“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.
SP-Arte, which opened to VIPs and press in São Paulo today, is rich with Brazilian modern art, blue-chip contemporary, and, yes, pieces by Francis Picabia.
On the ground floor, Paris’s Galerie 1900–2000 has devoted one wall of its action-packed booth to the master, hanging two drawings—a 1916–18 ink sketch of a machine and an abstract 1924 portrait—and two late paintings, a sensual circa 1942–43 painting of a blonde-haired dancer, drenched in light, and a catapulting abstraction in greens, greys, and blacks from 1946. (If you want to spend time with those last two after the fair closes on Sunday, they will cost you $638,000 and $275,000, respectively.)
Upstairs, on the airier second floor, Michael Werner Gallery, which exhibits Picabia extensively, has an especially peculiar, ultra-late abstraction (pictured below) that is titled Dimanche (Sunday) and dated 1951, two years before Picabia’s death. It appears to show a candle burning blue and white, or a slim, featureless head ensconced in a white bonnet. They also have a circa 1930–31 drawing of a woman from the artist’s “transparencies” period—arms, hands, and breasts overlapping one on top of another in watercolor, ink, pencil, and pastel. More pleasures await in Werner’s back room.