27 May 2011

Tee hee

On appearances alone the probability of sexual content [in French impetuosity] cannot be overlooked as the phallic shape thrusts into an opening defined by the looping lines and concentric bands. The title causes some pause by attributing impetuosity to the female, but that may have been Picabia's intent. In fact, the male part can be seen, not as the aggressive element, but as a dumb, defenceless form drawn into a trap bristling with aggressive objects.

Whatever Picabia's intent with French impetuosity, this watercolour does appear to be charged with sexual content which had become a major ingredient of his work since early 1913. Then and later those themes revealed a man who sometimes viewed himself as a passive victim of sex, but was more often burdened with an insatible desire for woman as mother, muse, and mistress.

Yet his paintings rarely operated as indulgent autobiographical documents; the conditions of his personal life were transformed into abstract compositions suggestive of more universal longings, frustration, and despair.
Now, if you can be arsed, go and read the quote in this post, except where it says 'lyric poetry' read 'Picabia's abstract paintings of 1913–14'. (It is also worth noting in this context that Apollinaire made 'an intriguing, unexplained reference' to Picabia's 'painted poems' in his article 'Simultanisme-Libbrettisme' in June 1914.)

It is always nice to have one of one's mad theories confirmed. It makes up for when others get destroyed.

And, incidentally, this transformation of the quotidian into the universal is a major connection between Picabia and Piero – that and certain stylistic affinities.

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