German-born artist Max Ernst once quipped that it was impossible to stage an exhibition on Dadaism, saying it was like trying to capture the violence of an explosion by presenting the shrapnel.
The avant-garde early 20th century art movement was born out of the despair many artists felt over the deaths of millions of soldiers in World War I.
Rejecting the society they considered responsible for the slaughter, these poets, painters and photographers lashed out at establishment values with absurdist slogans and provocative images.
In a bid to capture the explosive energy of the era, France's Pompidou Center on Monday unveiled a sprawling Dada retrospective which it billed as the largest in 40 years.
Exhibits range from the porcelain urinal which Duchamp infamously elevated to the rank of art _ thereby laying the foundation of conceptual art _ to Picabia's target paintings, which prefigure those of American pop artist Jasper Johns, the AP reports.
Fans of Man Ray's modernist photographic experiments will find a number of his so-called rayographs, stark black-and-white prints obtained by placing objects directly on photographic paper and exposing them to the light.
Each of the movement's artists was prolific across a wide variety of disciplines, so that Man Ray was also turning out sculptures while Ernst wrote poems alongside his main activity, painting.
The exhibition was put together with the help of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and New York's Museum of Modern Art, which will display a condensed version of the exhibition next year on Feb. 19-May 14 and June 18-Sept. 11, respectively. AM