Francis Picabia - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, France
    Sotheby's, London, Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale, 6 February 2013, lot 354
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Frederikssund, Willumsen Museum, Café Dolly: Picabia, Schnabel, Willumsen, Hybrid Painting, 7 September-30 December 2013
    Ford Lauderdale, Museum of Art, Café Dolly: Picabia, Schnabel, Willumsen, Hybrid Painting, 11 October 2014-15 February 2015

  • Literature

    M. L. Borras, Picabia, Barcelona 1985, p. 530, no. 735 and p.437, pl. 944 (illustrated)
    Café Dolly: Picabia, Schnabel, Willumsen, Hybrid Painting, exh. cat., Willumsen Museum, Frederikssund: Ostfildern, 2013, p. 195 (illustrated)

    This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné by the Comité Picabia with the registration number 3251.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The depiction of the woman has played a significant role in the oeuvre of Francis Picabia. His female figures have been portrayed in several ways, ranging from his distorted illustrations of women in his Monster series of the 1920’s to his later Transparencies series of the 1930s, which took a more classical turn. His portrayal of women often suggest a sensual and erotic reading in order to shock his viewers, and subvert the said notions of the taste present at the time.

    Visage de Femme, 1942 is a captivating example that marks Picabia’s shift in styles. The present lot displays one of his more realistic figurative series of paintings that he began working on during the early 1940s. In this series, the artist drew inspiration from photographs found in fashion magazines, advertisements and postcards which portrayed the women in a 'popular' realist style. The elegant radiance in the female figure captivates the viewer’s attention. Her eyes gaze out at us in a sensual manner, almost asking for the viewer to admire her beauty. This is accentuated by her tilted head which suggests her longing for our attention. The shawl lightly covers her left shoulder, yet makes way revealing her décolleté . Visage de Femme, 1942 radically broke the artistic tradition by bringing the 'kitsch' illustration taken from popular magazines into the realm of fine art, a notion that paved way for many influential artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and the Pop art movement.

  • Artist Biography

    Francis Picabia

    Few members of the 20th Century avant-garde are as paradoxical as Francis Picabia. Though best known today for his work as a Dadaist, his oeuvre is characterized by the many disparate styles he switched embrace over the course of his fifty-year career. He first garnered attention for late Post-Impressionist works done in the style of Paul Signac but later assumed a Cubistic style as he participated in the advent of abstraction. Picabia then developed a more radical aesthetic through his friendships with leading members of the avant-garde like Marcel Duchamp, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Man Ray, creating mechanistic anatomies and Dadaist works that integrate text and refined abstract forms. He flirted next with Surrealism, creating dreamlike strata of layered imagery and later experimented with intentionally garish works based on found photos before rounding out his career by returning to expressions of pure abstraction. The only constant in Picabia’s career was his unwillingness to remain the same. 

    Picabia’s work has been widely celebrated during and after his lifetime with several significant retrospectives, including a landmark 2016 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Picabia’s work is held in the permanent collections of Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Tate, London, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris.  

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Visage de Femme

c. 1942
oil on cardboard
54.9 x 45.7 cm (21 5/8 x 17 7/8 in.)
Signed 'Francis Picabia' on the lower left.

£250,000 - 350,000 ♠ †

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm