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Francis Picabia
Dada Movement (Mouvement Dada), 1919
Ink and pencil on paper
51.1 x 36.2 cm (20.1 x 14.3 in.)
© 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Dada was a movement that originated in Zurich in 1916 in response to the chaotic Western society caused by WWI and bourgeois society, which was blamed for the war. Rejecting traditional art forms, it proposed a new anti-art that aimed to prove art's irrelevance and explore new forms of creation. Dada is often associated with nihilism and the rejection of meaning, as reflected in its name, which is a nonsensical word in French and German. Prominent figures of this movement are Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp, both of whom sought to challenge conventional artistic structures and meanings in their works. Dada spread across Europe, notably to German cities such as Berlin, Cologne, and Hannover, as well as to the United States, particularly in New York City. Its unconventional approach greatly impacted the foundation of Surrealism in 1924.

Neo-Dada emerged in the 1950s as a response to the seriousness and introspection of Abstract Expressionism. The movement emphasized the use of everyday objects and materials in art, such as found objects and industrial materials. Artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns became prominent figures in this movement, which paved the way for the emergence of Pop Art in the later part of the decade. Neo-Dada artists aimed to reinvigorate the avant-garde spirit of Dada, which had become institutionalized and stagnant by the 1950s. The movement rejected the idea of art as a precious object and emphasized the importance of process and everyday materials. Neo-Dada remains influential in contemporary art and continues to inspire artists to challenge traditional artistic structures and meanings.

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