  • Romania
  • France
  • Saint Sava National College
  • University of Bucharest
Lived in
  • Bacău County
Dec 25, 1963
Resting place
Montparnasse Cemetery

on July 23, 2013

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