Francis Picabia

Very Rare Picture on Earth


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.

On view

Artist Francis Picabia
Original Title Très rare tableau sur la terre
Date 1915
Medium Oil and metallic paint on board, silver and gold leaf on wood
Dimensions 125.7 x 97.8 cm, including artist’s painted frame
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 67
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

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On view

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Not on View