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Artistic Collaboration

Discover the role of collaboration and play in Dada.

Dada Movement (Mouvement Dada)

Francis Picabia
(French, 1879–1953)

1919. Ink and pencil 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.

One who applies paint to canvas, wood, paper, or another support to produce a picture.

A representation of a person or thing in a work of art.

A work of art made with a pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements, often consisting of lines and marks (noun); the act of producing a picture with pencil, pen, crayon, charcoal, or other implements (verb, gerund).

A representation of a particular individual, usually intended to capture their likeness or personality.

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 formed in response to the disasters of World War I (1914–18) and to an emerging modern media and machine culture. Dada artists sought to expose accepted and often repressive conventions of order and logic, favoring strategies of chance, spontaneity, and irreverence. Dada artists experimented with a range of mediums, from collage and photomontage to everyday objects and performance, exploding typical concepts of how art should be made and viewed and what materials could be used. An international movement born in neutral Zurich and New York, Dada rapidly spread to Berlin, Cologne, Hannover, Paris, and beyond.

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.