“Picabia Alert” takes note of shows that feature work by the wily French artist Francis Picabia (1879–1953), aiming to sate Picabia appetites until the Picabia retrospective arrives at the Kunsthaus Zurich and New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2016.
Today’s Picabia Alert takes us to Ostend, Belgium, which is currently home to a multi-venue show called “The Sea,” a wide-ranging look at its eponymous subject that the late, great curator Jan Hoet conceived in the years leading up to his death, in 2014. (Phillip van den Bossche completed the curatorial work on the exhibition, which has been dedicated to Hoet.) “The Sea” includes this handsome Picabia painting of a boat sailing with a steady wind. It’s a sunny day, the vessel casting a long shadow across the water. The year of the work was the subject of some disagreement, as Alain Tarica noted in Artnet magazine back in 2002, but it’s now firmly dated to 1911 in the new Picabia catalogue raisonné (more on that epic tome soon). At the time, Picabia was experimenting with Fauvism, and would soon be venturing into Cubism with Marcel Duchamp, whom he met that same year. This work pairs intriguingly with the previous Picabia Alert, Notornis (1936–38), in which the sea has grown choppy and dangerous, and the boat is strangely spectral.