Press Release
FRANCIS PICABIA: WORKS ON PAPER 1901-1951
11 January 2006
UPPER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK
PDF Version v

Michael Werner Gallery is pleased to announce a major exhibition of works on paper by Francis Picabia(1879-1953). A seminal figure in the twentieth century, Francis Picabia consistently embraced diversity and change in a career that spanned over seven decades. Drawing from a variety of sources throughout his life including early Dada movement inspirations to his kitsch portraits of women in the 1930s and 40s, he intentionally escaped being identified as part of any one artistic trend of his time.

Picabia was born in Paris, of a Spanish father and French mother. Formally trained at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 1895 to 1897, he began to paint in an Impressionist manner in the winter of 1902'03, exhibiting works in this style at the Salon d'Automne and the Salon des Indépendants in 1903. His first solo show was held at the Galerie Haussmann, Paris, in 1905.

In 1911 he joined the Puteaux Group, which met at the studio of Jacques Villon in the village of Puteaux. It was there that he became friends with Marcel Duchamp and other founding members of the Dada movement. In 1913, Picabia and Duchamp were included in the renowned Armory show in New York and took active part in avant-garde movements there, introducing modern art to America. Two years later, Picabia had his first solo exhibition in America at Alfred Steiglitz's gallery in New York, '291' Picabia later titled his first volume of poetry 391, modeled after Stieglitz's own periodical 291. For the next few years, Picabia remained involved with the Dadaists in Zurich and Paris, creating scandals at the Salon d'Automne, but after developing an interest in surrealism, ultimately denounced Dada in 1921 for no longer being 'new' He changed his style again in 1925 to figurative art, when he relocated to the French Riveria.

His departure from the Dada movement marked a definitive turning point in his career, a move which evoked harsh criticism and was seen as a deliberate betrayal of both his own work and the ideals he had shared with his former Dada colleagues. Picabia's lifelong resistance to adhere to any one style or set of ideas in his art and his lifestyle was characteristic of his enthusiasm. As Dave Hickey writes in the catalog essay, 'He quite literally left no stone unturned, no rule unbroken, no boundary un-breached and, no 'style' unchallenged' It was this inimitable propensity to respond to change as seen in his diverse imagery, subject matter and approach that has, in retrospect, deemed Picabia the very prototype of modernists and secured his place as one the most influential and important artists of the twentieth century.

This exhibition at Michael Werner Gallery, previously on view at the Arts Club in Chicago, is the first major survey of works on paper by Picabia. A comprehensive group of over eighty drawings, it will focus on Picabia's various stylistic movements including works from his transparency series, his portraits of Spanish women, early Dada drawings and his 1940s photo-based works.

The exhibition will be on view from 1 February through 15 April 2006. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 AM until 6 PM.

A full-color catalog with a text by Dave Hickey will accompany the exhibition.

For further information, please contact the gallery.