Avantgardist in art and life, who avoided classicism, but afterwards has become the classics himself – Francis Picabia – the temperamental Spanish-French artist from Paris. We would like to dedicate this article to his multi-faceted art and bright individuality.
Francis Picabia was born on January 22 in 1879 in Paris. In the late 1890’s he studied painting at the École des Arts Decoratifs. His first works were practically the contrast to those, which Picabia has become famous with. That was impressionism. Later on Francis Picabia had become interested in fauvism, whose brightness and passion he brought from his travel around Spain. The artist always flounced from one style to another, changed the genres, he was flexible to changes and was ready to be up-to-date. Perhaps, it was a kind of development. The next step was cubism and abstractionism. Here Picabia has opened his potential more and precipitously moved to the side of Dadaism.
DADA and Francis Picabia are considered to be synonyms. With the names of Picabia and Duchamp is connected the emerging of Dadaism. This genre gave so much to the artist`s creation and vice versa. His most popular works are impregnated with the charm of destructive, absurd and naughty Dadaism.
In the 1920’s Francis Picabia was thrown to surrealism. In this period he took part in the creation of the film “Entr'acte” of the stage director Rene Clair. The film was based on the ballet “Relâche”, whose scenario was written by no other than Picabia. He contributed much to the film itself. In the pic there are also much fromDadaism, like in his poetries and articles. Surrealistic works were created by the artist till the 1930’s and then the new turnover.
The series of works of surrealistic period is called “Transparencies”. It`s notable for its way of making – the artist creates the paintings on the principle of collage – it means that he laid one object to another, but with a brush and colors. The figures came out transparent, we can see another silhouettes through them. The favorite characters of many artists, writers and musicians are here in Francis Picabia`s canvases: “Hera”, “Salome”, “Adam and Eve”, “Sphinx”. Those figures, which are laid one to another don`t interrupt, but on the contrary – complement each other, the image tells the story to a spectator, it doesn`t freeze, it`s agile and madly emphatic. Until 30’s Picabia created in surrealistic style and later moved to so called “pseudo-classicism” and kitsch.
“The Spanish Revolution” is a significant painting of this period. Slightly rude circuit and coloures and half-funny – half-freaky characters are something absolutely different from the artist`s earlier oeuvre. In some details we can notice the former transparency, but still, those flesh surrealistic plexuses vanished. At the same time Picabia painted the portraits: “Portrait of a Woman”, “Acrobats”, “Toreador”, “Poodle” and other.
In 40’s the artist has become a little bit tired of flouncing from one style to another, moreover, the fame that fell down to him let Picabia fully get satisfaction from the glory and prosperity. That time he created the paintings by the order, but there was no that very manner, which fans love Francis Picabia for. Only in the latest abstract works we can recognize the feature of the genius avant-gardist.
Eccentric and impulsive Francis Picabia hadn`t stop at creating only canvases. The fact that the artist was also the author of the ballet plot called “Relâche” (that means “the performance has canceled”) is surprising and worth delight. This ballet demonstrates the aesthetics of Dadaism. Based on the ballet the religious French filmmaker Rene Clair shot the experimental film “Entr'acte” in 1924.
Francis Picabia expressed himself as the stunning production designer, his ideas and creative vision came together wonderfully with the music of the bright original composer Erik Satie, whose compositions are not less artistic, than the pictorial art itself. To give the name “Relâche” to the spectacle meant to attract Dadaists and another figures of avant-garde to its setting-up. And here was the result: the work on the spectacle and film has attracted both of them, and among these persons was none other than Marcel Duchamp.
As it used to expect, the plot of the film was very extraordinary, if not to say that the plot was absent at all, as we`re speaking about Dadaism. There is a scene of the dancer`s funeral, who then would get up from the coffin and turn up to be the bearded ballerina, dancing pirouettes, and the scene of the chess party, full of absurd, between the chess adorer Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. All of these is spiced with mad shooting of surrounding views and different objects, so that the spectator have a dizziness, but in a one mix it looks very showy and, of course, didn`t lose comicality. Picabia and Satie were themselves shot in this movie.
“Entr'acte” was a zest both for Rene Clair`s and Francis Picabia`s art, and in general for cinematograph. The movie was successful, even today art connoisseurs get familiar with it, like with the phenomenon of the world of cinema and French creative society of the early 1900’s. And we thank the maestro heartily and esteem him much.