• portrait Francis Picabia
    Francis Picabia was born in Paris (1879). Picabia was intent on painting, and in 1895 he entered the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs. His early paintings were of Spanish figures and landscapes. By 1902 he had come under the influence of the post-impressionist painters Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro and painted in this style until 1909. From 1909, to 1912 he experimented with various combinations of cubism, fauvism, and orphism. In 1913, due to his independent financial means, Picabia was able to accompany his works to the Armory Show in New York, where his abstract paintings and radical aesthetic theories gained him considerable attention.
  • After World war I, Picabia went back and forth across the Atlantic, spending two significant periods of time in New York, first from 1915 to 1916 and again for the greater part of 1917, interrupted by a stay in Barcelona. During his stay in Barcelona in early 1917, Picabia published the first issue of his magazine 391, named in homage to Stieglitz' 291. Over the next seven years, another eighteen issues of 391 appeared, published wherever Picabia lived at the moment, and often in collaboration with artists in New York, Zurich, and Paris.
  • After a stay of three weeks in Zurich in early 1919, during which he collaborated on the publication of Dada 4–5 with Tristan Tzara and edited the eighth number of 391, Picabia returned to Paris to become one of Dada's leading protagonists. His mechanomorphic paintings, exhibited at the Salon des indépendants in January 1920, established a visual identity for Dada art in Paris and set a precedent for the public controversy and agitation that would accompany nearly all of Picabia's Dada activities. Even before L'Oeil cacodylate, a collaborative work consisting of the signatures and graffiti of over fifty of Picabia's friends and fellow artists, was exhibited at the 1921 Salon d'automne, rumors had circulated about the explosiveness of Picabia's intended submissions.
  • During 1921 and 1922, Picabia gradually became disenchanted with the feuds taking place among the Paris dadaists (largely the consequence of disagreements between Tzara and André Breton) and published a series of renunciations of the movement, devoting a special issue of 391 to insulting those who sustained it. In the twenties and thirties, with the exception of one group of abstract works, he painted figurative pictures in many different styles. Francis Picabia died in 1953 in Paris.
    More extensive is Amanda L. Hockensmith, 'Francis Picabia', published in Leah Dickerman (ed.), Dada. Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (National Gallery of Art : Washington DC 2005) 479-480 and online available at Dada biographies: Francis Picabia, an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. The article is translated in French and published in Dada / Catalogue publié sous la direction de Laurent Le Bon (Éditions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005).
    Francis Picabia, 1922, photograph by Alfred Stieglitz [National Gallery of Art, Washington DC]
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