The Comit Picabia has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
The most important series of works from the middle of Picabia's career are his transparencies, in which the artist juxtaposes human figures and often incongruous imagery drawing from a wide range of sources.
"Picabia's interest in the concept and techniques of transparency
was not a sudden development. Ultimately it derived from
preoccupations with simultaneity during the epoch of Cubism
and Orphism; more recently he had experimented with
simultaneity/transparency in the film Entr'acte and in a
number of the monster paintings of ca. 1927. But in 1928 his
work evolved into the early mature paintings of a type which
became known as "the transparencies" --a style 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: His Art, Life and Times,
Princeton, 1979, p. 229).
The title Uncana may be derived from arcana, refering to old alchemists's texts. In this work Picabia places a classically posed nude (not without the popular connotations of pin-up art) among a group of deep-sea creatures, creating a bizarre, sexually-charged fantasia on evolutionary theory. Picabia described his transparencies as a stage where he could express "the resemblance of my interior desires... where all my inward instincts may have a free course." (quoted in ibid., pp. 233-234).
The first reception accorded his transparencies in a 1929 exhibition was generally negative; however, Lonce Rosenberg, a dealer who had been hostile to Picabia's Dada work, liked them so much he offered Picabia a deal to show in his gallery and commissioned paintings for his home. Since then Picabia's transparencies have come to be viewed as the most significant achievement in the artist's post-Dada career, and they were an important influence on the Post-Modernist art scene in the 1980s, as evident in the work of David Salle and Sigmar Polke.