The Art of Science: The Gramineous Bicycle


The Dada movement of the early 20th century was a reaction against the conventions of artistic beauty and meaning.  Dada’s practitioners worked with images and materials which were not considered traditionally “appropriate” for art.  This painting, The Gramineous Bicycle (c. 1921) by Max Ernst is a perfect example. According to the Museum of Modern Art:

Ernst was fascinated with microscopic images, which were first broadly distributed in the early twentieth century. Here, he created an overpainting on the ambitious scale of traditional oil painting by using a commercially available teaching chart. Ernst inverted the underlying diagram probably illustrating mitosis in the cells of a gramineous (grassy plant) specimen, and painted in a black ground. He combined these animated organic forms with what appear to be machine parts, while the inscription “The gramineous bicycle garnished with bells the dappled fire damps and the echinoderms bending the spine to look for caresses” lends amusing sexual connotations to the hairs, orifices, and protrusions of these microorganisms.
Gallery Label, Museum of Modern Art

Ernst’s work celebrates the development of science and technology in a uniquely playful and artistic way.

Thanks to @Free_Radical1 for the suggestion.

Author: michelebanks1

Artist and blogger

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