Richard Huelsenbeck

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photo of Richard Huelsenbeck, 1920

Richard Huelsenbeck (23 April 189220 April 1974) was a German writer, poet, and psychoanalyst, and one of the leading Dada artists; he participated in Zürich in the 'Cabaret Voltaire'.

Quotes of Richard Huelsenbeck[edit]

sorted chronologically, after date of the quotes of Richard Huelsenbeck
photo of Huelsenbeck's short novel, published in 1918
photo of Richard Huelsenbeck (left) & Raoul Hausmann (right), 1920 - in Prague, during their Dada Tour, January to April 1920
photo of the book-cover of Huelsenbeck's 'History of Dada / Die Geschichte des Dadaismus', published in 1920
photo of the Grand opening of the first Dada exhibition, Berlin, June 1920
photo of the book-cover of Huelsenbeck's novel 'Doctor Billig am Ende', published in 1921
  • Dada hurts. Dada does not jest, for the reason that it was experienced by revolutionary men and not by philistines who demand that art be a decoration for the mendacity of their own emotions.. .I am firmly convinced that all art will become dadaistic in the course of time, because from Dada proceeds the perpetual urge for its renovation.
    • Quote of Huelsenbeck, in 'Dada Lives', Transition no. 25 (Autumn 1936), as cited in The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology, ed. Robert Motherwell (1951)
  • As Arp and I are sitting in the large living room of my house on Central Park in November 1958, we try again and again to understand the significance of Dada for ourselves and for others. Many elements surfaced in me and in the 'Fantastic Prayers' [his poems Phantastische Gebete, Zurich 1916] at the same time; resistance against the 'civilization' we live in, fury about a purely factual world which leaves out personality and thus creative power, the means of irony and underlying religiousness. Ball turned religious during the times of dadaism, Arp is a religious person today, and I have always been one, without wanting to realize it, perhaps without knowing it.
    • Quote in his 'Preface' by Richard Huelsenbeck, New York, November 1958, in Phantastische Gebete; published by Arche Verlag, Zurich, 1960 (transl. by Johannes Beilharz, 2000)
  • There is a difference between sitting quietly in Switzerland [Dada in Zurich] and bedding down on a vulcano, as we did in Berlin.
    • quote from his later memories on Dada; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 4
    • Huelsenbeck left in 1917 neutral Swiss (Zurich) for war-torn German Berlin]
  • [ Tinguely is a] Meta-Dadaist... [who had] fulfilled certain ideas of ours, notably the idea of motion.
    • Quote of w:Richard Huelsenbeck (1961), as cited in Calvin Tomkins (1965) Ahead of the game: four versions of avant-garde, p. 160
  • The dissection of words into sounds is contrary to the purpose of language and applies musical principles to an independent realm whose symbolism is aimed at a logical comprehension of one’s environment.. ..the value of language depends on comprehensibility rather than musicality
    • as quoted in The Sound of Poetry / The poetry of Sound, ed. Marjorie Perloff & Craig Dworkin; University of Chicago Press, 2009, p. 310, note 22
    • a critic on the sound-poetry of Dadaist Hugo Ball

'End of the World / Ende der Welt', 1919[edit]

Quotes of Huelsenbeck, from: 'End of the World / Ende der Welt', first publication in 'Der Dada', no. 2, 1919, p. 5[1]; from 'Waggish', on literature, tech, film, etc.; transl. David Auerbach, 1987'

  • The cows sit on the telegraph poles and play chess
    The cockatoo under the skirts of the Spanish dancer
    Sings as sadly as a headquarters bugler and the cannon lament all day...
  • That is the lavender landscape Herr Mayer was talking about
    when he lost his eye
    Only the fire department can drive the nightmare from the drawing-
    room but all the hoses are broken...
  • Have you seen the fish that have been standing in front of the
    opera in cutaways
    for the last two days and nights..?
    Ah ah ye great devils – ah ah ye keepers of bees and commandments
    With a bow wow wow with a bow woe woe who does today not know
    what our Father Homer wrote...
  • I hold peace and war in my toga but I'l take a cherry flip
    Today nobody knows whether he was tomorrow
    They beat time with a coffin lid
    If somebody had the nerve to rip the tail feathers
    out of the trolley car it's a great age...
  • The professors of zoology gather in the meadows
    With the palms of their hands they turn back the rainbows
    the great magician sets the tomatoes on his forehead
    Again thou hauntest castle and grounds
    The roebuck whistles the stallion bounds
    (And this is how the world is this is all that's ahead of us)

Quotes about Richard Huelsenbeck[edit]

sorted chronologically, after date of the quotes about Richard Huelsenbeck
  • Huelsenbeck has arrived [from Berlin]. He pleads for an intensification of rhythm (Negro rhythm). He would prefer to drum literature into the ground.
    • Quote of Hugo Ball in a diary-note, 11 February 1916; in his edited diaries Die Flucht aus der Zeit /Flight out of Time
    • Huelsenbeck went to Zurich at Ball's request, arriving at the 'Cabaret Voltaire' in February 1916. Ball recorded the arrival in his diary
  • So, Huelsenbeck has put our feud in print -- HA HA
    So he sneers at my bourgeois home -- my child
    who cries, who has to be changed and fed
    So he laughs at my solid wife -- that she's no Anna Bloom.. ..The one who makes art -- he's the artist.. .So I spit back at you, Huelsenbeck
    But where you spit venom, I spit art
    I laugh at you -- HA HA --
    I laugh at you
    • Quote of Kurt Schwitters, in 'Huelsendada [Huelsenbeck-Dada]', 1920, transl. & ed. by Colin Morton[2], 1987
    • Huelsenbeck attacked Kurt Schwitters on being a Dadaist without any political points of view; and Schwitters 'spits' here back
  • When the word 'Dada' came to me [in German: 'mir begegnete'], I was called upon twice by Dionysios [Areopagita]. D.A. – D.A. (H...k [= Huelsenbeck] wrote about this mystical birth [of the new word, Dada], as did I in earlier notes)
    • Quote of Hugo Ball, in his entry for 18 June 1921, in Die Flucht aus der Zeit /Flight out of Time, 18 June 1921, p. 296; as quoted by Debbie Lewer in 'Papers of Surrealism', Issue 6 - Autumn 2007, p. 9

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