Adam and Eve (1931) - Francis Picabia
Birth: January 22, 1879, Paris, France
Death: November 30, 1953, Paris, France
This enigmatic painting is part of Picabia’s Transparency series (c.1928-31), whose dream-like quality derives from layers of imagery that faintly suggest strange narratives. Though the title of this painting is Adam et Eve (Adam and Eve), it was inspired by Orestes and Electra, a classical Greek sculpture in the Museum of Naples, which portrays Electra and her brother considering revenge on their mother and stepfather for the murder of their father, Agamemnon. Classical subjects such as this were popular in the interwar period, yet most artists attempted to give new life to Classicism by adapting it to modern times. Picabia refuses this temptation, instead leaving the statue enigmatically layered with a smiling face and leaving us with a mystery. This clash of imagery from apparently different sources would be a major inspiration for later artists such as Sigmar Polke.