Francis Picabia
The Fig-Leaf 1922

Artwork details

Francis Picabia 1879–1953
The Fig-Leaf
La Feuille de vigne
Date 1922
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 2000 x 1600 mm
frame (without perspex box): 2062 x 1663 x 70 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1984
Not on display

Display caption

Picabia painted The Fig-Leaf using glossy household paint over another work entitled Hot Eyes. The original painting, which was based on a technical drawing of a turbine brake, caused a scandal when submitted for an important Paris exhibition in 1921. The figure in the new image is derived from Oedipus and the Sphinx (1808), a neo-classical painting by Ingres, with Picabia’s addition of a fig-leaf (the French say ‘vine leaf’) as a reference to censorship. The inscription DESSIN FRANÇAIS (‘French drawing’) sarcastically mocked the contemporary revival of interest in traditional art skills.

July 2008

About this artwork