Francis Picabia

(1879 - 1953)
Francis Picabia Fille née sans mère [Girl Born without a Mother] About 1916 - 1917 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017.


French-born Picabia was a highly versatile artist, working in a number of styles throughout his life. He experimented with Impressionism and Cubism, but it was for his work with the New York Dada group that he became most noted. Influenced by his friend Marcel Duchamp and by the enthusiasm for mechanisation in America, Picabia began depicting the machine in his work. Like Duchamp, Picabia had a taste for paradox and the absurd. He was never afraid to court unconventionality, and his works often had hidden ironic meanings.

Glossary terms

  • A radical artistic and literary movement that was a reaction against the cultural climate that supported the First World War. The Dadaists took an anti-establishment attitude, questioning art's status and favouring performance and collage over traditional art techniques. Many Dadaists went on to become involved with Surrealism.