Francis Picabia was a French artist who created artworks in a variety of media throughout his life, including writing, typography, and painting – as shown in the above photo. Picabia began painting around the time that Impressionism was becoming popular in France, and later moved into experimentation with Cubism and Surrealism. He is perhaps best known as a member of the Dada art movement of the 1910’s and 1920’s.
Picabia’s studio here, like a lot of the studios of that era, looks quite cozy and incorporates a lot more dark hardwoods than most contemporary studio spaces today. It reminds me of the studios of Jeanne Mammen, or Richard Pousette-Dart.
Picabia’s studio is also suitably messy – on the floor are discarded paint tubes and what look like they could be tins that the artist was using as palettes. I also can’t help but wonder if the dish on the floor is filled with cigarettes.
The studio is packed with easels and canvases, and one can picture Picabia dancing between paintings, adding a bit of detail to each before moving on. While he was associated with the Dada movement in the early 20th century, Picabia’s works were largely abstract. Later in his career, he began creating figurative works again – the works in this photograph looks perhaps like slightly abstracted landscapes, leading me to think that this photo was taken after Picabia had been making art for some time.
Many of Picabia’s works are now in the permanent collections of art institutions including MoMA, the Guggenheim, The Tate London and the Art Institute of Chicago. He is known as a major influence for many later artists, including Francesco Climente. Picabia died in 1953.