“Our heads are round so our thoughts can change direction” Picabia
To mark 100 years since the birth of the Dada movement in Zurich, a large-scale retrospective explores the work of the hitherto under-rated artist Francis Picabia (1879-1953). With some 200 exhibits, the presentation – which is part of the Zurich Festival – examines Picabia’s entire career, from his early successes as an Impressionist painter and his crucial contribution to both Dada and the history of modern art.
IMPRESSIONIST, DADAIST, FIGURATIVE AND ABSTRACT
Raised in an affluent household, Francis Picabia studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from the age of 17. He successfully sold his paintings in the Impressionist style, but soon began to find them too decorative. In 1913 he travelled to New York, where he attended the legendary Armory Show and also came into contact with the influential gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, who staged a solo exhibition of his work that same year. It was during this period that Picabia created his largest paintings, which incorporated Cubist elements. Unlike with the Cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, however, these canvases mix joyous colour experimentation with analysis of moving forms in space.
LOVE OF LANGUAGE AND PRINTED MATTER, SUPPORT FOR TZARA
Picabia did not return to Europe until after the First World War. As a result he was not in Zurich when Dada was born on 5 February 1916; but his close friendship with Tristan Tzara, one of the movement’s founders, soon made him one of Tzara’s supporters and most important financial backers. In Barcelona in January 1917 he founded the Dada review ‘391’, nineteen issues of which were published before it closed in 1924. The project saw the emergence of another of Picabia’s passions: the printed object as artistic format in its own right, and language in prose and poetry. Throughout his life Picabia published remarkably innovative aphorisms, manifestos, essays and illustrated texts. Between 1915 and 1920, during his Dadaist phase, he produced the ‘mechanomorphic’ pictures that are among his most famous series of works. Owing to internal disagreements, however, Picabia officially parted company with the Dada group in 1921.
Source: Kunsthause museum
Read more: http://www.kunsthaus.ch/fileadmin/templates/kunsthaus/pdf/medienmitteilungen/2016/pm_picabia_e.pdf