Francis Picabia France, 1879-1953
French artist Francis Picabia (b. 1879, Paris, France; d. 1953, Paris, France) was a leading avant-garde artist of the twentieth century who defies categorization. He briefly espoused early twentieth-century movements such as Post-Impressionism and Cubism, before becoming a leading innovator of the Dada and Surrealist circles. His painting practice transformed drastically throughout his career, but leitmotifs imbued with puns, sexual inuendo and dark humor create a consistency throughout his oeuvre. Picabia wrote poetry, criticism, organized exhibitions and edited artistic journals. In 1915, he travelled to the United States and met with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray to promote Dada, only to renounce it in 1921 for its inability to shock. Picabia went on to produce innovative series such as his ‘monsters’ (1924-1927), ‘transparencies’ (1927-1930) photo-based erotic nudes (1940-1943) and lastly, his groundbreaking exercises in abstraction (1946-1952). His vanguard position in the course of twentieth century painting and art-making reverberates through the work of today’s most celebrated artists.