Francis Picabia France
1-22-1879 Paris, FRA - 11-30-1953 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
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Financially independent, Picabia studied under Fernand Cormon and others at the École des Arts Decoratifs in the late 1890s. In 1894, Picabia financed his stamp collection by copying a collection of Spanish paintings that belonged to his father, switching the originals for the copies, without his father's knowledge, and selling the original.
His first solo show was held at the Galerie Haussmann, Paris, in 1905. From 1908, elements of Fauvism as well as Cubism and other forms of abstraction appeared in his oil painting. Then, influenced by Henri Matisse, Fauvism on one hand and by Cubism of Juan Gris and Picasso on the other, he tried to combine both movements and created bright-colored Cubists pictures unlike the somber monotone paintings of Cubism founders.
Picabia became a friend of Duchamp and associated with the Puteaux group in 1911. He participated in the 1913 Armory Show, showed his abstract oil paintings in New York on this occasion and frequenting avant-garde circles. During his second stay in NY in 1915, together with Marcel Duchamp and painters of American Avant-garde, they formed the NY society of Dadaists.
Leaving away the geometrical abstractions, Picabia started a series of compositions, in which colored copies of technical drawings suddenly obtained shapes of human figures. These "mechanomorphs" full of humor, teasing Dadaist sarcasm, demonstrate the paradox of visual perception, which could find an image in an abstract technical drawing. In the same year he went to the USA once more and there published further numbers of his periodical assisted by Marcel Duchamp.
In 1927 Picabia's period of so-called 'transparencies' started. The artist was looking for alternative methods to depict three-dimensional space without traditional rules of perspective. He developed this approach in his works, in which flat images of different scales overlay and interlace to show an object from a variety of viewpoints. When an eye accommodates to intersections of different planes and foreshortening, an illusion of three-dimensional space really appears.
In 1934, the transparent images were forced out by heavy brutal shapes of pseudo classicism. During World War II Picabia lived in Switzerland and in the south of France. By the end of World War II, Picabia returned to Paris. He resumed painting in an abstract style and writing poetry. Picabia's art is appreciated by those who like inventiveness, adaptability, absurdist humor and disconcerting changes of style.
In 2003, a Picabia painting once owned by André Breton sold for US$1.6 million.
Art Movement: Cubism
Influences: Fernand Cormon, Alfred Sisley
Traveled: France, Switzerland, Spain, USA
Influenced: David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Sigmar Polke, Francesco Clemente