Look at the back side if you really want to know them: the countdown for Francis Picabia at the MoMA and Kunsthaus Zurich has started


The great epiphany of Francis Picabia‘s fortune after his death will take place in 2016, when both the New York’s MoMA and the Kunsthaus Zurich will dedicate to him a comprehensive exhibition of his works. Their curators and art historians are already at work, visiting archives and collections in Europe and US and asking the best pieces for these double shows that will certainly become seminal ones.


Among the pieces representing the career of this extraordinary, powerful and intractable creative mind there will be the drawing that we are able to publish here recto and verso, thanks to the kind availability of its owner, Lucien Bilinelli. It is titled “Les îles Marquises” and was executed between 1916 and 1917, that is to say before the artist’s last trip to New York (spring 1917) and his encounter with the writer Germaine Everling, who will become his devoted companion. During his thirties, Picabia suffered of dropsy and tachycardia, but at that this drawing was made his health was so deteriorated that in 1918 he went to Switzerland for a period of convalescence, during which his doctors forbade him to paint. So he wrote feverishly, giving birth to works such as the “Poèmes et dessins de la fille née sans mère”, “L’athlète des pompes funèbres” and the “Râteliers platoniques”.


On the recto, the references to the creation of a living being are evident. The expected “oeuf femelle” is linked to the mechanism drawn at the left side of the sheet, probably addressing the female physiology as well as the artist’s relation with his wife Dadaist Gabrielle Buffet, whom he was living in Switzerland with. The meaning of the title is less clear, but the word “correspondance” is probably the key for a correct interpretation. On the verso there is a sort of map of people and places involved with the property in the drawing. Among them there is the name and the address of the Italian artist Enrico Baj, who was probably the first one to own this hands.

July 26, 2015