response to his grandfather's prediction that color photography will eventually
replace painting, Picabia retorts, “You can photograph a landscape, but
not the forms I have in my head.” -- a fundamental theme which unifies
Picabia's aesthetic convictions, among the most heterodox of this century.
early he develops an aggressively independent character; at the same time,
his talent as an artist appears. After a tumultuous primary education,
Picabia begins his artistic apprenticeship at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs
in 1895 where he studies under Corman, Humbert and Wallet. Braque and
Marie Laurencin are fellow students, Van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec recent
graduates. 1899 marks Picabia's debut in the Salon des Artistes Français
with the painting, Une rue aux Martigues.
It isn't until after 1902 that the influence of Pissarro, and especially
Sisley, is felt and with it Picabia's Impressionist period flowers. He
begins exhibiting at the more liberal Salon d'Automne and Salon des Indépendants
as well as the avant garde galerie of Berthe Wei1l. Success and notoriety
follow. Picabia signs a contract with the prestigious Galerie Haussmann.
In 1905, Danthon, proprietor of the galerie, mounts the first of three
one‑man shows and a prolific period follows where he perfects his
Impressionism. Picabia's approach aligns him to the Symbolist-Synthesist
concepts of the late 19th century where art is not considered a copy of
nature, but rather the artist's emotional experience of it as seen in
a synthesis of form and color with subjective expression.
|With his brilliant reputation
firmly established after the exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in
1909, Picabia abandons the past and his place as its famous protagonist
to embark on the adventure of modern art. The same year he marries Gabrielle
Buffet, a young avant‑garde musician who will be an intellectual stimulus
throughout his life. The two abstract drawings of 1908 preview his first
abstract painting of 1909, Caoutchouc. Although Picabia does not pursue the possibilities of
this new direction until 1912, this is the first of many ruptures which
characterise his work and his life. A young artist of thirty, he is banished
from the company of established galeries, their clientèle and critics. The
coup de grace is administered
by Danthon, March 1909, at the Hotel Drouot where he auctions off over one
hundred of Picabia's lmpressionist paintings.