Picabia Alert

Picabia Alert #1: L.A.’s Hannah Hoffman Has a Mysterious Late Picabia on View

Francis Picabia, Masque, 1949, oil on canvas, 23 1/2 x 28 3/4 in.MICHAEL UNDERWOOD/COURTESY MICHAEL WERNER GALLERY, NEW YORK AND LONDON

“Picabia Alert” is a recurring feature that takes note of shows that feature work by the wily French artist Francis Picabia (1879–1953). Why Picabia? Because I love him and hopefully you do too, and because he is having a retrospective at the Kunsthaus Zurich and New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2016.

It’s hard to go wrong with late Picabia—particularly when he goes sexy and kitschy—but this is one of the wildest I have seen (albeit only in JPEG form): there’s the strange ear appearing out of the blue-black void, the stars that look like miniatures of his extremely late abstractions, and that creepy smile on the lady. (A mask, if we take the title literally.) The little painting is included in the show “Image Search,” which Parinaz Mogadassi organized at Los Angeles’s Hannah Hoffman Gallery, on view through February 28. Picabia painted a number of works involving masks over the years—another one, Mi-Carême (Mid-Lent) (1925), will be on view at Christie’s London from January 30 through February 4, when it will be put on the block.


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