”A free spirit takes liberties even with liberty itself.”- FRancis PIcabia
Charmingly brazen or brazenly charming? – is a question that arises in the aftermath of the first full scale retrospective of Francis Picabia’s work at Moma. Although regarded as the Father of Dada, Picabia is perhaps mostly known as the notorious playboy with an exuberant irreverence for contemporary notions of morality or law, who’s puns on any subject of culture or art were in all likelihood to resemble a coarse comedy.
A capricious provocateur and restless one at heart, Picabia has neatly avoided every canonical style. Oscillating between a myriad of media, Picabia’s stylistic incoherence might perhaps be attributed to his innate skeptical nature and his refusal to be grouped and thus limited, as the title of Moma’s exhibition fitfully acknowledges.
By exhibiting clear disdain for the pre-conceived, Picabia’s shapeshifting capabilities have challenged accustomed narratives and even raised travesty as the ideal par excellence. The latter has earned him a stellar status and while challenging the notions of good and bad taste his work has attained a stamp of promiscuous and vulgar, audacious and incoherent, albeit undoubtedly influential. Nihilism and/or self-indulgence come to mind, as Picabia executed even the most frivolous of ideas on impulse with wantonly disregard for any directives. In retrospective, Francis Picabia can be regarded as the forefather of modern and contemporary styles, unawaringly dilly-dallying the outskirts of conceptual art and modernism, while exhibiting charmingly blatant contempt at its’ full capacity.
”Good taste is as tiring as good company.”- FRanis PicaBia