The above movements represent various forms of avant garde dissatisfaction with the status quo, the need for cultural change and an emphasis on the future rather than the past. The movements are deeply intertwined and only differ in respects such as the coinage of a name originating from a particular country, an aesthetic style, or slight philosophical differences between the groups. As the movements encompass a broad range of ideas and arts within the period there are as many contradictions as there are similarities.
Dada was an aggressive rejection of the past and preoccupied with destroying the status quo in a time of moral, spiritual, economic and political turmoil presumably to make way for a healthier culture to flourish in its absence. It originated in Switzerland and was primarily a philosophical and ideological movement that was represented in the arts. Over time as european artists moved overseas Dada soon broke its continental levees and was synthesised into various international art groups. Famous examples include Duchamp’s readymade urinal and Schwitter’s poems and collage.
Expressionism is an academic term used primarily for grouping painting from this period but can be expanded to include any medium within the arts that champions free expression. The expressionist whether in film, painting or poetry was concerned with expressing himself and rather than being confined to traditional objective methods of expression. An expressionist’s work is subjective. Members from the other groups could be said to be expressionist or use expressionist methods .
Constructivism originated in Russia and like Dada was an active rejection of the past. Particular to Russia, having recently reintroduced a limited capitalist policy, this included promoting capitalism through new forms of graphic and commercial art. This movement while ideologically runs parallel and was associated with other continental groups was largely preoccupied with issues of national politics.
Futurism came from Italy and was associated with its leader Filippo Marinetti. The movement spread all over Europe and it manifestations in painting, design and architecture became indistinguishable from Dada, Constructivism and Expressionism. Futurism could be said to represent a more positive emphasis of the future rather than an aggressive rejection of the past in the case of Dada.
Art Deco is the aesthetic synthesis of the above ideas primarily into architecture and design while some artists have been said to be described as Art Deco. Art Deco survived well into the sixties. The idea evolved into the modern idea of functionality.