Francis Picabia's Prescient, Painterly Promiscuousness

Francis Picabia, Portrait d’un couple (Portrait of a Couple), 1942–43, oil on board, 41 5/8 × 30 1/2 inches (The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase, 2000. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo courtesy The Muse
Francis Picabia, Portrait d’un couple (Portrait of a Couple), 1942–43, oil on board, 41 5/8 × 30 1/2 inches (The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase, 2000. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo courtesy The Muse

Dennis Kardon reviews Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on view through March 19, 2017.

Kardon writes: Kardon writes: "Picabia, a pioneering modernist, has long been known as an early cubist and a leader of the anarchic Dada movement, while his later work has gone mostly ignored. But the cultural transition from the monolithic austerity of modernism to postmodernism’s pluralistic deconstruction of meaning altered the way we view artists’ careers. Our idea of the artistic self has expanded from the fixed brand of a signature style to a concept of branching decisions made by an evolving personality in a fluid cultural context. Generations of painters as diverse as Sigmar Polke and Nicole Eisenman seem to have absorbed Picabia’s example that it’s possible for an artist to reject consistency of style without losing coherence of thinking."