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Negro Song I

Francis Picabia French

Not on view

In 1913, traveling for the first time to New York for the Armory Show, Francis Picabia was struck by the raw energy of the city, which he considered the epitome of modernity. Describing the city itself as Cubist, he was inspired to create a series of abstract watercolors, exhibited shortly afterward at 291. According to Picabia’s own testimony, the spark for Negro Song I, on view in the exhibition, was an evening at a jazz club, where he heard "black music" for the first time. Repeatedly during the following years, De Zayas paired in his gallery new works by Picabia with African sculptures. Through an almost systematic association of Picabia’s industrial/New York–inspired works with African art, De Zayas acknowledged the tight relationship he perceived between black America, New York’s modernity, and the city’s growing interest in African art.

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