watercolour and pencil on paper, in a wood and
coloured mirror frame by Rose Adler
Executed circa 1930
Ino belongs to Picabia’s elegant Transparences series, which derives its name from multiple layers of overlapping imagery. The bold frame for Ino was designed by French fashion, furniture and jewellery designer Rose Adler, who was given the work directly by the artist – bringing together Surrealism and Art Deco.
In this work, two faces of undeterminable gender are combined with foliage to create an image of timeless and contemplative beauty. The deliberately obscure quality renders it a seemingly impenetrable allegory with characteristics of a dream or mystic vision. The mysterious work is
named after the Theban queen Ino, an example of Picabia’s tendency to choose titles based on
Biblical characters and Greco-Roman mythology. The Transparences also drew their inspiration
from Romanesque Frescos, Renaissance painting and Catalan art – rich in a combination of
cultural references that together become compositions of great beauty and harmony.
Magnéto anglaise (1921-22, estimate: £400,000-600,000) is one of a much celebrated series of ironic, ‘abstract’ works that Francis Picabia made for his solo show at the Galerie Dalmau in Barcelona, in November 1922. It was first bought from the artist by the celebrated collector and Parisian fashion designer Jaques Doucet and later formed part of the English collection of E.J. Power for 20 years. Picabia’s ‘mechanomorphic’ abstractions appeared to challenge and lampoon the whole idea of modernist aesthetics, the contemporary art market and the mechanical workings of human sexual attraction and interaction.
Rich in imagery and enigmatic in its meaning, Statices (1929, estimate: £1,300,000-1,800,000) is a captivating example of Picabia’s celebrated Transparency paintings, a series of works named for their depiction of multiple images, layered atop one another in an effect similar to multiple-exposure photography.
Completing this group is Phimparey (circa 1941-42, estimate: £200,000-300,000), a painting that demonstrates a move towards pop art in its reproduction of a popular magazine image.
Francis Picabia Ventilateur (circa1918) Estimate: £1,800,000-2,500,000
An exceptional example of Picabia’s rare and profoundly influential machinist compositions from his Dada period, in this work a ventilation machine is depicted as analogous with a potent female sexuality. The use of mechanical forms and the sensational associations they evoke were fundamental to the artist’s perception of art’s role in the modern, industrialised epoch.
Sotheby’s Surrealist Art Evening Sale 3rd February 2015
Oil, brush and ink and black crayon on panel 120 by 94.5cm; 471⁄4 by 371⁄4in.
Painted circa 1929
Est. £800,000 – 1.2 million
Painted circa 1929, Lunaris is an exceptional example of Picabia's celebrated ‘Transparence’ paintings that Picabia executed in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This series of works, which was a marked departure from the artist’s Dadist experiments of the previous decades, derived its name from the multiple layers of overlapping imagery that Picabia employed and is characterised by figurative images underpinned by a Classical beauty.
The first owner of the present work was the influential French art dealer Léonce Rosenberg (1879-1947) who greatly admired Picabia’s work and commissioned several paintings for his home.
As the Museum of Modern Art, New York announced a major Picabia retrospective, scheduled for November 2016, the sale will present two other ‘Transparence’ paintings, including
Lunis, also from circa 1929, (est. £800,000- 1,200,000)
and Espagnole et Agneau de l'Apocalypse, from circa 1927-1928 (est. £160,000-200,000).
Christie’s London 2015: The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale
Estimate 180,000 — 250,000 USD