Related themes


Artistic Collaboration

Discover the role of collaboration and play in Dada.


Dada Movement

Francis Picabia
(French, 1879–1953)

1919. Ink on paper, 20 1/8 x 14 1/4" (51.1 x 36.2 cm)

If, as Dada artists claimed, their movement was a noisy alarm that woke modern art from its slumber, then this drawing by Francis Picabia reveals how the alarm was sounded. His diagram of the wiring of a Dada alarm clock historically plots the current of modern art, beginning with the 19th-century French portrait painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and continuing through to 391, Picabia’s own Dada magazine.

A representation of a particular individual.

Modern can mean related to current times, but it can also indicate a relationship to a particular set of ideas that, at the time of their development, were new or even experimental.

An artistic and literary movement that grew out of dissatisfaction with traditional social values and conventional artistic practices during World War I (1914–18). Dada artists were disillusioned by the social values that led to the war and sought to expose accepted and often repressive conventions of order and logic by shocking people into self-awareness.

Like Clockwork
Though he had previously used automobiles as the main source of his machine images, Picabia shifted to clocks when he moved to Switzerland, a nation known for the quality of its timepieces. Picabia’s preoccupation with machine imagery was by no means unique; charts and mechanical illustrations like this became a favorite Dada motif just after World War I.