Francis Picabia, Portrait of Mistinguett, ca. 1908–11. Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 × 19 3/8 inches (60 × 49.2 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 66.1801 © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Artwork Description & Analysis: The style of this portrait, with its simplified forms and flat color, blends aspects of Symbolism and Fauvism and is typical of Picabia’s maturing style as he began to try his hand at different approaches. Painted at a time when he was slowly building a conventional, successful career as an Impressionist, it might be taken as a sign of Picabia’s frequent later habit of striking out in new and surprising directions. The model for the picture, Mistinguett, was a successful actress and singer, and was one of Picabia’s first famous friends from the entertainment industry (she was at one time the lover of Maurice Chevalier). Independently wealthy, Picabia enjoyed the life of the bon viveur and was often drawn to music halls, nightclubs, circuses, and the cinema. He met Mistinguett during one of his visits to the Parisian revues. Instead of painting a realistic portrayal of her, he was much more interested in revealing the mood of the time by using dramatic color and composition.