Against the common view that appropriation—of images, words, and machines—was the surest mark of Francis Picabia's modernism, Verdier posits that Picabia's constant reuse of visual and textual material was a melancholic symptom. Many of Picabia's pronouncements were, in fact, the very condemnation of his own system opposing the hand and the machine. Drawing from this analysis, Verdier argues that Picabia's art was never unambiguously modern nor reactionary; it was instead what Freud called “reactional.”

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