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Throughout his career, Francis Picabia painted images of Spain – or at least a fantasy of it. Some of these paintings are canonical. Others remain a marginal, even within the specialist scholarship. None more so than the Espagnloes, kitsch images of Spanish women in folkloric costume, that have long been dismissed as a frivolous sideline.
This paper argues that the Espagnoles are an integral part of Picabia’s practice and that the ‘Spanishness’ of his paintings – how they articulate and relate to notions of Spain – deserves more serious consideration than it has customarily been given. Doing so helps bring stylistically disparate aspects of Picabia’s practice into dialogue, challenging some of the formalist frameworks and contextual narratives that currently surround his career. The paper concludes by outlining the enabling fictions supporting Picabia’s vision of Spain: the Carmen myth, the postcard and the tourist’s gaze.
Dr Simon Marginson
Dr Simon Marginson is an independent scholar and curatorial researcher. He was recently awarded a PhD for his thesis, Francis Picabia: The Espagnoles. His writings on the artist have appeared in the journal Dada/Surrealism and the exhibition catalogue Picasso/Picabia: La peinture au défi. He is the editor of the forthcoming exhibition catalogue The Expressive Mark, on mid-century abstract painting in Britain.