Francis Picabia (Kids)

*Study for Relâche, Jean Börlin*

Francis Picabia. Study for Relâche, Jean Börlin. 1924 6550

Francis Picabia. Study for Relâche, Jean Börlin. 1924. Ink and pencil on paper, 9 1/16 × 5 11/16″ (23 × 14.5 cm). Dansmuseet – Museum Rolf de Maré Stockholm. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo © Dansmuseet – Museum Rolf de Maré Stockholm

Narrator: Picabia and his friends decided to put on a ballet—with dancers and sets and music. They called it Relâche. These three drawings are Picabia’s designs for the dancer’s costumes.

Talia Kwartler: Many people thought that this ballet was a joke._

Narrator: In the ballet, the dancers started out sitting in the audience in their regular clothes. Then they climbed up on stage, took off their clothes and showed that they were wearing polka dot costumes like these underneath. Walk around the gallery, and you’ll see photographs of the dancers in the actual ballet.

Another reason people thought this ballet was a joke was the title: Relache. In French that means something that’s been cancelled. People weren’t sure if the ballet was really going to happen.

The ballet was hard to watch, and listen to! The polka dots were made of mirrors. The lights bounced off the mirrors so it was hard to see. To make it even more uncomfortable, the music was very loud!

Talia Kwartler: And Picabia, he advised that people bring dark sunglasses and bring cotton to plug your ears. Part of what makes the ballet so crazy is that there's not a beginning, a middle and an end. It's almost as if you can start or stop at any different point.

Narrator: Talia, from the museum, loved these costumes so much, she decided to make one of her own.

Talia Kwartler: It was a week before Halloween, and I went as the female dancer. I just had such a great time dressed up like a Relâche dancer. I guess it's more fun to dance in polka dots!

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