Francis Picabia

(1878 - 1953)

Francis Picabia was born in Paris to parents of Spanish descent. He studied there, first at the Ecole des Arts Decoratif and subsequently at the Ecole des Beaux Arts 1897-1901 under F. Cormon.

Picabia was precociously talented, he first exhibited in 1896 and his early works show the influence of the Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley (1839-1899). In 1903 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants.

Paris was a hotbed of revolutionary new ideas in the early years of the 20th century, and in 1911 Picabia participated in the ‘Section d’Or’ a movement led by and including Jacques Villon, Apollinaire, Gleizes, La Fresnaye and Leger. In 1915 Picabia visited New York and met with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray exhibiting with them at the 219 Gallery, a movement that was to become known as Dada.

Continuing his involvement with the Dadaists, Picabia visited Barcelona in 1916 and remained a Dadaist over the ensuing 9 years, breaking from them to join, the Surrealists in 1921.

Although he painted in a representational style for a period, Picabia, fired with enthusiasm for a radical new movement turned to Abstraction in 1945, holding a one man exhibition in Paris in 1949.

A radical artist, Picabia commencing with Post-Impressionism was involved with the major innovative artistic movements during his lifetime, he died in Paris in 1953.

His works can be found in museums in: Vienna; Ottawa; London; The Hague; Rotterdam; Edinburgh; Chicago; New York and Washington.

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Bibliography: E. Bénézit “Dictionnaire des Artistes”