“Francis Picabia: Late Paintings,”
at Michael Werner Gallery, New York.
April 12–June 10, 2000

Francis Picabia (1879–1953) embodied the spirit of eclecticism. An inconstant, philandering lover of art, he had no respect or patience for the integrity of artistic styles or for the ideologies that at times generate them. During his first thirty years as a painter, he moved restlessly from impressionism and postimpressionism through fauvism, orphism, cubism, dada, and surrealism, after which he skidded off on an idiosyncratic course that briefly visited many styles without settling into any one of them. Today when we think of him, it is the object portraits we tend to recall, those dadaist mechanical drawings, based largely on American advertisements, from the period 1915 to 1917. The late paintings, from the last thirty years of Picabia’s life, which are on view in a grand, confusing, though always...

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