Francis Picabia's Dadaist Inventions

Francis Picabia (1879-1953) was a French artist who worked in several styles, including Impressionism, Pointillism, Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism. He made these drawings below for his self-published magazine "391," which was primarily a literary magazine but also included art. Both of these images were included in issue #3, published in March of 1917, with the image below left on the cover of the magazine, and the image below right somewhere inside the magazine (we're not sure whether it illustrated an article or was an indepedent feature). Scroll down for more ...

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Picabia made two early visits to the United States, first in 1913 to participate in the Armory Show, and then again in 1915, primarily to avoid World War I in Europe. Picabia was inspired by American machinery, and was once quoted as saying "... the genius of the modern world is machinery, and through machinery, art ought to find a most vivid expression." He often tried to "humanize" the machines in his drawings, giving them names and relating them (in his imagination) to some sort of human function.

dadaist machine drawing by Francis Picabia titled Flamenca

Francis Picabia, Flamenca, 1917.

dadaist machine drawing by Francis Picabia titled Marie

Francis Picabia, Marie, 1917.

Lesson plan idea:

Since these "machines" are indeed imaginary, why not use our imaginations and come up with some ideas for what purposes these machines might have served in Picabia's mind? If you are a teacher or homeschooler, you could show these images to your student(s) and ask them to write an explanation of what these machines might do or what their purpose might be if they were indeed real.

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