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Atrata
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Atrata
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Atrata

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About the item

Over these last two years Picabia has made an extraordinary discovery in painting, which consists in superimposing several figures par transparence. No one had done this before him. Jean Van Heeckeren, 1929\n\nIn the late 1970s, Picabia was much discussed by the new generation of younger artists, and one of the main figures who fuelled this interest was, without doubt, Sigmar Polke. Picabias Transparencies provided a formal point of reference, but there was a much stronger connection between the mentalities of these two artists.\nPeter Fischli\n\n these transparencies with their corner of oubliettes permit me to express for myself the resemblance of my interior desires I want a painting where all my instincts may have a free course.\nFrancis Picabia\n\nRich in imagery and historical references, mysterious in mood and delicate in execution, Atrata is one of the most stunning examples of Picabias Transparences. Created in the late 1920s and early 1930s, this body of work derives its name from multiple layers of overlapping imagery, combined with great virtuosity and achieving a cinematic effect. In the present painting, several faces, animals and fruit are amalgamated into an image of timeless and enigmatic beauty. Despite their transparent quality, the meaning of the faces remains unknown, and the composition appears to be a seemingly impenetrable allegory with characteristics of a dream or a mystic vision.\n\nTransparences draw their iconography from a wealth of sources natural phenomena as well as antique sculpture, Romanesque frescos, Renaissance painting and Catalan art. Following his experimentation with Dada and abstraction, in the 1920s Picabia turned away from the aesthetic of shock towards a kind of painterly renaissance, creating figurative images of mysterious, evocative beauty. As William A. Camfield wrote: The transparencies are complex paintings with multiple layers of faces, figures, hands, birds and foliage. The images are here transparent and there opaque, disparate in scale and orientation, charged with mysterious relationships or private symbolism and fraught with ambiguities of form and space similar to those in multiple film exposures. Despite such complexities, most of the early transparencies are imbued with a serene melancholy conveyed by cool color harmonies, ephemeral forms, fluid pigment and, above all, by ideal, classicizing figures. [] Picabia drew heavily on visual sources from Classical art and Italian art of the Renaissance and Baroque epochs. Until 1930, Botticelli was his primary Renaissance source (W. A. Camfield, op. cit., 1970, p. 41).\n\nCamfield has identified the specific historic sources that Picabia used in the present composition: In Atrata Picabia has [] appropriated, modified and recombined diverse models. The prominent head in the upper center and the hands below it, with thumbs touching near the center of the painting, are adapted from Botticellis Portrait of a Man with a Medal [fig. 1]. Layers of forms beneath those images include a Roman statue of Atlas [fig. 2], but the large hands around the globe of Atlas are again Botticelli in origin as is the hand with grapes at the lower left [fig. 4] (W. A. Camfield, op. cit., 1979, p. 236). Spanning almost the entire height of the panel, the central figure of Atlas holding a globe on his shoulders was based on the Roman marble of the Greek mythological figure, which Picabia would have seen at the Archaeological Museum in Naples.\nWhile Picabia reached back to Old Masters for inspiration, his art was both revolutionary and iconoclastic at the time, and it continues to influence generations of artists to the present day. In 2016-17 Picabias art was the subject of a major and highly acclaimed retrospective held in Zurich and New York, and in the exhibition catalogue Cathérine Hug analyses his impact on contemporary art: Picabia has long been described as an artists artist, his influence seen in the work of a long and varied list of talents across the past several decades that defies easy summarization, a forebear of such diverse ate twentieth-century currents as Pop art, Neo-Expressionism, and Conceptual art indeed, an artist whom Peter Fischli aptly characterizes as pre-postmodern and one who continues to fascinate a younger generation of artists today.\n\nDiscussing the reception of Picabias work in the 1980s, Hug continues: As the era of postmodernism dawned, the inveterate eclecticism that had marked Picabias entire career and which had drawn the ire of numerous critics during his lifetime instead bean to be seen as a personification of the aesthetic discourse that would dominate much of the following two decades (C. Hug in Francis Picabia: Our Heads are Round so our Thoughts can Change Direction (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., pp. 294 & 297). Whilst the influence of various groups of works within Picabias uvre is wide ranging, the German artist Sigmar Polkes works from the 1990s (fig. 3) certainly reflect the inspiration found in the overlapping imagery of Picabias Transparences.\n\nIn this series of works, Picabia often chose titles based on Biblical characters and Greco-Roman mythology, as well as on names of insects and animals. The Latin word atrata - meaning clothed in black - is used to designate several animal species, and may well have been taken from the Atlas de poche des papillons de France, Suisse et Belgique by Paul Girod, a small volume of which Picabia owned a copy and to which he often turned in search of exotic titles.\n\nPicabia created his first Transparences in 1928 and the early examples from this series were exhibited at Théophile Briants gallery in Paris in 1928. Having been dismissive of Picabias earlier Dada production, the dealer Léonce Rosenberg was highly impressed with these new works. He not only immediately bought three of them, but also commissioned Picabia, alongside Léger and De Chirico, to create decorative panels for his Parisian home. Rosenberg passionately promoted Picabias art executed during this period, and it was thanks to his efforts that Atrata was included in two important early exhibitions: in October-November 1930 it featured in Produktion Paris 1930, according to Maria Lluïsa Borràs a very ambitious exhibition that included works by Arp, Delaunay, Ernst, Gleizes and Mondrian among others. In December of the same year Rosenberg included Atrata in a show at his own gallery in Paris, Picabias first major retrospective covering several decades of his opus. Having been sold at auction in Paris in 1974, Atrata has remained in the same private collection for over forty years.\n\nThis work will be included in the Picabia Catalogue Raisonné, being prepared by the Comité Picabia.\nSigned Francis Picabia (lower right) and titled (upper left)
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notes

Please note that as of 25th February 2019, Sotheby's Buyer's Premium payable on each lot is as follows: - 25% of the hammer price up to and including £300,000, - 20% on the portion of the hammer price in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000, and - 13.9% on the portion of the hammer price in excess of £3,000,000. These rates are exclusive of any applicable VAT and Artist's Resale Right royalty. Please note due to the size of this item, it will be transferred from the saleroom to Sotheby's Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility after the sale. Collection can be made from Sotheby's Greenford Park two days after the sale, but not on the day immediately following the sale. Please see the Buying at Auction guide or contact the sale administrator for further information.

medium

Oil and pencil on panel

creator

Picabia, Francis

dimensions

149.5 by 95cm.

exhibition

Zurich, Kunstsalon Wolfsberg, Produktion Paris 1930: Werke der Malerei und Plastik, 1930, no. 65, illustrated in the catalogue Paris, Galerie de l’Effort Moderne (Léonce Rosenberg), Francis Picabia: trente ans de peinture, 1930, no. 43 Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Francis Picabia, 1976, no. 184, illustrated in the catalogue Paris, Palais des Congrès, Picabia. Dandy et Héraut de l’art du XXe siècle, 1980-81, no. 16, illustrated in the catalogue Brussels, Musée d’Ixelles, Picabia, 1983, no. 40, illustrated in the catalogue Nîmes, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Francis Picabia, 1986, no. 76, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Antwerp, Ronny van de Velde & Majorca, Fundació Pilar y Joan Miró, Francis Picabia, 1993, no. 34, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Francis Picabia, Singulier idéal, 2002-03, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Krems, Kunsthalle, Francis Picabia. Retrospective, 2012, illustrated in the catalogue Zurich, Kunsthaus & New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, 2016-17, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

literature

William A. Camfield, Francis Picabia (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1970, fig. 24, illustrated p. 40 William A. Camfield, Francis Picabia. His Art, Life and Times, Princeton, 1979, fig. 326, illustrated Maria Lluïsa Borràs, Picabia, London, 1985, no. 527, fig. 683, illustrated p. 354 Philippe Dagen, L’Art Français, Le XXe siècle, Paris, 1998, illustrated in colour p. 47 Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Léger, Picabia in the Presence of the Antique (exhibition catalogue), The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2011-12, pl. 53, illustrated in colour p. 120 Beverley Calté (ed.), Album Picabia. Olga Mohler Picabia, Brussels, 2016, illustrated

provenance

Léonce Rosenberg, Paris Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 26th October 1945, lot 110 Sale: Guy Loudmer, Hôtel George V, Paris, 13th December 1974, lot 76 Maurice Weinberg, Paris (purchased at the above sale) Thence by descent to the present owner

signedDate

Signed Francis Picabia (lower right) and titled (upper left)

time_period

Painted circa 1929.

time_range_end

1929

artist_range_end

1953

time_range_start

1929

artist_range_start

1879

consignmentDesignation

Property from an Important European Collection

creator_nationality_dates

1879 - 1953


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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HORNBILL SKELETON
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1,900 USD

HORNBILL SKELETON
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HORNBILL SKELETON

Realized Price
1,000 USD