Tristan Tzara (born Samuel or Samy
Rosenstock, also known as S. Samyro; April 4 or April 16, 1896 –
December 25, 1963) was a Romanian and Frenchavant-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-establishmentDada movement. Under
the influence of Adrian Maniu, the adolescent
Tzara became interested in Symbolism and co-founded the magazine Simbolulwith Ion Vinea (with whom he also wrote experimental poetry) 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 nihilisticside, 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 eclecticmodernism of
Vinea and Janco. This personal vision on art defined his Dadaist plays The Gas
Heart (1921) and Handkerchief of Clouds (1924). A
forerunner of automatist techniques, Tzara eventually
rallied with Breton's Surrealism, and, under its influence, wrote his
celebrated utopianpoem The Approximate Man.
During the final part of his career, Tzara combined his humanist and anti-fascistperspective with a