Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction

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Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is the first major exhibition in the U.S. to encompass the full range of Picabia’s audacious, provocative, and profoundly influential career. MoMA’s first-ever monographic exhibition of the artist, Francis Picabia brings together some 200 works in multiple mediums to explore the artist’s critical place in the history of 20th-century art.

Among the great modern artists, Francis Picabia (French, 1879–1953) remains one of the most elusive; he vigorously avoided any one singular style or medium, and his work encompassed painting, performance, poetry, publishing, and film. Though he is best known as one of the leaders of the Dada movement, his career ranged widely—and wildly—from Impressionism to radical abstraction, from Dadaist provocation to pseudo-classicism, and from photo-based realism to art informel. Picabia’s contributions to a diverse range of artistic mediums, along with his consistent inconsistencies, make him especially relevant for contemporary artists, and his career as a whole challenges familiar narratives of modernism.

Francis Picabia—conceived in partnership with the Kunsthaus Zürich, where its presentation is scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Cabaret Voltaire, in 1916—assembles key selections and bodies of work, ranging in date from the first decade of the 20th century through the early 1950s. Picabia’s work as a painter—albeit one whose oeuvre consistently contests the term—will be represented, along with his activities as a publisher and contributor to vanguard journals, and his forays into screenwriting and theater. The core of the exhibition comprises some 125 paintings, along with approximately 45 key works on paper, one film, and a carefully chosen selection of printed matter.

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction is organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Organized by Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and Cathérine Hug, Curator, Kunsthaus Zürich; with Talia Kwartler, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA.

Major support for the New York presentation is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Generous funding is provided by Lawrence B. Benenson.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Paint provided by Farrow & Ball.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund.