A hot summer for Picabia

On 04 July 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

Picabia played with the effects of sunlight, revisited modernity and showed evidence of his freedom as a painter with two dissimilar works.

Francis Picabia (1879-1953), Les Châtaigniers à Munot, effet de soleil (The Chestnut Trees at Munot, Effect of Sunlight), 1907, oil on original canvas, 73 x 92 cm.
Result: €314, 600

As part of last summer’s "Picasso Mediterranée" event, the Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence imagined a confrontation between Francis Picabia and the Malaga-born painter. Critics hailed the show, which highlighted, in addition to many similarities between two leading 20th-century figures, Picabia’s modernity. Picabia indeed tasted the same freedom as his contemporary and a break with the very idea of style marked his career. The two works hung here bear witness to this. Les Châtaigniers à Munot, effet de soleil (The Chestnut Trees at Munot, Effect of Sunlight), painted in 1907 in a postimpressionist vein, and Le Nu de face (Nude Seen from the Front), a 1940s work with a whiff of liberation echoing the inter-war period’s photographic avant-garde, have little in common, except perhaps an impression of heat and summer. Critics long dismissed these nudes as kitsch. Today, they are seen in a different light and as being anchored in a new modernity. The landscape fetched €314,600, the woman, proud of her curves and sensuality with no false modesty, €390,000. A black ink drawing called Hyper poésie (Hyper-Poetry, 21 x 21 cm) sold for €23,400, recalling that Picabia was the co-founder of French Dadaism.

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