In 1922, Francis Picabia moved away from Dadaist proposals to present his new works at Barcelona’s Dalmau gallery. This was a series of very stripped-down pieces that show an innovative plastic concept based on geometry and developed from the circle. In the historical Dalmau exhibition, alongside works with roots in Figurative art Picabia included other paintings in the Geometric Abstraction style such as Totalisateur (Totalizer), which comes from a very significant stage in the artist’s output. Totalisateur is a perfect example of this stage when Picabia was creating very enigmatic work, focusing on machines and mechanisms, almost always with a deliberately provocative sexual symbolism. As a result of his knowledge of Freudian theory – and without overlooking the decisive influence of Duchamp’s Le grand verre (The Large Glass) on his output at the time – these mechanistic works display an obvious interest in expressing sexual procedures through a formal language taken from mechanics.
Paloma Esteban Leal
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