Transparency had been an important element in Duchamp’s Large Glass. Picabia used this term to describe the series of grand paintings he made in the late 1920s and early 1930s, consisting of images borrowed from classical and Renaissance art, combined with outlines of hands, animals and flowers.
There was no obvious rationale to Picabia’s selection of images or titles. Some considered this development a retrograde step; others thought he had returned to a belief in ‘great art’. In fact, he seems to have grown bored with modernism, finding it more challenging to re-explore the past. At the same time, his layering of images of different scales echoed aspects of contemporary cinema, and echoed some of the devices used by Man Ray in his photographs of the human figure.