FRANCIS PICABIA (French / 1879-1973)

Francis Picabia was born on 22 January 1879 in 82 rue des Petits Champs, Paris, and died in the same house on 30 November 1953. This might suggest a life of stasis and predictability, but in fact Francis Picabia led one of the most volatile art careers of his time. He was born François Marie Martinez Picabia, to a French mother and Spanish-Cuban father. The family was wealthy, and Picabia set about spending his inheritance with impressive zeal - he is said to have changed his car 107 times. His early enthusiasm for drawing and his natural talent were recognized in 1894 when, at the age of 16, he had a painting accepted by the Salon des Artistes Français. His family encouraged him to study art, and he entered the atelier of Fernand Cormon at the École des Beaux-Arts, and later also studied in Cormon's private atelier. He additionally studied under Wallet at the École des Arts Décoratifs, and in the Académie Humbert, where fellow-students included Georges Braque and Marie Laurencin. From 1909 when he discovered Cubism, Francis Picabia threw himself into one modernist movement after another - Cubism, Orphism, Dada, Surrealism. Because Picabia was the only member of the Cubist Section d'Or to personally attend the 1913 Armory Show in New York, he became for America the disputatious and controversial figurehead of modernism – and, with his close friend Marcel Duchamp, its agent provocateur. Picabia's international role in relation to Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism has tended to obscure the fact that from 1902-1908 he had a successful early career as a post-Impressionist, working under the influence and direct mentorship of Sisley and Pissarro. During this period, Francis Picabia was taken up by prestigious Paris galleries including Galerie Berthe Weill, Galerie Haussmann, and Galerie Georges Petit. Picabia's art of this period was the subject of a 1908 monograph by Édouard André, Picabia, le peintre et l'aquafortiste. This included 6 of Picabia's rare etchings. Almost all of Picabia's activity as a printmaker was confined to this early period, though there is at least one Cubist drypoint, and some later lithographs. Because this early post-Impressionist phase is so different from Picabia's later work, it has been somewhat disregarded, but no doubt Picabia the post-Impressionist is simply waiting to be rediscovered. See W. A. Camfield, Francis Picabia: His Art, Life and Times (1979).

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Selected prints by FRANCIS PICABIA

Pêcheurs sur les
bords du Loing, c. 1907
Un canal, c. 1907
Barque et maisons
sur la mer, c.1907

View all available prints by FRANCIS PICABIA