Owning to the customary practice of objective painting, both artists began as highly capable painters, adept at imitating the popular styles of the times. Neither, however, were interested in staying within the confines of academicism. They found commonality in their interest in, as Duchamp put it, focusing “painting once again at the service of the mind.” Similarly, Picabia declared, “One must be a nomad, pass through ideas like one passes through countries and cities.”
Within Air de New York is a collection of works possessing iconic traits and varied manners of both Duchamp’s and Picabia’s celebrated oeuvres. At the center of the display is Duchamp’s Boîte-en-Valise (Series F) [Box in a Valise (Series F)], the final and most complete iteration of the work, as well as a singular example of his Air de Paris (50cc d’air de Paris) [Paris Air (50cc of Paris Air)]. Picabia’s wide-ranging style is exemplified by Loxia, painted circa 1938, which highlights the artist’s experimentation with the layering of images, rendering the outline of the symbolic red bird over the mystifying silhouette of a crouching female nude. In another work, En agissant nous oublions (By Acting We Forget), circa 1946-47, we find that Picabia has cast figuration aside in favor of a dreamlike abstract form.
The artists shared many common interests, and while they initially met in Paris, their friendship flourished in New York City. Both had a penchant for provocation and eroticism and were rooted in the same philosophy of life and way of living.
May / 12 / 2023
July / 29 / 2023