Tristan Tzara (French: [tʁistɑ̃ dzaʁa]; Romanian: [trisˈtan ˈt͡sara]; born Samuel or Samy Rosenstock, also known as S. Samyro; April 16 [Old Style April 4] 1896 – December 25, 1963) was a Romanian and French avant-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-establishment Dada movement.
Having spoken in favor of liberalization in the People's Republic of Hungary just before the Revolution of 1956, he distanced himself from the French Communist Party, of which he was by then a member.
In October 1956, Tzara visited the People's Republic of Hungary, where the government of Imre Nagy was coming into conflict with the Soviet Union. This followed an invitation on the part of Hungarian writer Gyula Illyés, who wanted his colleague to be present at ceremonies marking the rehabilitation of László Rajk (a local communist leader whose prosecution had been ordered by Joseph Stalin).Tzara was receptive of the Hungarians' demand for liberalization contacted the anti-Stalinist and former Dadaist Lajos Kassák, and deemed the anti-Soviet movement "revolutionary". However, unlike much of Hungarian public opinion, the poet did not recommend emancipation from Soviet control, and described the independence demanded by local writers as "an abstract notion". The statement he issued, widely quoted in the Hungarian and international press, forced a reaction from the PCF: through Aragon's reply, the party deplored the fact that one of its members was being used in support of "anti-communist and anti-Soviet campaigns."
His return to France coincided with the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution, which ended with a Soviet military intervention. On October 24, Tzara was ordered to a PCF meeting, where activist Laurent Casanova reportedly ordered him to keep silent, which Tzara did. Tzara's apparent dissidence and the crisis he helped provoke within the Communist Party were celebrated by Breton, who had adopted a pro-Hungarian stance, and who defined his friend and rival as "the first spokesman of the Hungarian demand."
He was thereafter mostly withdrawn from public life, dedicating himself to researching the work of 15th-century poet François Villon, and, like his fellow Surrealist Michel Leiris, to promoting primitive and African art, which he had been collecting for years. In early 1957, Tzara attended a Dada retrospective on the Rive Gauche, which ended in a riot caused by the rival avant-garde Mouvement Jariviste, an outcome which reportedly pleased him.