Francis Picabia (1879-1953)
Francis Picabia was born to a prominent family in Paris, France. He was fortunate to be financially independent and was able to begin his career as an artist early. He would become an important contributor to the Dada Movement in France and the United States. By the age of fifteen, Picabia began studying under Fernand Cormon whom had also taught artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Émile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at his academy known as the Atelier Cormon. He continued his studies at Ecole des Beaux-Arts and The École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and like most artists in that era focused on Impressionism. He continued to paint in this style until around 1908.
In 1909, Francis Picabia met and married Gabrielle Buffet and became affiliated with the cubist artists and the Section d’Or. He became close friends with artists Marcel Duchamp and Guillaume Apollinaire. Picabia traveled to New York in 1913 and participated in the Armory Show where he showed his new abstract works. He loved the New York art scene of the day. During his Dada period Picabia’s popularity soared. But his popularity came with a price, and alcohol and drugs caused his health to deteriorate.
By the early 1920’s, Francis Picabia completely broke away from the Dada movement, even denouncing it and began moving towards Surrealism. By the late 1940’s, he had returned to abstract art and poetry writing. Picabia passed away in his hometown of Paris in 1953 at the age of sixty-four.
His art is included in collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and many others.