Picabia began this painting as a joke, to entertain himself and his friends at a time when he was suffering from an eye infection and his doctor prescribed something called sodium cacodylate. How effective it was we may never know, considering its toxicity which can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes! – not to mention its garlic-like smell.
Perhaps to ease his discomfort during what must have been a very irritating period, the artist painted an eye on a canvas and asked friends who visited him to leave their mark around it.
The result is a unique collage of signatures, pictures and dedications but, more significantly, a record of Picabia’s circle of friends:
Marthe Chenal wrote: Ecrire quelque chose, c’est bien !! Se taire, c’est mieux !! ~ Write something, it’s good !! To be silent is better!!
Jean Crotti : MON OEIL EN DEUIL de verre vous regarde – which, in free translation, could mean: MY MOURNING glass EYE is watching you.
Raymond Dorgelès : Non je n’en reste pas baba et je jure chez Picabia que ne n’aime pas Dada ~ No I do not remain baba and I swear at Picabia’s that does not like Dada.
Isadora Duncan : Isadora aime FRANCIS de tout son âme ~ Isadora loves Francis with all her soul.
Darius Milhaud : Je m’appelle DADA depuis 1892 ~ My name is DADA since 1892.
Clément Pansaers : Vive agaga Pansaers. Picabia te souviens-tu de Pharamousse ? – Live agaga Pansaers. Picabia do you remember Pharamousse?
Francis Poulenc : J’aime la salade ~ I love salad.
Hugo François : Je n’ai rien fait et je signe ~ I didn’t do anything and I sign.
Over 50 signatures complete the picture including those of his wife, Gabrièle Buffet, his close friends Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp – the latter signing as his alter ego, Rrose Sélavy (Éros c’est la vie) – and it is here Rrose received a second R for the first time; Tristan Tzara, Ezra Pound; Suzanne Duchamp (Marcel’s sister) wrote: Quand on me prend au dépourvu MOI = Je suis bête – When I’m caught off guard ME = I’m stupid.
It goes on and on, giving shape to truly collective creation.
L’Oeil Cacodylate (The Cacodylic Eye)
Oil on canvas, and a collage of photographs, postcards and cut papers
The work of Francis Picabia will remain our theme for next few days, as we follow the artist’s style shifts through the galleries of MoMA.
Connecting the pieces:
- Rediscovering Francis Picabia @ MoMA [part 1]
- ”If you want to have clean ideas, change them like shirts” ~ Francis Picabia @ MoMA [part 2]
January 30th, 2017