Francis Picabia first draft

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Francis Picabia (*First Draft)
Francis Picabia [1879- 1953] was a very ecliptic Avant-Garde artist and writer, who mostly worked in the close shadows of Marcel Duchamp. The French born artist was most famous for his work in Cubism (starting as early as 1909) and Dadaism but often times created work outside of those movements (Camfield 21). Some of his most famous works included La Source, Udnie, Voilà Haviland (La poésie est comme lui), and La Saint Vierge (The Blessed Virgin).
Picabia was born in Paris on January 22nd, 1879 to Cuban-born Spaniard Francisco Vicente Martinez Picabia and French Native Marie Cecile Davanne (Camfield 1). In his early adulthood Picabia studied at the École des Arts Decoratifs, where other famous artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec studied (“Francis Picabia Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works”). He married Gabrielle Buffet in 1909 (Camfield 3).
Although landscape paintings were what originally caused him his fame, cubism and abstract art were both dominant parts of Picabia’s early art career. He was extremely fascinated with modern and urban art which later translated into an obsession with machines and mechanics. Picabia’s interest in technology within cubism is what eventually led him into Dadaism.
Picabia and Marcel Duchamp are seen as the two true founding fathers of Dadaism (Hopkins 15). In the fall of 1911 Picabia and Duchamp had established a strong relationship after both were involved with an organization known as the Société Normande de Peinture Moderne (Camfield 21). The dynamic duo impacted each other’s works for the rest of their lives and often worked in the same artistic circles. Picabia and Duchamp spread the Dada movement to American when they visited New York City in 1913, and were a part of the Armory Show, among other famous Avant-Garde social circles.
In 1915, in the wake of the American Industrial Revolution, Picabia became obsessed with mechanics and machinery. He loved to draw parallels between human kind and technology.
Picabia, despite not truly being a household name artist, was the “leading spokesperson for the Avant-Garde movement on American soil” (Umland). But beyond New York City, with Dada in particular Picabia really made a significant impact with not only spreading it through Zurich, Barcelona, and Paris but also by being one of the first artists to really test the limits and define what Dadaism was. La Saint Vierge is often seen as the groundbreaking piece of art that really started Dadaism or helped to bring the movement to the public eye (Hopkins 15).
During World War I Picabia sought refuge in Barcelona, Spain, causing yet another chapter in his art career. Outside of Dadaism, Picabia became inspired by “Spanish subjects, Romanesque and Renaissance sources” (“Francis Picabia Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works”), which eventually translated into his works in the 1920s referred to as the Transparencies. The Transparencies were a collection of works “in which outlines of figurative images from ancient Catalan and renaissance art are overlaid with animal, floral and cosmological references” (Francis 243). Also, while working in Barcelona, Picabia worked on and published a magazine called 391, to further spread the Avant-Garde movement.
Picabia’s art career, which lasted around 50 years, was “marked by a consistent inconsistency” (Dupêcher). Because he often struggled with his own identity and beliefs, it showed in his art, which is why we see his dabble in so many different art forms through various passages of his life. Picabia died in 1953, in the same home he was born in in Paris (“Francis Picabia: Biography”).

4 Comments on “Francis Picabia first draft”

  1. A clear, energetic, and well-researched portrait of Picabia. I’ve made suggestions on for cutting out some of the clutter, which may allow you room to add some clarifications. Did he know Loy? Can you give a better sense of what made his art distinctive? I always think of his strange machine-like portraits of people in the avant-garde. Also there seems to be an interesting homosocial subtext about his relationship with Duchamp, which seems more influential than his marriage to Gabrielle. Bean mentions Picabia had mental health issues and divorced Gabrielle, but you don’t mention those things. While the two bios don’t need to repeat the same things, you might want to consult each other and share information!

  2. I see Dr. Chill has already mentioned this, however, I will say it anyway. Since we only recently figured out that our couple is married, I was really intrigued to see what information you found and how it aligns with mine. Most of yours seems to match, however, it appears you have much more specific dates (which I will probably sit down and go over with you this weekend to see if any could be helpful to me). I think it would be cool for us to look closer and see if we can find more information on how their relationship influenced their art, because I know it did, I just have yet to find more information on the specifics (but more books just arrived and an interview so that might help). I’m getting off topic; anyway, I think what you have has some great information, but that you could definitely cut out some and simplify. Additionally, after cutting some of the extra parts, it might help to talk a little more about one or two of his works in more detail, as well as more about his relationships with key figures like Duchamp.

  3. Hi! I enjoyed learning about Picabia 🙂 Your writing is very clear and guided me easily through your piece. I particularly liked your use of quotes in the piece… you chose really effectively! They definitely add to the bio (rather than, as I always get nervous about when quoting, detracting from the narrative voice).
    The one thing I’m left wondering is how he is (or isn’t) connected to Loy. Maybe you could work that in?
    Other than that, I think you could cut a few unnecessary adverbs (“very”, “extremely”, etc), but I really like all the information you included!
    I’d also like to see you work on the intro a little bit… I want to be hooked right away! I found myself becoming more engaged two or three paragraphs in.
    Great job, Leigha! I can’t wait to read the next version.

  4. Leigha! The depth of your research is incredibly thorough and your chronology is really easy to follow: excellent! I’ve seen that some of the comments left by others asks about Loy and, I think I have a suggestion about a way you could incorporate her. After reading your biography, I felt I had learned a lot but, I still was curious about Picabia’s relationship with Loy and also the movements he was involved it. Thus, since he and Loy were both involved with Dadaism, I think it could be cool to do an analysis about how their works exemplify the dada movement and find some overlap between their lives that way, while also exemplifying Picabia’s Dadaism!

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