303
303

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE FRENCH COLLECTION

Francis Picabia
BROYEUR
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 588,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
303

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE FRENCH COLLECTION

Francis Picabia
BROYEUR
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 588,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Francis Picabia
1879 - 1953
BROYEUR
Signed Francis Picabia (lower right); titled (upper left)
Watercolor, brush and ink and pencil on paper laid down on card
23 1/2 by 28 5/8 in.
59.8 by 72.7 cm
Executed in 1922. 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Mona Lisa, Paris (acquired by 1962)
Marcel Duhamel, London (acquired by 1972)
Private Collection (and sold: Sotheby's, London, December 1, 1976, lot 198)
Fondazione Thyssen-Bornemisza, Lugano (acquired at the above sale and sold: Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg, London, June 24, 2002, lot 15)
Helly Nahmad Gallery, London
Claude Berri, Paris (acquired from the above)
Thence by descent

Exhibited

Barcelona, Galería Dalmau, Picabia, 1922, no. 13
Paris, Galerie Mona Lisa, Francis Picabia vu en transparence, 1961, no. 16a
Marseilles, Musée Cantini, Picabia, 1962, no. 40, illustrated in the catalogue
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Der Surrealismus 1922-1942, 1972, no. 378, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Musée des arts décoratifs, Le Surréalisme 1922-1942, 1972, no. 363, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Grand Palais, Francis Picabia, 1976, no. 105, illustrated in the catalogue 
Nîmes, Musée des beaux-arts, Francis Picabia, 1986, no. 37, illustrated in the catalogue
Luxembourg, Villa Vaubon; Munich, Haus der Kunst & Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Wege aus Abstraktion: 80 Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1988-89, no. 59, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Valencia, IVAM Centro Julio Gonzalez; Barcelona, Fundació Antoni Tàpies & Paris, Musée nationale d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Maquinas y Españolas, 1995-96, no. 7, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Literature

Maria Llüisa Boras, Picabia, Barcelona, 1985, no. 293, illustrated in color p. 260
Christopher Green, The European Avant-Gardes, Art in France and Western Europe 1904-c. 1945, London, 1995, no. 69, illustrated in color p. 364
Arnauld Pierre, "Sources inédites pour l'oeuvre machiniste de Francis Picabia, 1918-1922" in Bulletin de la société de l'histoire de l'art français, Paris, 1992, illustrated pp. 270-71
William A. Camfield, Beverley Calté, Candace Clements, Arnauld Pierre & Pierre CaltéFrancis Picabia, Catalogue Raisonné, 1915-1927, vol. II, New Haven & London, 2016, no. 735, illustrated in color p. 328

Catalogue Note

The early 1920s saw the disintegration of the Dada movement, petering out amidst in-fighting and disaffection. Some chose to follow André Breton towards the formation of the Surrealist movement, while others such Tristan Tzara held on to their principles. In 1921 Picabia stated: “The Dada spirit really only existed between 1913 and 1918... In wishing to prolong it, Dada became closed... Dada, you see, was not serious...and if certain people take it seriously now, it's because it is dead!... One must be a nomad, pass through ideas like one passes through countries and cities” (quoted in Robert Motherwell, ed., The Dada Painters and Poets, London, 1989, p. 201).

Indeed one of the artist’s famous aphorisms was: “If you want to have clean ideas, change them as often as you change your shirts.” Perhaps more than any other artist, Picabia was constantly reflecting upon his work and changing the formal elements of his work to reflect his conceptual interests. Shifting his visual vocabulary toward a “Dada-machinist” aesthetic, Picabia sought to refine his practice in the context of a mechanical aesthetic, reflected the resounding existential and machinist sentiments following World War I.

Broyeur, executed in 1922, belongs to this important group of Dada-mechanical paintings and works on paper composed of non-ideogrammatic forms, often with obscure, non-descriptive titles. We do know that the machine source for Broyeur was a diagram of a "broyeur-concasseur à mâchoires" which was published in La Science et la vie, June-July 1920 (see fig. 1). As explained by Surrealist and Dada scholar Francis N. Naumann, these works represent a “formal connection between the Dada movement and Picabia’s earlier mechanomorphic paintings. The oils and watercolors produced in this period are characterized by a less harshly defined machine aesthetic, with sexual allusions, if any, expressed in only an indirect or enigmatic fashion. The principal subjects of these works were usually drawn from components within the realm of the physical sciences: astronomical charts, electrical symbols, optical experiments, illustrations of wave lengths, magnetic fields, etc. In most cases, these scientific elements are either presented within the context of a non-objective composition, or become the backdrop for a more complex figurative ensemble. Several paintings from this period incorporate circular wave patterns, while others present a field of horizontal or vertical bands, probably derived from a scientific diagram to illustrate diffracted light waves” (Francis N. Naumann in correspondence with Sotheby’s, 2013). The horizontality of the present work suggests a certain mechanical quality while simultaneously speaking to the universality of abstraction practiced by Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy and Piet Mondrian (see fig. 2). Picabia's use of a bold, simplified color palette and geometrical line reflects a rigidity associated with the fascist angst of the period, speaking to the Dadist and the overall European zeitgeist.

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