Francis Picabia was born in Paris in 1879 to a French mother, and a Cuban-Spanish father. His mother was to die of tuberculosis when Picabia was seven years old. He studied both at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and under various masters, including Fernand Cormon – who had taught both Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh. Being financially independent upon reaching adulthood and due to some sales of his painting, Picabia was unusually able to both socialize, experiment, and paint. Picabia’s first paintings were Impressionist in Style, and were exhibited in the Salon exhibitions in 1903. Many criticized his work of the period as derivative.
In 1909 Picabia married Gabrielle Buffet. Gradually other influences entered into his work, until he developed a unique style that was a combination of Fauvism, Cubism, Academic Realism, and Neo-Impressionism. Attracted to abstraction, Picabia could be seen as exploring much of the avant-garde of the period and indeed many of his closest circle were leaders of the avant-garde in Paris – Duchamp and Apollinaire amongst them.
Through membership of the Puteaux Group in 1911-1912 Picabia met Fernand Léger, Jean Metzinger and other important painters of the period. He was included in the seminal 1913 Armory Show in New York (biography continues…)