Francis Picabia—The Most Important Artist You’ve Barely Heard Of

THE DAILY PIC: In MoMA's Picabia retrospective, he comes off as stranger and more daring than all the other moderns.

THE DAILY PIC (#1704): The most challenging, important show now in New York is the Francis Picabia retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. It is so profoundly, disconcertingly strange that it makes all the other Dada gestures of the earlier 20th century—almost all of modern art—seem tame and respectable. I’ll be writing a few times about the show over coming weeks, but I think this 1924 image, from Picabia’s staging of his ballet called Relache, stands for the rest of his art: Instead of throwing light onto the dancers, Picabia put a field of lights at the back of the stage, blinding the audience instead of helping them see—one critic warned visitors to bring dark glasses. That uncompromising refusal of clarity lies behind everything Picabia did. (Dansmuseet—Museum Rolf de Mare Stockholm)

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