Francis Picabia (Kids)

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*L’Œil cacodylate (The Cacodylic Eye)*

Francis Picabia. L’Œil cacodylate (The Cacodylic Eye). 1921 6540

Francis Picabia. L’Œil cacodylate (The Cacodylic Eye). 1921. Oil, enamel paint, gelatin silver prints, postcard, and cut-and-pasted printed papers on canvas, 58 1/2 × 46 1/4″ (148.6 × 117.4 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Paris. Purchase in honor of the era of Le Bœuf sur le Toit, 1967. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerdtchian/Dist. RMN–Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York

Narrator: Once, Picabia was home sick in bed and he decided to make an unusual painting, with help from all of his friends. Picabia had a sore eye, so he painted a picture of a big eye near the bottom. Can you see it looking at you?

Then, up at the very top, he added the title of the painting in big letters: L’Œil cacodylate

That’s French for “eye,” and the medicine Picabia’s doctor gave him to make it feel better.

As each of his friends came to visit him, Picabia asked them to sign the painting, and maybe add a little message or a picture.

What Picabia ended up with is a group portrait of all of his friends. Notice all the different kinds of handwriting. His friends wrote from side-to-side, and up and down and even around in a circle.

Picabia was a funny guy, and his friends were funny, too. Here are some of the things they wrote on the painting:

Voice: My heart beats, Valentine.

Voice: I have nothing to say to you.

Voice: Me? I’m stupid.

Voice: I like salad!

Anne Umland: Right in the lower left corner, you can see the name of the artist, Francis Picabia, and the date he painted it, 1921. And then he has added right above that a little collage photograph of his own face, just in case you were wondering what he looked like.

Narrator: When you leave the museum, try making your own group portrait with your friends, like Picabia did. You could invite them to use words, or photos, or drawings, or whatever they like!