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Modern Art Rebel

January 12, 2017
Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction

Some artists defy easy categorisation, producing eclectic work that leaves critics guessing. Avant-garde French talent Francis Picabia (1879-1953) left his mark on the modern art world, but did so in a genre-hopping, elusive style that means his name isn’t as widely known as it should be. Righting that wrong, NYC’s MoMA is putting on a major retrospective of his curious creativity.

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is not only the best art show title we’ve heard for a while, but also a comprehensive survey of Picabia’s audacious, irreverent, and hugely influential work across many mediums. It’s also the first exhibition in the United States to chart his entire career.

Dubbed a Dadaist, as Picabia was a leader of the C.20th Dada movement, he dabbled in Cubism, Surrealism and did quirky drawings of machines. Yet the same artist also created after-the-fact Impressionist works, was a pioneering abstract painter (cue radical, reductive dot pieces), and even made photo-based pin-up nudes in the Forties. Add to that rich mix poetry, writing, typography, performance and film, and you’ve got ground-breaking stylistic diversity.

Expect the unexpected, with more than 200 works on show, including 125 paintings, works on paper, periodicals, printed matter and film, which should surprise even longtime Picabia connoisseurs. Colour fiends will love the exhibition’s Farrow & Ball paint backdrops too, ideal for sneaky interiors inspiration.

Until 19 Mar, 2017.

The Museum of Modern Art / 11 W 53rd St / Midtown / +1 212 708 9400 / 10.30am-5.30pm Mon-Thu & Sat-Sun, till 8pm Fri / moma.org

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