Friday, March 13, 2009

The Friday Evening Nudes

Francis Picabia

French painter and writer. He was one of the major figures of the Dada movement in France and in the USA but remained as stubbornly uncategorizable as he was influential. In his rejection of consistency and of an identifiable manner, he called into question attitudes to the artistic process that had been regarded as sacrosanct and in so doing guaranteed the intellectual force of his ideas for subsequent generations of artists. Read more about Picabia here








15 comments:

  1. this was fascinating to read...thanks for providing the link!

    I don't know which I like least or more, they are all compelling in one way or another!!
    xoxo

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  2. the light and color in the last two is beautiful - not sure what I think of the ones that remind me of cartoons

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  3. A couple of them look more like pulp book covers than serious works of art but the final three dispel that impression of his ability. Perhaps he was making social commentary.

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  4. I agree with Susan. I like the last four very much, but the first are just too perfect to be believed.

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  5. I agree with Susan's "pulp fiction" book cover comment but I really like the window in the left corner of the second one - the one with the two women and the dog.

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  6. Beautiful work, he sure is a clever man.

    Just love your Paris Post, its a beautiful city, have visited twice, once in the city and second we visited Monets Garden.

    Thanks for your visit and kind comments = Come knocking at the door will soon be posted.

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  7. What a broad spread of style and intent. I can see the pulp fiction comment, to some extent, especially on the bulldog painting, but even there, I look at the larger version and wonder how this must be in the original. The paint is beautifully handled on her figure.

    I find my problem with that painting, and the last, is that I don't like his handling of the faces. He appears to have the same problem in those two pieces that I have in most of my figures; I think he freezes up a little when he gets to something he's not so comfortable painting. The first painting further backs my point - he managed to paint no faces there, and the whole piece seems more even and consistent in handling, comfort, ease. I think he avoided their faces - chose poses without faces...

    I love the first painting, BTW. Maybe it's because I have now gotten back into drawing the figure. His sure and casual way of handling paint to make the different surfaces and their reflection of the light, the way the intensity of the light is captured without sacrificing the softness or warmth of the flesh, the play of shadows, in some cases carefully arranged (for instance, I can't believe that the shadow on the abdomen of the lowest right figure is an accident - nor the shadow running down the side of the tall central figure, a shadow perfectly placed to show the breast, the ribs, the bones of the hip, the iliac, the forward bow of the thigh - so much is told with that one line - amazing). I also like the way he painted the light on the hair of these figures. Even the warmth of the red in the pubic hair of the central figure is stunning, as is the echo of that color below her right breast and then on her head.

    The one thing that doesn't work for me in this piece is the combining of the figures. The composition doesn't quite work (too heavy on the right), and they obviously aren't really interacting in real space... I think his attempt to place them in a setting together doesn't make it, and so it's a distraction. I wish he'd just painted them and not worried about the setting - kept it more abstract, more like a composite of studies.

    Actually the lady with the bulldog isn't quite right, either, the way she's "on" the dog - it seems assembled for the piece, and on the piece. I do that, too, in some of my paintings - assemble things - and I also fail to make it really work sometimes. It distracts me in my work (I can't see anything else, like Seurat's circus painting, where all he could see was the "error in the horse") and it distracts me looking at these Picabias.

    The fourth painting (the girl with the red poppies) is another case of figures combined on the paper (not in real life) but I like the combination better here. It's not as forced. I believe it's the same figure both times. Again, the pose and shadows on the right hand figure are so beautiful they justify the entire piece - they make all the rest work. That shadow to the left of her chin, ending at that ray of highlight between arm and shoulder... And the shadows on her abdomen look like he lived among them for a long time, savoring their subtle beauty. Her face is handled with the same confidence as the figures - I really like that. Her elbow... the hand over her head... Sigh. The light on that hand is lovely. Hands might be the hardest part of the figure to draw or paint. (Durer, for instance, understood that and was showing off to his fellow artists.)

    The third one, the girl with the chrysanthemum, is different - like a Redon, or an Art Nouveau figure - it seems early 20th century to me. Soft warm light, exterior setting, but interior feeling. Dreamscape. The other pieces all seem more modern than this one. I love that line on the right, from below her breast to her hand - subtle things make arm and abdomen so convincing. That's what is so compelling about drawing the figure - so little can convey so much information because we know this shape so well, and because the subtleties convey not just shapes, but emotional content, "body language." I doubt there is another thing on earth where the tiniest differences can alter the viewer's perceptions so greatly. We are preoccupied with each other.

    The second to last (mostly her back and face over her shoulder) reminds me so much of Cezanne that I have a hard time really seeing Picabia... It's more painterly, but I don't think that paint style does anything for the figure. I adore Cezanne's style for still life (peaches! his style makes peaches look more like peaches than they do in real life, to me) and for landscape, but it's harsh on figures and faces. I get the feeling Cezanne didn't really like people, didn't really SEE people. I think that's true, to a large extent from what I've read. Picabia does seem to see them, and to be vulnerable to their beauty. So this piece doesn't appeal to me as much.

    And the last one. I just don't know. It seems so awkward. It's the kind of drawing after a life drawing session that I would be tempted not to show you guys. It seems heavy handed. And I'd like it better if the face were less of a cartoon. Maybe I'm reacting as I am because I'm seeing things that frustrate me in my own attempts...

    Beautiful set, Pagan - many thanks. This got me thinking and looking a lot more than a set of nearly perfect pieces would have. And these pieces offer some insights for my drawing questions/issues with breasts.

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  8. Thanks for the visit to Norfolk Gardens, dont forget to pop and see more from there on Sunday.

    Also thanks for your comments.

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  9. I don't know that I've ever seen his work so this was an interesting set for me. I think I was most drawn to the one with the two women and the dog. It does have the pulp fiction book cover look to it. But what really drew my eye was the put upon expression on the dog's face.

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  10. The last one: I'm sure you've posted it before?

    I really like them all, in different ways...

    The girl w/ the white flower really speaks to me most [Um, except for the Unnatural Look, "down there". Viva La Pubes! ;-)]

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  11. FYI, Gina, did you realize you wrote the name of the artist (at the top of the thread, right under the photo) in black script on a black background? :-/

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  12. JCF: thanks for picking up on the color of the text. Sometimes I need to rush through a post because honestly, I just barely (no pun intended) have enough time to put it together. I'm always amazed by people who have so much writing and links and pictures and stuff and how they have time for it all.

    And about the "pubes" comment: :-D I'm 100% in agreement!

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  13. Steve: I love how you analyze the art. I'm largely unable and/or unwilling to do that; most unable! But I think it's because I don't paint. Because you do, you bring a whole new level of awareness to the art. Particularly now that you're working on your figure drawing. Picabia certainly had problems with his nudes and your comment makes me wonder how he felt about his own work.

    I'm glad the nudes series is helpful to you in your attempts to master the body drawing; the faces.

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  14. Love the paintings, they all have something different to offer, always enjoy the ones you have on your blog.

    By the way, don't clobber me, but I've sent you an award -- the Sisterhood Award, you can check it out on my blog.

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  15. interesting paintings.... enjoyed.

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