Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Tzara, Tristan
Moinesti, Romania, 1896–Paris, 1963
Tristan Tzara’s importance for the history of modern art is split equally between his creative output as a poet, playwright, and performer and his activities as a publisher, manifesto writer, and organizer. As a collector, he acquired large holdings of photographs, drawings, and collages by an international group of artists, often as gifts or exchanges. 

Born Samuel Rosenstock, Tzara spent the First World War in neutral Switzerland, where he founded the Zurich Dada movement in 1916. During this time, he invented an eccentric persona for himself as a monocled impresario of the international avant-garde. In Zurich, Tzara organized soirées of “artistic entertainments” at the Cabaret Voltaire with fellow Dadaists—including Hans Arp, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, and Sophie Taeuber—where prints by Pablo Picasso shared wall space with fantastical masks, and vaudeville songs were performed alongside rigorous modern compositions by Arnold Schoenberg. Tzara built an international network of avant-garde artists, who were connected primarily through the distribution and exchange of cheaply made and rapidly produced publications, including his own multilingual journal, DADA

While Tzara proclaimed that Dada’s multifarious artistic activities were in opposition to all prior art and traditional values—embracing negation and nonsense—he was steeped in the artistic and intellectual world of Cubism, even as he railed against its perceived academicization. Indeed, he noted in 1916 that his cacophonous “simultaneous poems” were a logical continuation of Picasso’s papiers collés. In 1931 he wrote one of the first extended studies of Cubist collage for Christian Zervos’s magazine Cahiers d’Art. Tzara also corresponded and shared avant-garde journals with the Cubist dealer and theorist Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, whom he met around 1917 during the latter’s exile in Bern. 

For his Dadaglobe project (1920–21), Tzara solicited original contributions from fifty international artists for an encyclopedic publication; however, for reasons pragmatic and personal, the project was abandoned. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection holds photographs by Man Ray and Christian Schad that were owned by Tzara. At the fourth Kahnweiler sequestration sale in May 1923, Tzara purchased Picasso’s Head of a Man (1912), adding to his collection of at least six papiers collés. Tzara recalled that the four Kahnweiler sales attracted a number of prominent European avant-garde figures, including André Breton, Paul Éluard, Le Corbusier, Amédée Ozenfant, and Gertrude Stein, and constituted, with bitter irony, the greatest historical exhibition of Cubism.

Contributed by Trevor Stark, January 2015
For more information, see:
Dickerman, Leah. “Zurich Dada.” In Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2005. 

Sudhalter, Adrian. “Tristan Tzara’s ‘International of the Mind’: Dadaglobe (1920–21).” In Virgin Microbe: Essays on Dada. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2014.

Tristan Tzara, "LE CUBISME ET SON TEMPS, entrevue avec Paul Chavasse," in Oeuvres Complètes: V. 5, ed. Henri Béhar. Paris: Flammarion, 1982, pp. 441-443.

--------------- “Zurich Chronicle, 1915–1919.” In Dada Almanac, translated by Malcolm Green. London: Atlas Press, 1993. 

For materials from the entirety of Tzara’s career, including complete correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and printed matter, see: Fonds Tristan Tzara, Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet, Université de Paris, Paris, France, for which information can be found by clicking here.

Artwork from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection formerly owned by Tzara:
Head of a Man
Head of a Man Pablo Picasso
Paris, 1912