Though born in Guatemala, Carlos Mérida considered himself Mexican. His mixed Spanish and Mayan background is evident in his art. As a painter, he explored a great many techniques and materials. While traveling in Europe at the height of the avant-garde movements there, he took an interest in abstract and constructivist art, and the work of Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, and Vassily Kandinsky in particular. Back in Mexico, he forged ties with muralists like Diego Rivera and worked on important public murals, though his art was more abstract than that of his fellow muralists. Mérida had a career in theater; he was a set and costume designer as well as the first director of the Escuela de Danza de México. Perhaps it was through his interest in the theater that he met actress Berta Singerman, a tie that led to this small oil-on-canvas portrait. In modern and somewhat geometric language, Mérida subtly captures the powerful and melancholy expression on the face of this well-known actress and singer.