Francis Picabia. Aello. 1930. Oil on canvas, 66 9/16 × 66 9/16″ (169 × 169 cm). Private collection

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is a comprehensive survey of Picabia’s audacious, irreverent, and profoundly influential work across mediums. This will be the first exhibition in the United States to chart his entire career.

Among the great modern artists of the past century, Francis Picabia (French, 1879–1953) also remains one of the most elusive. He vigorously avoided any singular style, and his work encompassed painting, poetry, publishing, performance and film. Though he is best known as one of the leaders of the Dada movement, his career ranged widely—and wildly—from Impressionism to radical abstraction, from Dadaist provocation to pseudo-classicism, and from photo-based realism to art informel. Picabia’s consistent inconsistencies, his appropriative strategies, and his stylistic eclecticism, along with his skeptical attitude, make him especially relevant for contemporary artists, and his career as a whole challenges familiar narratives of the avant-garde.

Francis Picabia features over 200 works, including some 125 paintings, key works on paper, periodicals and printed matter, illustrated letters, and one film. The exhibition aims to advance the understanding of Picabia’s relentless shape-shifting, and how his persistent questioning of the meaning and purpose of art ensured his iconoclastic legacy’s lasting influence.

Watch curator Anne Umland tour the exhibition with artists Peter Fischli and Rashid Johnson (on Facebook Live) and with artist Lisa Yuskavage (on YouTube Live).

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Organized by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and Cathérine Hug, Curator, Kunsthaus Zürich; with Talia Kwartler, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art.

Major support for the New York presentation is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Generous funding is provided by Lawrence B. Benenson.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Paint provided by Farrow & Ball.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund with major contributions from Alice and Tom Tisch, Glenn and Eva Dubin, The Donald R. Mullen Family Foundation, Inc., The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Past events

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