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On view  |  Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 5, Floor 5

Francis Picabia. I See Again in Memory My Dear Udnie. 1914, possibly begun 1913

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Francis Picabia (French, 1879–1953)

I See Again in Memory My Dear Udnie

Date:
1914, possibly begun 1913
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
8' 2 1/2" x 6' 6 1/4" (250.2 x 198.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Hillman Periodicals Fund
MoMA Number:
4.1954
Copyright:
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 92

Like the Futurists and like his friend Marcel Duchamp, Picabia recognized the importance of the machine in the dawning technological age. The hard-edged, evenly rounded shapes of I See Again in Memory My Dear Udnie, some of them in metallic grays, parallel fusions of the mechanical and the organic in Duchamp's painting, and anticipate more overt references of this kind in Picabia's later work. Perspectival lines at the painting's sides suggest a space around this fragmented body, which seems to stand on a kind of stage. Segmented tubes among the curling forms may have a sexual subtext, and Picabia himself described his art of this period as trying "to render external an internal state of mind or feeling."

The "Udnie" of this work's title was surely a certain Mlle. Napierskowska, a professional dancer whom Picabia met on the ocean liner that took him to the United States to participate in the famous Armory Show of 1913. Fascinated by Napierskowska's performances (which were suggestive enough to provoke her arrest during her American tour), Picabia began to produce gouaches and watercolors inspired by her even before landing in New York. Over the following year, he extended this imagery in paintings, titling one of them Udnie (Young American Girl)—and thus suggesting that the abstract planes of these works relate to the human form.

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