In 1928 the work of Picabia evolved into a style of painting which became known as "the transparencies". This style was so named for its "multiple layers of transparent images, although it was also characterized by pervasive moods of wistfulness and melancholy, and by extensive reference to art of the past." (W.A. Camfield, Francis Picabia, New Jersey 1979, p. 229). The reactions of the viewer constantly shift as the perception of one form gives way to the appearance of another overlaid image. Although the critical response to an exhibition which contained many of his 'transparent' works in 1929 was mostly hostile, the film critic Gaston Ravel commented: "The multiple impressions which we have used and abused in our films are here immobilized by a magic brush!....At first glance some confusion perhaps; but, little by little, everything comes clear, slowly...It is a miracle!" ('Exposition de peinture', La critique cinématographique, Paris 29 October, 1929).
Picabia described the 'transparencies' as paintings "where all my instincts may have a free course" (in an exhibition catalogue Exposition Francis Picabia, Paris 1930). His creative instincts clearly drew upon a strong sense of artistic heritage, his transparences closely modelling the work of collagists. In the best of these works Picabia achieves "a fusion of suggestive symbolism and poignant visual experiences that transform his sources into an utterly personal creation" (W.A. Camfield, op. cit., p. 234).