Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction

*Femmes au bull-dog (Women with Bulldog)*

Francis Picabia. Femmes au bull-dog (Women with Bulldog). c. 1941

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Francis Picabia. Femmes au bull-dog (Women with Bulldog). c. 1941. Oil on board, 41 3/4 × 29 15/16″ (106 × 76 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Paris. Purchase from a public sale, 2003. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Jean-Claude Planchet/Dist. RMN–Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York

Picabia's Women with Bulldog is one of a number of photo-based paintings that he painted in the south of France during World War II.

Many of the images in this picture came from popular French soft core porn magazines of the 1930's. And in this sense, they continue his practice of appropriating images produced through mechanical reproduction.

The dog and each of the women come from a different photographic source. It's interesting to look, too, at the very different ways Picabia has painted this picture, the way he handles paint. The dog—Picabia painted it with lots of wonderful, juicy expressionistic brushstrokes—as opposed to the very soft focus, smooth, photographic style that he used for the blonde's body in particular.

Picabia highlights the work's photographic origins; such details as this high contrast, rather unrealistic studio lighting and the compositional distortions that are produced by the camera lens. Picabia carries these effects over to his paintings, which is one of the reasons that the more you look at them, you realize that they do not add up in any traditional sense.

Francis Picabia. Femmes au bull-dog (Women with Bulldog). c. 1941. Oil on board, 41 3/4 × 29 15/16″ (106 × 76 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Paris. Purchase from a public sale, 2003. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Jean-Claude Planchet/Dist. RMN–Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York
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