Lot Details

Framed size: 14.17 x 13 inches

This work was purchased from a private collection in France several years ago. It had been in the previous owner's possession since the early 1940s. This is the first time this piece has been offered at auction.

Portrait de femme (Marlene Dietrich) is an amazing charcoal portrait by prominent French artist Francis Picabia, prominent French artist and one of the leading figures in Surrealism, Cubism and Dada. Here Picabia depicted one of his muses, German actress and cinema and style icon of the 20th century, Marlene Dietrich. At the center of the page, Marlene Dietrich’s face is masterfully depicted, with sharp lines and shadows perfectly emulating the actress’ stunning and unmistakable bone structure. Dietrich’s head appears as an autonomous form, detached and floating in space, steering the work into the realm of the surreal. The union of the subject matter, essentially a disparate head, with the sexual allusions of her facial features makes this portrait somewhat disturbing, as it mixes themes of beauty with death, both recurring subjects throughout Picabia’s oeuvre.

Paris-born Francis Picabia (1879-1953), a colleague of Marcel Duchamp, exhibited in the original—1913—Armory Show in New York. He denounced Dada in 1921 and famously attacked the Surrealists and André Breton in 1924. Today, the artist is known for his polemicist humor and his juxtaposition of words and letters in his compositions.

Selected public collections:
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Tate Gallery, London, UK

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The seller has recorded the following condition for this lot:
Biological Degradation / Decay / Deterioration
Overall Yes
Date: Unavailable – contact Specialist for details
Notes: This piece is in overall good condition with slightly discolored paper and a few small signs of foxing.

Definition Key
Image The central image area, composition, or focal point; the area inside the margins/plate marks.
Margin Areas bordering the central image, outside the plate marks, or the perimeter area.
Edge The farthest edge of the object.
Verso The reverse/back of the object.

Minor An existing condition which generally does not involve risk of loss.
Moderate Noticeable damage, increasing in severity and/or size; should be monitored or corrected by a conservator.
Major Distinct, recognizable damage; the stability of the work is questionable and risk is a factor. Requires the attention of a conservator.
Extreme Advanced and severe damage; work is insecure and at great risk.

  • Private collection, France
  • Ships From: Indiana, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 13.39 x 11.8 in. (34.01 x 29.97 cm.)

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