Hugo Ball  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hugo Ball (February 22, 1886September 14, 1927) was a German author and poet.

Hugo Ball was born in Pirmasens, Germany and was raised in a Catholic family. He studied sociology and philosophy at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg (1906–1907). In 1910, he moved to Berlin in order to become an actor and collaborated with Max Reinhardt. He was one of the leading Dada artists. He created the Dada Manifesto in 1916, making a political statement about his views on the terrible state of society and acknowledging his dislike for philosophies in the past claiming to possess the ultimate Truth. The same year as the Manifesto, in 1916, Ball wrote his poem "Karawane," which is a German poem consisting of nonsensical words. The meaning however resides in its meaninglessness, reflecting the chief principle behind Dadaism. Some of his other best known works include the poem collection 7 schizophrene Sonette, the drama Die Nase des Michelangelo, a memoir of the Zürich period Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary, and a biography of Hermann Hesse, entitled Hermann Hesse. Sein Leben und sein Werk (1927).

As co-founder of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, he led the Dada movement in Zürich, and is one of the people credited with naming the movement "Dada", by allegedly choosing the word at random from a dictionary. He was married to Emmy Hennings, another member of Dada.

His involvement with the Dada movement lasted approximately two years. He then worked for a short period as a journalist, for Freie Zeitung in Bern. Eventually he retired to the canton of Ticino where he lived a religious and relatively poor life. He died in Sant'Abbondio, Switzerland.

His poem "Gadji beri bimba" was later adapted to the song entitled "I Zimbra" on the 1979 Talking Heads album Fear of Music; he received a writing credit for the song on the track listing.

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