Francis Picabia - Photo of the artist, November 1925 - Image via netdna-cdncom november

Francis Picabia/ Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia

France 1879 - 1953

Surrealism, Dada, Neo-impressionism

www.picabia.com

Francis Picabia
Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia
Male
France
1879

Francis Picabia was a celebrated French avant-garde painter, poet and typographist who was one of the leading figures of the Dada movement both in Paris and New York. After shortly experimenting with Impressionism and Pointillism at the initial stage of his career, Picabia became associated with Cubism as his highly abstract compositions were colorful and rich in contrasts. After short stints with Fauvism and Neo-Impressionism, he became the major artist of the Dada movement. He was later briefly associated with Surrealism, but would soon turn his back on the art establishment as a whole. Despite the association with so many movements, Picabia managed to leave a strong mark on all of them and it is fair to say that the entire outlook of the modern art would not be quite the same if Francis was never a part of its crucial early-20th-century stage.

A picture of two works made by Francis Picabia that were immensely popular in every vital french gallery of the 1930s
Francis Picabia – Aello, 1930 / Pierrot – Images via moma.org and cloudfront.net

Early Life and Related Influences

Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia was born in Paris to a French mother and a Cuban father of an aristocratic Spanish descent. Financially independent, Picabia studied under Fernand Cormon and others at the École des Arts Decoratifs in the late 1890s. Fernand Cormon took him into his academy at 104 boulevard de Clichy, where Vincent Van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec had also studied[1]. In the beginning of his career, from 1903 to 1908, Picabia was influenced by the Impressionist paintings of Alfred Sisley. Small churches, alleys, rooftops of Paris, river banks, ships — these were his subject matter.

Two images of Picabia's body of works that show how the artist had a subtle religious note
Francis Picabia – On the Banks of the Creuse, 1909 / Adam and Eve – Images via wikipedia.org and pinterest.com

Cubism and Proto-Dada

From 1909, Francis Picabia came under the influence of those that would soon be called Cubists and later form the Golden Section (Section d’Ory). The same year, he married Gabrielle Buffet. Around 1911, Picabia joined the Puteaux Group, members of which he met in Puteaux, a commune in the western suburbs of Paris. There he became friends with Marcel Duchamp and Guillaume Apollinaire. From 1913 to 1915, Picabia traveled to New York City on several occasions and took an active part in the local avant-garde movements, introducing the magic of European modern art to America.

Although he so easily shifted from one movement to another, abstract painting was constantly one of Francis Picabia’s main creative pillars

These images show just how much an advanced conceptual basis Francis Picabia had in the early 20th century
Francis Picabia – Salome / The Procession, Seville, 1912 – Images via pinterest.com and wikipedia.org

Francis Picabia’s Manifesto

In 1916, Picabia started his well-known Dada periodical 391, modeled on Alfred Stieglitz‘s own periodical. He continued the periodical with the help of Marcel Duchamp in the United States. In the mean time, seeking treatment for depression and suicidal impulses, he had met Tristan Tzara whose radical ideas thrilled Picabia[2]. Picabia continued his involvement in the Dada[3] through 1919 in Zürich and Paris, before breaking away from it after developing an interest in Surrealist art[4].

Alongside Duchamp, Francis Picabia was central to the Dada when it began to change and emerge in Paris during the early 1920s

Hera and Otaïti are the titles of wto Picabia works that were fairly overlooked during the artist's career
Francis Picabia – Hera / Otaïti, 1930 – Images via pinterest.com and tate.org.uk

Surrealism and Later Stages of His Biography

Francis Picabia denounced Dada in 1921 and issued a personal attack against Andre Breton in the final issue of 391, in 1924[5]. The same year, he put in an appearance in the René Clair‘s surrealist film Entr’acte, firing a cannon from a rooftop. The film served as an intermission piece for Picabia’s avant-garde ballet, Relâche, premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. Soon, Picabia returned to figurative painting and became a close friend of the modernist novelist Gertrude Stein. In the early 1940s, he moved to the southern parts of the French country, where his work took a surprising turn – he produced a series of paintings based on the nude glamor photos in French girlie magazines like Paris Sex-Appeal, in a garish style which appears to subvert traditional, academic nude painting. Before the end of World War II, Picabia returned to Paris where he resumed abstract painting[6] and writing poetry. A large retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris in the spring of 1949. Francis Picabia died in Paris in 1953 and was entombed in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

Francis Picabia remains venerated by contemporary painters as one of the century’s most intriguing and inscrutable artists who dictated the direction of avant-garde thoughts

Two images of works made by Picabia that show why the artist was such a hit in just about any 1930s french gallery
Francis Picabia – Meliboeus / Lunaris, 1929 – Images via pinterest.com

Failures and Unknowns of Francis Picabia

The world is divided into two categories: failures and unknowns. Francis Picabia stated this during an interview following his exit from the art world. Although a bit vague, it still provides us with an extremely useful indicator of how the artist’s mindset was molded. Picabia was never satisfied with lingering in one spot, convinced every prolonged stay would only result in a failure and ruin everything previously achieved. Instead of steadfastly adhering to any one approach, he constantly strived for new challenges and creative spheres, shifting easily between abstraction and figuration, and willingly becoming a part of new movements whilst dismissing the previous ones he was in. And in the process, Picabia encouraged some remarkable innovations and became known for a rich variety of work ranging from strange, comic-erotic images of machine parts to text-based paintings that foreshadowed aspects of Conceptual art.

References:

  1. Camfield, W. A., Francis Picabia: His Art, Life, and Times, Princeton University Press; First Edition, 1979
  2. Dietrich, D., Doherty, E., Kriebel, S., Mileaf, J., Taylor, M., Witkovsky, M., Dickerman, L., Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris, National Gallery of Art, Washington/D.A.P., 2008
  3. Chirico, G. D., Paz, M., Michaud, E., Garafola, L., Painters In The Theater Of The European Avant-Garde, Actar/Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and Aldeasa, 2001
  4. Picabia, F., Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2016
  5. Wipplinger, H. P., Felix, Z., Lebel, J. J., Metzger, R., Francis Picabia, Walther König, Köln; Mul edition, 2012
  6. Hickney, D., Francis Picabia: Late Paintings, Micheal Werner, 2000

Featured image: Francis Picabia – Photo of the artist – Image via netdna-cdn.com
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Das Auto In Der Kunst. Rasende LeidenschaftKunsthalle in Emden, Emden Group
2017The SchoolJack Shainman Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2017IntuitionPalazzo Fortuny, Venice Group
2017FrauenzimmerGalerie Klüser, Munich Group
2017Arme SammlerKunstverein Ruhr e.V., Essen Group
2017SurrealistasGalería Leandro Navarro, Madrid Group
2017ColoriCastello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Turin Group
2017London The Ends Of CollageLuxembourg & Dayan, London Group
2017Figures et formes géométriquesGalerie 1900-2000, Paris Group
2016Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change DirectionMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY Solo
2016Francis Picabia: A RetrospectiveKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
2016Francis Picabia: Arbeiten 1909 Bis 1947Galerie Haas AG, ZurichSolo
2016la femme visibleGalerie Natalie Seroussi, Paris Group
2016DF1900-2000@ValentinValentin, Paris Group
2016HolidayIBID Projects, London Group
2016Dadaglobe ReconstructedMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY Group
2016Cine Dadá, Cine SurrealistaCentre Pompidou Malaga, Málaga Group
2016Die Fremde, 1998Galerie NEU, Berlin Group
2016Les Fleurs Du MalNahmad Contemporary, New York City, NY Group
2016FéticheVenus Over Manhattan, New York City, NY Group
2016Les machines célibatairesle lieu unique, Nantes Group
2016Everything Is DadaYale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT Group
2016Dadaglobe ReconstructedKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Group
2015Francis PicabiaGalerie Andrea Caratsch, Zurich Solo
2015Francis Picabia: GemäldeGalerie Michael Haas, BerlinSolo
2015Argos PanoptesCentro de las Artes, Monterrey, NL Group
2015Teoría del duendeCentro Federico García Lorca, Granada Group
2015DecadesWoodward Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2015Past and PresentFrancis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York City, NY Group
2015le mot et la choseGalerie Natalie Seroussi, Paris Group
2015Disegni del NovecentoGalleria Benappi, Turin Group
2015In PartFondazione Prada, Milan Group
2015Les Clefs d'une passionFondation Louis Vuitton, Paris Group
2015Image SearchHannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Group
2014DokoupilGalerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich Group
2014Zurück in die ZukunftKunsthalle Krems, Krems Group
2014Paper I CartróGalería Kewenig, Palma de Mallorca Group
2014ConfrontationGalerie Le Minotaure, Paris Group
2014The Age Of Small ThingsDODGEgallery, New York City, NY Group
2013théâtre du mondeLa Maison Rouge, Paris Group
2013Middle Gate Geel '13Various Locations in Geel, Geel Group
2013Café DollyJ.F. Willumsens Museum, Frederikssund Group
2013Salon der AngstMuseumsquartier, Vienna Group
2013AbstraktGalerie Michael Haas, Berlin Group
2013Les Trois GrâcesGalerie Chantal Crousel, Paris Group
2013All You Need IS LOVEMori Art Museum, Tokyo Group
2013Catch as Catch CanLocks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA Group
2012Francis Picabia RetrospectiveKunsthalle Krems, Krems Solo
2012Rumba & baba au rhumGalerie Laurent Godin, Paris Group
2012Metamorphosis: The Transformation of BeingAll Visual Arts, London Group
2012Encounters with the 1930sMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid Group
2012The SupersurrealismModerna Museet Malmö, Malmö Group
2012Luxe : Mode D'emploiPassage de Retz, Paris Group
2012KamaramaGalerie De Zwarte Panter, Antwerp Group
2012#flecken–Stains–TachesLage Egal, Berlin Group
2012Micro ManiaGagosian Gallery, Paris Group
2012The Avant-garde. From Picasso To PollockPeggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Group
2011FRANCIS PICABIA: LATE PAINTINGSMichael Werner Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2011Francis Picabia: DessinateurGalerie 1900-2000, Paris Solo
2011Portraits : Cabinet De CuriositÉsGalerie Sébastien Bertrand, Geneva Group
2011Happy Holidays! Drawings!Alex Zachary Peter Currie, New York City, NY Group
2011Klassische ModerneGalerie Knoell, Basel Group
2011Surrealismus in ParisFondation Beyeler, Riehen Group
2011From Classical To ContemporaryGalerie Miro, Prague Group
2011PossessionGentili Apri, Berlin Group
2011PointillismArtvera's, Geneva Group
2011Zettels TraumVon der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal Group
2011MonanismMuseum of Old and New Art, Hobart, TAS Group
2011Au Pied du MurMehdi Chouakri, Berlin Group
2011Stock ExhibitionWaddington Custot Galleries, London Group
2010De Dürer à Jan Fabre. Chefs-d’œuvreMusée d'Ixelles, Brussels Group
2010ConcrètementArt Attitude Hervé Bize, Nancy Group
2010Transzendenz Inc.Autocenter, Berlin Group
2010Sin título, 2004-2010Galería Kewenig, Palma de Mallorca Group
2010Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New WorldTate Modern, London Group
2009Francis Picabia: Moteur à toutes tendancesGalerie Henze & Ketterer, WichtrachSolo
2008Francis Picabia: Dessins pour litteratureGalerie 1900-2000, Paris Solo
2007Francis Picabia: Pintures I DibuixosGalería Kewenig, Palma de Mallorca Solo
2006Francis Picabia: The NudesHauser & Wirth, London Solo
2006Picabia ZeichnungenMichael Werner Kunsthandel, Cologne Solo
2005Francis Picabia: A Selection of Works on Paper, 1903–1951Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo
2004Francis PicabiaCamden Arts Centre, London Solo
2000Francis Picabia: Late WorksMichael Werner Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1999Francis Picabia: PaintingGalleri Bo Bjerggaard, Copenhagen Solo
1998Francis PicabiaMuseum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam Solo
1997Francis Picabia: das SpätwerkDeichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg Solo
1996Francis Picabia: Centre PompidouMusée National d´Art Moderne, Paris Solo
1995Francis Picabia. Máquinas y españolasFundación Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona Solo
1994Francis Picabia: Bilder und Arbeiten auf Papier 1924–1951Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich Solo
1993Francis PicabiaGalerie Ronny van de Velde, Antwerp Solo
1991Picabia et la Côte d'AzurMusee d´Art Moderne et d`Art Contemporain Nice, Nice Solo
1989Francis PicabiaKent Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1988Picabia: 1879-1953Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland Solo
1987Francis Picabia: RainbowGalerie 1900-2000, Paris Solo
1984Francis PicabiaModerna Museet, Stockholm Solo
1984Francis PicabiaKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
1983Francis PicabiaKunsthalle Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf Solo
1983Francis PicabiaMary Boone Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1982Francis PicabiaRichard Gray Gallery, Chicago, IL Solo
1980Schuldt: Francis PicabiaGalerie Fred Jahn, Munich Solo
1980Schuldt: Francis PicabiaGalerie Neuendorf, Hamburg Solo
1980Schuldt: Francis PicabiaGalerie Springer, Berlin Solo
1980Schuldt: Francis PicabiaMichael Werner Kunsthandel, Cologne Solo
1972Francis PicabiaGalleria Schwarz, Milan Solo
1971Francis PicabiaThe Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI Solo
1971Francis PicabiaArt Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON Solo
1971Francis PicabiaCincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH Solo
1970Francis PicabiaSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, NY Solo
1968Picabia: watercolours 1917-1919Hanover Gallery, London Solo
1967Francis PicabiaStedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven Solo
1967PicabiaMuseum Morsbroich, Leverkusen Solo
1964Francis PicabiaGalleria Schwarz, Milan Solo
1964Francis PicabiaInstitute of Contemporary Arts, London Solo
1962Francis PicabiaKunsthalle Bern, Bern Solo
1962PicabiaMusée Cantini, Marseille Solo
1950Francis PicabiaRose Fried Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1938Francis PicabiaGalerie de Beaune, Paris Solo
1937Francis Picabia: peintures Dada, paysages récentsGalerie de Beaune, Paris Solo
1936Francis PicabiaGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Solo
1936Paintings by Francis PicabiaArts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo
1934Recent paintings by Francis PicabiaValentine Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1934Francis PicabiaGalerie Vignon, Paris Solo
1933Francis PicabiaGalerie Vignon, Paris Solo
1931Francis PicabiaGalerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris Solo
1930Francis Picabia: Trente ans de PeintureGalerie de L'Effort Moderne, Paris Solo
1929Watercolor Drawings by Francis PicabiaArts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo
1928PicabiaThe Intimate Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1922Francis PicabiaGalerie Dalmau, Barcelona Solo
1915Recent paintings by Francis Picabia291 Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1913Exhibition of New York studies by Francis Picabia291 Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1909Fableaux par F. PicabiaGalerie Georges Petit, Paris Solo