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'I am Failure's Success': Francis Picabia and the Enactment of Refusal

Amirkhani, Jordan Haleh (2015) 'I am Failure's Success': Francis Picabia and the Enactment of Refusal. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.48374) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:48374)

Language: English

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This dissertation provides a critical re-assessment of the oeuvre of Francis Picabia (1879-1953) and assesses the ways the artist worked to resist the accommodation and domestication of his work. It emphasizes the role of negation and refusal in his painting and poetry, and examines his role as Dadaist and polemicist. This dissertation argues that as artists struggled to render art meaningful and sustainable under the totalizing effects of capitalism and modernity in the first half of the twentieth century, Picabia sought to travesty rather than transcend modernity by enacting an extremely nihilistic form of self-criticism and institutional critique. Picabia’s constant change of style and medium, delight in contradiction, elusive social behavior, extreme egoism, and steadfast commitment to the destabilization of intentionality in his work sought to interrupt the colonizing processes of commodification and to tautologically address the paradoxical and contradictory character of securing meaning in a world without meaning.

Divided into five chapters, beginning with Picabia’s affiliation with Puteaux Cubism in Paris in 1911 and ending with a discussion of the final works made before his death in 1953, this dissertation seeks to contextualize major moments of during his career when refusal and negation—even the possible dissolution of his own practice—became the focus of his artistic production. Drawing on the theories of the literary critic Peter Bürger and the Hegelian-Marxist art historian TJ Clark, this study works to come to terms with the strengths, limits, and unresolved ambiguities of Picabia’s willfully antagonistic and conflicted oeuvre and to underscore the critical pressure his work and actions placed on stable narratives of modernism and the conditions that regulate and make meaning available in modern art.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Kear, Jon
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.48374
Additional information: The author of this thesis has requested that it be held under closed access. We are sorry but we will not be able to give you access or pass on any requests for access. 08/03/2022
Uncontrolled keywords: Francis Picabia Dada Modernism Avant-Garde TJ Clark Peter Burger Commodification Nihilism Refusal
Subjects: N Visual Arts > N Visual arts (General). For photography, see TR
N Visual Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 11:00 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2022 15:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Amirkhani, Jordan Haleh.

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