Mouvement PerpetuǸl: Between Figuration and Representation in the Work of Francis Picabia

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Eppley, Charles
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
As an individual whose artistic practice is as enigmatic as his character, the work of Francis Picabia tends to resist conventional notions of the historical avant-garde. Picabia had been clear in his assertion that the fundamental function of art is to represent life, and that one should not only perceive the particularities of the lived life, but to utilize them as a primary productive force - to embrace that perpetual evolution of life that both constructs human experience and engenders imaginative creation. This sentiment underscores Picabia's engagement with the elusive relationship held between the notions of figuration and representation, an engagement that is seen to be a driving force for his practice and an integral aspect of much of his work. As such, the work of Picabia might effectively be interpreted according to the writings of Henri Bergson, and particularly regarding the philosopher's notion of DurǸe (Duration). This work thus seeks to resituate the work and writings of Picabia against established readings of his oeuvre, against the traditional theorizations of the historical avant-garde, and according to the functionality of the creative act in relation to the reception of Henri Bergson amongst the Parisian avant-garde during the interwar period.