Known for his meticulous dress and unusual goatee, French art critic Félix Fénéon gained a reputation as a dandy among his peers. In this painting, whose full title is Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones and Tinits, Portrait of M Félix Fénéon in 1890, Paul Signac set the critic’s static profile against a swirling background– a kaleidoscopic reference to optical theorist Charles Henry’s recently published color wheel. The wordy title is a spoof on the exceedingly long titles that Henry and his fellow scientists gave to their studies. Though Fénéon professed to dislike it, he kept the portrait for the rest of his life.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.