Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon

Paul Signac, 1890
Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon, Paul Signac
Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon, zoomed in
73.5 cmPortrait of M. Félix Fénéon scale comparison92.5 cm

Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon is a Post-Impressionist Oil on Canvas Painting created by Paul Signac in 1890. It lives at the MOMA, Museum of Modern Art in New York. The image is in the Public Domain, and tagged Portraits. SourceDownloadSee Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in the Kaleidoscope

This fantastical portrait by Paul Signac has an extremely long title and a very strange subject. Called “Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890”—the portrait casts its sitter as a sort of circus ringleader. A tall, goat-bearded man with short hair and impossibly high cheekbones holds a delicate cyclamen flower in front of him like an offering to an imagined lover. He wears a long coat and carries a cane and jaunty tophat, and we have no idea where he is. Instead of a street scene behind him or a dimly lit interior, the 29 year old Félix Fénéon stands in front of a swirling, hallucinogenic vortex of color, pattern, and texture. It’s a very weird picture.

The wild backdrop is made weirder on learning that Félix Fénéon was not a carnival barker or tap-dancing showman. Fénéon was a cultural critic, curator, journalist, dandy, and according to the Parisian police, an illusive and extremely dangerous anarchist.

Reed Enger, "Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon," in Obelisk Art History, Published July 27, 2022; last modified October 03, 2022, http://www.arthistoryproject.com/artists/paul-signac/portrait-of-m-felix-feneon/.

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