Picabia, Francis, 1918

Oil on canvas, 53,5 x 38 cm, Henie-Onstad Art Center

The painting Ventilateur from 1918, by the French artist Francis Picabia (1879-1953), is the first acquisition towards our aim to build a prominent collection of different Dadaists and Surrealists. The painting will be on permanent display at Henie Onstad Art Center just outside of Oslo.

The beginning of Dada corresponds to the outbreak of World War I. Writers, artists and intellectuals of Dada responded harshly to the atrocities of the war and felt a strong desire to protest against the bourgeois society for which they considered responsible for the war. In the beginning of the 1920s Surrealism grew out of Dadaism and many of the Dada artists became surrealists, among them Picabia.

Around World War I, Picabia spent a lot of time in New York. While he was there, he became fascinated by the machine, viewing it as a symbol of modernity. As a result, he started making machinist compositions where he used the machine as a kind of metaphor and a starting point for portraying human relations, Ventilateur is an excellent example of these works.

The Savings Bank Foundation DNB wants to build a collection of Dadaists and Surrealists because we want to contribute to a more meaningful context to our substantial collection of the German artist Kurt Schwitters, which is also on permanent display at the Henie Onstad Art Center. Schwitters has close links to the Dadaists and this particular painting by Picabia is very relevant in connection with Schwitters’ works from the same period.

Ventilateur by Picabia will be on permanent display at Henie Onstad Art Center.