Francis Picabia – Women: Works on Paper 1902-1950

23 Feb-3 May 2024
PV 22 Feb 2024, 6-8pm

Michael Werner Gallery
London W1K 7PZ


We should mistrust
picturesque people
we should mistrust
old master painting
we should even mistrust painting
painted without mistrust

-Francis Picabia (1879-1953)

Michael Werner Gallery, London is pleased to present Francis Picabia – Women: Works on Paper 1902-1950, an exhibition of over 40 works on paper spanning 50 years of the iconoclastic French artist’s career.

Gaining notoriety as a leader in the Dada movement only to later reject it, Picabia’s contemporary Marcel Duchamp described the artist’s work as a “kaleidoscopic series of art experiences.” Always a step ahead of his peers, Picabia produced an extraordinarily diverse body of work that deeply impacted countless generations of artists.

Art critic Dave Hickey writes, “more engaged with making works of art than with constructing an oeuvre or articulating an ideology, Picabia wore out styles like a baby wears out shoes.” Regularly shifting styles, the artist’s interest in rendering the female figure remained steadfast. Culling imagery from sources as diverse as ancient Roman sculpture, paintings by Ingres, popular erotic magazines and Hollywood studio portraits, Picabia’s drawings of women illustrate the artist’s expansive and often contradictory interrogation of image-making itself. The drawings range from personal portraits of lovers and friends to stylised, anonymous icons of femininity. For Picabia, representations of women were both an artistic end and a means of aesthetic exploration. Continually reinterpreting this classical subject throughout his career, Picabia produced a portfolio which moves with agility and wit between beauty and bad taste, the avant-garde and the kitsch.