Thirty years ago, viewers may have found the dramatic shifts in his work bewildering; today it’s obvious that he was an artistic driving force of the 20th century.
The artist’s “Nu de Do” makes a blue-chip, cock-rock show at Gagosian Gallery worthwhile.
CHICAGO — “Paintings are made for dentists.” So goes one of the many acerbic lines in artist Francis Picabia’s freewheeling poems.
PARIS — In our stimulating era of online publishing, it is all the more exciting to look back at paper precedents. And Man Ray, Picabia et la revue Littérature (1922-1924) at the Centre Pompidou provides just such an opportunity by focusing on the period between the end of the Dadaist movement and the advent of Surrealism.
Surreal. It’s one of those words like insane or awesome that’s taken a beating from aggressive misuse. I’ve heard the term applied to both a bus driver wearing a funny hat and the sight of the second plane hitting the tower. “It was so surreal,” that long e sung out like an animal’s cry of distress, is one of the more commonplace characterizations of any even vaguely untypical experience. The show currently at the Morgan Library and Museum, Drawing Surrealism, affords an opportunity to get reacquainted with the ideas and art behind the now overly familiar adjective.
How much more powerful to say “drawing surrealism” than something like “surrealist drawings.” It gets the action into the art, which is, often, exactly where it is. Unweighted by color, untrammeled by, oh you know, something like the history of painting and how the surrealists (in whatever grouping you choose to deal or not deal with them) dealt with that history. Very often, not at all.