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Francis Picabia

/Works and biography

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Very Rare Picture on Earth (Très rare tableau sur la terre), 1915
Oil and metallic paint on board, silver and gold leaf on wood,
125.7 x 97.8 cm, including artist’s painted frame
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 67
© Francis Picabia, by SIAE 2008


In 1915 Francis Picabia abandoned his exploration of abstract form and color to adopt a new machinist idiom that he used until about 1923. Unlike Robert Delaunay or Fernand Léger, who saw the machine as an emblem of a new age, he was attracted to machine shapes for their intrinsic visual and functional qualities. He often used mechanomorphic images humorously as substitutes for human beings. In Very Rare Picture on the Earth a self-generating, almost symmetrical machine is presented frontally, clearly silhouetted against a flat, impassive background, and might be read as the evocation of a sexual event in mechanical terms. This dispassionate view of sex is consonant with the antisentimental attitudes that were to characterize Dada. Not only is Very Rare Picture on the Earth one of Picabia’s earliest mechanomorphic works, but it has been identified as his first collage.

credits: Hangar Design Group