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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE PARISIAN COLLECTION

Francis Picabia
ADAM ET EVE
JUMP TO LOT
7

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE PARISIAN COLLECTION

Francis Picabia
ADAM ET EVE
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modernités

|
Paris

Francis Picabia
1879 - 1953
ADAM ET EVE
signed Picabia and dated 1911 (upper centre)
oil on canvas
100,4 x 81,2 cm; 39 1/2 x 32 in.
Painted in 1911.
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Provenance

Kleinman collection, Paris
Galerie Berri, Paris
Simone Collinet (Galerie Furstenberg), Paris (1962-1979)
Thence by descent to the present owner (since 1980)

Exhibited

Rouen, Société Normande de Peinture Moderne, IIe exposition, 1911, no. 88 (probably)
Paris, Galerie Furstenberg, Exposition Picabia, 1956, no. 3
London, The Matthiesen Gallery, Francis Picabia 1879-1953, 1959, no. 15
Paris, Galerie Mona Lisa, Picabia vu en transparence, 1961, no. 11, illustrated in the catalogue np.
Marseilles, Musée Cantini, Picabia, 1962, no. 16
Bern, Kunsthalle, Francis Picabia 1879-1953: Werke von 1909-1924, 1962 (probably)
Grenoble, Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture, Albert Gleizes et tempête dans les salons 1910-1914, 1963, no. 43
Newcastle upon Tyne, Hatton Gallery; London, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Francis Picabia, 1964, no. 6, illustrated in the catalogue np.
Paris, Galerie Furstenberg, Francis Picabia 1879-1953, 1964, no. 8
Leverkusen, Städtisches Museum Schloss Morsbroich; Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Francis Picabia, 1967, no. 7
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Cincinnati, Cincinnati Art Museum; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario; Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Francis Picabia, 1970-71, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue p. 63
Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Francis Picabia, Mezzo secolo di avanguardia, 1974-75, no. 17, illustrated in the catalogue p. 37 et np.
Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle; Zurich, Kunsthaus, Francis Picabia, 1983-84, no. 9, illustrated in the catalogue p. 38
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Francis Picabia, 1984, no. 8, illustrated in the catalogue p. 16
Madrid, Salas Pablo Ruiz Picasso; Barcelona, Centro Cultural de la Caixa de Pensions, Francis Picabia (1879-1953), Exposiciό antolόgica, 1985, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue p. 125
Nîmes, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Francis Picabia, 1986, no. 17, illustrated in the catalogue p. 37
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Passions privées, collections particulières d'art moderne et contemporain en France, 1995-96, no. A 21-1, illustrated in the catalogue p. 243 and p. 244
Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art; Fukushima, Iwaki City Art Museum; Osaka, The Museum of Art, Kintetsu, Francis Picabia, 1999-2000, no. 006, illustrated in the catalogue p. 56
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Francis Picabia, Singulier idéal, 2002-03, illustrated in the catalogue p. 147
London, Tate Modern; Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, 2008, illustrated in the catalogue fig. 6 p. 13
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Marcel Duchamp la peinture, même, 2014-15, illustrated in the catalogue p. 78
Zurich, Kunsthaus; New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Francis Picabia, notre tête est ronde pour permettre à la pensée de changer de direction, 2016-17, illustrated in the catalogue pl. 8 p. 39

Literature

G. D., "Exposition de la Société Normande de Peinture moderne", in Journal de Rouen, no. 128, May 8, 1911, mentioned p. 2
Marc Le Bot, Francis Picabia et la crise des valeurs figuratives 1900-1925, Paris, 1968, no. 13, illustrated np.
William A. Camfield, Francis Picabia, His Art, Life and Times, Princeton, 1979, no. 47, mentioned p. 22 and illustrated np.
Virginia Spate, Orphism, The evolution of non figurative painting in Paris 1910-1914, Oxford, 1979, no. 216, mentioned p. 287 and illustrated p. 288
Marie Lluïsa Borràs, Picabia, Paris, 1985, cat no. 111, fig. 218, mentioned p. 89 and illustrated p. 123
Francis Picabia (exhibition catalogue), Vence, 1998, illustrated p. 19
Arnauld Pierre, Francis Picabia, La peinture sans aura, Paris, 2002, no. 29, illustrated p. 73
Pierre Calté, William A. Camfield, Beverley Calté, Candace Clements & Arnauld Pierre, Francis Picabia, Catalogue raisonné 1898-1914, Brussels, 2014, vol. I, no. 416, illustrated p. 316

Catalogue Note

Adam et Eve by Francis Picabia is a highly seminal work; shown at the second exhibition of the Norman Society of Modern Painting in May 1911, it was his first work to depict nude figures and also the first to deal with sexuality and a biblical theme.
Eve, in the guise of Gabrielle, whom he married in 1909, stands naked, looking out over her seated companion, Adam. Picabia outlines their casually intertwined pink bodies with thick green contours. However, the figures remain curiously intangible, as if the couple were floating above a darker form and a landscape made up of overlapping, brightly coloured Fauvist forms, typical of these 1911 works and inspired by Grimaldi’s landscapes of Italy, where Picabia had stayed several months earlier. Dark circles and flat areas eliminate the distinction between planes. The image, which is almost flat, shimmers with colours, clearly calling to mind Gauguin and the Nabis. The blue of the waterfall is unequivocally reminiscent of a work he painted several months earlier, Ruisseau dans la montagne, which was owned by Simone Kahn-Breton-Collinet. Some elements also seem to have been lifted from Matisse’s Bonheur de Vivre, while the nudes are inspired by Derain’s Baigneuses, which was painted in 1907. Nevertheless, the strange, poetic and undeniably original effect of the work highlights Picabia’s own artistic sensibility. The gradual simplification of forms, the landscape and the human figure already represents a shift towards the abstract. A tension between figuration and abstraction is apparent in the contrast between the figures and their simplified composition, although this contrast is lessened by a uniformly sensual pigment and lush colours that also emphasize the erotic aspect of the subject matter. Picabia likely became interested in the theme of eroticism through Duchamp’s work, where the nude had occupied a fundamental position since 1910. Adam et Eve is close in spirit to the allegorical paintings depicting nude couples in the Garden of Eden that Duchamp created during the same period, such as Paradis, Jeune homme et jeune fille au printemps and Le Buisson. Soon, the modernist concepts of the Cercle de Puteaux, which are already latent here, would lead them both towards a 'mechanomorphic' concept of sexuality and the body.

The erotic charge embodied within the image is accentuated by Eve’s balanced position above Adam, holding the forbidden fruit. Picabia modernizes the theme of original sin by placing the woman in a dominant position with the man in a submissive pose. Picabia, ever irreverent and iconoclastic, uses a traditional, familiar iconography to express a personal sensuality. Before Eve is a mother, she is Adam’s partner. In the Bible, therefore, the couple is a foundational unit; here, the woman is no longer a subordinate being created from Adam’s rib. In a sense, Eve, the first sinner, is rebellious. Like the seductive Omphale who enslaved Hercules by forcing him to dress as a woman and spin wool, Eve assumes power over Adam, who of course has male genitals—which Picabia rendered with relish—but notably, he has feminine hips and an androgynous demeanour. The highly sensual look exchanged between the two figures suggests that Adam is disarmed by his partner’s sensuality and is waiting to enjoy the forbidden fruit. This interpretation of temptation is comparable to Picabia’s attitude; he often saw himself as a voluntary victim when it came to women and man’s God-given sexual nature. As in Klimt’s later work, Eve has more personality and is more sensual, and she supersedes Adam. In any case, the misappropriation of these two biblical figures underlines Picabia’s interest in reflecting on the male/female gender role reversal in matters of love. The subtlety of the painting’s meaning certainly pleased Simone Kahn-Breton-Collinet, its historic owner, a powerful, liberated, educated woman, who was married to André Breton from 1921 to 1929. As one of the early female Surrealists, she was fully involved in all of the circle’s activities, and she built up a historical collection together with her husband. She regularly visited Picabia and his second wife, and she stayed with them in 1922, writing: 'The way they are is such that you can stay with them without doing anything interesting, and without knowing them very intimately, as if you had never lived without them, with a peaceful sense of pleasure. A pleasure that is brought almost every day by a new painting, or a walk at a pace of 100 km/hour.' (Simone Breton, Lettres à Denise Lévy, Paris, 2005, p. 103). She continued to associate with her artist friends in the 1930s, and from 1948 onwards she exhibited works by Francis Picabia, the early historical Surrealist painters and many new talents, in her two galleries.

An early erotic, impetuous, Fauvist work, Adam et Eve is a major milestone in the process of simplifying landscapes and the human form that would lead Picabia to venture into non-figurative art. The theme of Adam and Eve would remain at the heart of Picabia’s work throughout his life, with interpretations of the subject that were as diverse as his style. Ever the provocateur, in the ballet Relâche (1911), he even put on stage a nude Duchamp, alongside Bronia Perlmutter, also nude, mimicking Lucas Cranach the Elder’s painting, Adam and Eve.

Modernités

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Paris