Art of the 20th Century



A Revolution in the Arts

 



Art Styles in 20th century Art Map

 


 

The Great Avant-garde Movements


 



Surrealist Art




 

Preface

CHAPTER ONE

Precursors

CHAPTER TWO

Anti-art

CHAPTER THREE

Conquest of the marvellous

CHAPTER FOUR

Surrealism and painting

CHAPTER FIVE

Towards a revolutionary art

CHAPTER SIX

Across the world

CHAPTER SEVEN

The object

CHAPTER EIGHT

Festivals of the imagination

CHAPTER NINE

In the United States

CHAPTER TEN

Surrealist architecture

CHAPTER ELEVEN

The post-war period

CHAPTER TWELVE

Occultation
 

 

 

 

 

*
see also:

Surrealism - 1924

Max Ernst
"A Week of Kindness" (A surrealistic novel in collage)

EXPLORATION:
Rene Magritte "Thought rendered visible"

EXPLORATION:
Salvador Dali

EXPLORATION:
Surrealism  "The Dream of Revolution"

*
 


Max Ernst
At the Rendezvous of Friends
1922
Seated from left to right: Rene Crevel, Max Ernst, Dostoyevsky, Theodore Fraenkel, Jean Paulhan, Benjamin Peret, Johannes T. Baargeld, Robert Desnos. Standing: Philippe Soupault, Jean Arp, Max Morise, Raphael, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Giorgio de Chirico, Gala Eluard

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 



Surrealism and painting


Max Ernst

Max Ernst "A Week of Kindness" (A surrealistic novel in collage)

Andre Masson
Joan Miro
Yves Tanguy

Georges Malkine

Jean Arp
Man Ray

Georges Hugnet
E.L.T. Mesens
 

 

When he published Le Surrealisme et la peinture in 1928, Andre Breton's intention was to give a decisive answer to those who still doubted the existence of surrealist painting, or who did not fully realize what freedoms it should claim for itself. He immediately broadened the debate and carried it into the field of mental adventure. 'I find it impossible to think of a picture save as a window, and my first concern about a window is to find out what it looks out on. . . and there is nothing I love so much as something which stretches away from me out of sight.' In unambiguous language he urged painters no longer to draw their inspiration from reality, even from a transfigured reality. 'Because they believed that man is able only to reproduce a more or less felicitous image of the object which concerns him, painters have been far too conciliatory in their choice of models. Their mistake has been to believe either that a model could be derived only from the exterior world, or that it could be derived from there at all. ... This is an unforgivable abdication. ... If the plastic arts are to meet the need for a complete revision of real values, a need on which all minds today are agreed, they must therefore either seek a purely interior model or cease to exist.'

To establish what this 'interior model' was, Breton defined 'the attitude of some men who have genuinely rediscovered the reason for painting'. These were Picasso, Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Miro, Tanguy, Arp, Picabia, Man Ray : in other words the first pioneers of the surrealist plastic arts. He casually rejected Matisse and Derain, 'old lions, discouraged and discouraging', and Braque, 'a great refugee', because they attached too much importance to what they saw. 'To see or to hear is nothing. To recognize (or not to recognize) is everything.... What I love includes what I love to recognize and what I love not to recognize. I believe that surrealism has raised itself up to the conception of this most fervent of all relationships, and has abided by it.'

Max Ernst was the only one of these painters to have taken a real part in the formation of surrealism. Shortly after his arrival in Paris in 1922, he painted At the Rendezvous of Friends (Hamburg, private collection), which showed the Litterature group after the dissolution of Dada. Ernst's qualities of inspired imagination, full of ferocity and humour, had always led him to take pleasure in cultivating visions of the half-sleeping, half-waking state. As a child he had seen in the pattern of a mahogany panel in his bedroom 'a huge bird's head with thick black hair'. When he was a young man, he sometimes saw, as he fell asleep, a transparent woman standing at the toot of his bed. She wore a red robe, and her skeleton showed through like filigree work. These faculties for seeing visions led to his invention in 1919 of collage, a technique vastly different from the papiers colle's which had been done by others before him.


Max Ernst

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born April 2, 1891, Brühl, Ger.
died April 1, 1976, Paris, Fr.

German painter, sculptor, one of the leading advocates of irrationality in art, and an originator of the Automatism movement of Surrealism. His youthful interests were psychiatry andphilosophy, but he abandoned his studies at the University of Bonn for painting.

After serving in the German army during World War I, Ernst was converted to Dada (q.v.), a nihilistic art movement, and formed a group of Dada artists in Cologne; with the artist-poet Jean Arp, he edited journals and created a scandal by staging a Dada exhibit in a public rest room. More important, however, were his Dada collages and photomontages, such as “Here Everything Is Still Floating” (1920), a startlingly illogical composition made from cutout photographs of insects, fish, and anatomical drawings ingeniously arranged to suggest the multiple identity of the things depicted.

In 1922 Ernst moved to Paris, where, two years later, he became a founding member of the Surrealists, a group of artists and writers whose work grew out of fantasies evoked from the unconscious. To stimulate the flow of imagery from his unconscious mind, Ernst began in 1925 to use the techniques of frottage (pencil rubbings of such things as wood grain, fabric, or leaves) and decalcomania (the technique of transferring paint from one surface to another by pressing the two surfaces together). Contemplating the accidental patterns and textures resulting from these techniques, he allowed free association to suggest images he subsequently used in a series of drawings (“Histoire naturelle,” 1926) and in many paintings such as “The Great Forest” (1927) and “The Temptation of St. Anthony” (1945). These vast, swamplike landscapes stem ultimately from the tradition of nature mysticism of the German Romantics.

After 1934 Ernst's activities centred increasingly on sculpture, using improvised techniques in this medium just as he had in painting. “Oedipus II” (1934), for example, was cast from a stack of precariously balanced wooden pails to form a belligerent-looking phallic image.

At the outbreak of World War II, Ernst moved to the United States, where he joined his third wife, the collector and gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim, and his son, the American painter Jimmy Ernst. While living on Long Island, N.Y., and after 1946 in Sedona, Ariz. (with his fourth wife, the Americanpainter Dorothea Tanning), he concentrated on such sculptures as “The King Playing with the Queen” (1944), which shows African influence. After his return to France in 1949, his work became less experimental: he spent much time perfecting his modeling technique in traditional sculptural materials.


Max Ernst
Loplop Introduces Members of the Surrealist Group, 1931
 

 

Ernst began by using figures clipped from illustrated catalogues, and moved on to 'the alchemy of the visual image', working on a principle which he defined as 'the exploitation of the chance meeting of two remote realities on a plane unsuitable to them'. Paintings like Edipus Rex (1921, Paris, Hersaint collection), The Revolution by Night (1923, London, Roland Penrose collection) and Men shall know nothing of it (1923, London, Tate Gallery) were built up in the same way as his collages. In Two children are threatened by a nightingale (1924, New York, Museum of Modern Art), his painting,even included some real objects fastened to the canvas : a bell push and a little door. It was with some justice that he was able to say : 'If plumes make plumage, it is not glue (colle) that makes collage.'


Max Ernst
The Revolution by Night


Max Ernst
Men shall know nothing of it

 


Max Ernst
Two children are threatened by a nightingale
 


Max Ernst
The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard and the artist

His pictorial work would have been limited had it not been for his discovery of frottage, which gave him a means of self-liberation. On 10 August 1925, in a seaside inn, he was seized by an obsession with the grooves in the graining of the floorboards. He placed a piece of paper on the boards and rubbed it with blacklead so as to obtain a tracing. And from this tracing an image arose whose shape became clear to him. Frottages suggested to him forests, pampas, hordes of animals, heads. He brought these together in his collection Histoire Naturelle published in Paris in 1926. From this time on he regarded frottage as 'the true equivalent of what we already know as automatic writing . He made frottages from all sorts of materials as well as from floorboards : the leaves of trees, the unwound thread from a spool, the ragged edges or a piece of cloth. He also used this technique in painting, by scraping a canvas thickly covered in wet paint, or by placing it on a rough surface. He justified this technique by saying : 'The artist is a spectator, indifferent or impassioned, at the birth of his work, and observes the phases of its development.' Whatever the justification, what he gained from the use of this technique in paintings such as The Bride of the Wind (1926), and Carnal delight complicated by visual representations (1931), moved him towards the materialization of the imaginary, which liberated his paintings from the imitation of his collages. The 'artist as spectator' theme reappears in a purely painterly variation on the Virgin and Child theme which is one of his most famous (or notorious) works.

 


Max Ernst

Natural History
1923
 



 

See also:

 

Max Ernst




"A Week of Kindness"




(A surrealistic novel in collage)
 

 



One spring day in 1924, Andre Breton visited the studio of Andre Masson at 45 Rue Blomet. He had just bought Masson's picture The Four Elements, and wanted to meet the painter. Masson has admitted : 'There have been few men whose first impression on me has been one which compelled such respect.' After their conversation, Masson immediately went over to surrealism. He was twenty-eight, and he was the focal point of a group which included Michel Leiris, Antonin Artaud, Armand Salacrou and Georges Limbour. As a result of a serious war wound he had been under observation in psychiatric hospitals, and he was now in permanent revolt against society. He had a lively and intelligent mind, which had been nourished on Nietzsche, Heraclitus and the German romantics. He wanted to create in order to explain the universe, and tried to put 'a philosophy into a picture'. No one painted with more violence, more fury even, than Masson, for he used every possible method to invoke a state of trance. He used also what were known as 'support words' : while he worked he would say aloud words like 'attraction', 'transmutation', 'fall', whirling'. At other times he sang. It one of his canvases failed
to satisfy him, he flung himself at it and slashed savagely with a knife. 'One must get some physical idea of revolution', he told his friends. His disorder and anarchy became legendary. He earned his living by working at night as a proof-reader on the Journal Officiel. He filled himself with sleeping drugs and strong stimulants, which shattered his nerves.


Andre Masson

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Jan. 4, 1896, Balagny, Oise,Fr.
died Oct. 28, 1987, Paris

In full André-aimé-rené Masson noted French Surrealist painter and graphic artist.

Masson studied painting in Brussels and then in Paris. He fought in World War I and was severely wounded. He joined the emergent Surrealist group in the mid-1920s after one of his paintings had attracted the attention of the movement's leader, André Breton. Masson soon became the foremost practitioner of automatic writing, which, when applied to drawing, was a form of spontaneous composition intended to express impulses and images arising directly from the unconscious. Masson's paintings and drawings from the late 1920s and the '30s are turbulent, suggestive renderings of scenes of violence, eroticism, and physical metamorphosis. A natural draftsman, he used sinuous, expressive lines to delineate biomorphic forms that border on the totally abstract. Masson lived in Spain from 1934 to 1936 and in the United States during World War II. His work was the subject of major retrospective exhibitions in Basel, Switz, (1950) and New York City (1976).


Andre Masson
Battle of Fishes
 




Andre Masson
Automatic Drawing
1924

From 1925 on, his automatic drawings showed the power of his outbursts of passion. His paintings, obsessed by two themes, the sun and the destiny of animals, expressed the tragedy of natural instincts in the form of myth. When he was painting Horses devouring the birds, he announced wildly : 'I will make the birds bleed'. He tried to give this immolation the feeling of an antique sacrifice. As painting did not allow him enough freedom, in 1927 he began making pictures with sand. The gesture with which he scattered the sand over a glue-coated canvas, and added a flashing brushstroke, amounted to a ritual. He began to introduce materials such as feathers into his paintings. When he parted company with the surrealists, from 1929 to 1936, his development did not change for the worse. He went, on in a similar spirit, intensified by his friendship with the philosopher Georges Bataille, to his series of Massacres and Abattoirs (1931), for which he made sketches in the slaughterhouses at La Villette and Vaugirard. His painting took on a multiplicity of forms - some dealt with the theme of abduction and pursuit, others evoked a journey he made on foot to Spain in 1934, yet others described insect revels, or burst out into scenes of delirium, the best example of which is In the Tower of Sleep (1938), or surrealistically explored the human figure. All had the same aim, a fervent desire to give a carnal presence to the sensation of the Cosmos. But above all, Masson drew. He drew tirelessly : series which made up chronicles, such as his Mythologies (1936), magnificent drawings in which eroticism, cruelty and sacred dedication reach a scale of epic grandeur. Some of Masson's paintings may be disappointing; his drawings never. He is a passionate interpreter of the metamorphoses of Nature, the paroxysms of Being.
 


Andre Masson
The Tower of Sleep

 

 

Joan Miro had the studio next to Masson in the Rue Blomet. Masson's virulence encouraged Miro's cautious and meticulous development. Miro had said of the cubists : 'I will break their guitar'. Since his first exhibition in Barcelona in 1918, he had constantly exerted pressure on reality, in the landscapes, portraits, nudes and still-lifes of what has been called his detailliste period. After paintings like The Farm (1921-2) and The Ear of Corn (1923, New York, Museum of Modern Art), he felt that he had come to a dead end. Then in the summer of 1923, when he was on one of his visits to his family at Montroig, he began to paint Ploughed land (Philadelphia, H. Clifford collection). Suddenly reality yielded place to the imaginary - the pine tree opened its eyes and cocked an ear, animals began to look like plants and seashells.

At the time that his style was changing, he wrote to his friend Ratols : 'I confess that I am often gripped by panic, the kind of panic that is felt by an explorer travelling through virgin territory'. He confided to Rafols his desire 'to express precisely all the golden sparks of our soul'. This tendency is accentuated still further in Olee (1924), and particularly in The Carnival of Harlequin (1924, Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery). This is an extraordinary fancy-dress ball, where not only human beings, but also animals and everyday objects, are wearing masks. An entire landscape has put on a disguise. Then Miro asked Masson : 'Should I go to see Picabia or Breton?' Masson replied without hesitation : 'Picabia is already the past. Breton will be the future.'
 


Joan Miro
Harlequin's Carnival
1924
 

 

Miro's exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in June 1925 was an official surrealist event. The invitation was signed by all the members of the group, and the preface to the catalogue was written by Benjamin Peret. The private view took place at midnight, and was a great success.

From this time on, Miro began to play. He played a wild, distracted game with signs which he scattered on monochrome backgrounds of grey, blue or white. A dotted line and a blob were enough for him to create astonishing effects, as in Head of Catalan Peasant (1925), Person throwing a stone at a bird (1925, New York, Museum of Modern Art), The Grasshopper (1926), Dog howling at the moon (1926). Although he claimed to want to 'murder painting', in his case this would have had to be a crime passionel, for no painter has ever produced his work with greater love than Miro. He painted as naturally as a flower blossoms. He used all materials and techniques with equal virtuosity. He painted on black paper, on glass paper, on card, on wood, on sacking, on copper, on masonite. He used egg tempera, pastel colour, either powdered or mixed with indian ink ; he made poem-pictures, picture-objects, drawing-collages and wooden constructions. He produced stunning parodies of old pictures; his three Dutch interiors, painted in 1928, are interpretations of pictures he had seen in Holland, such as The Cat's Dancing Lesson by Jan Steen. Various Imaginary portraits (1929) include a Portrait of a Lady in 1820, after Constable. In 1934 he began his 'wild paintings which make monsters arise'. Breton wrote : 'He could pass for the most 'surrealist' of us all'. Until 1937, when he went through a short crisis which drove him to paint from life at the Grande Chaumiere, and to paint the apocalyptic Still-life with old shoe (James Thrall Soby collection), it was always Miro who created the finest fireworks of surrealism.
 


Joan Miro
Person Throwing a Stone at a Bird

1926
 


Joan Miro

Dutch Interior I

1928
 

Joan Miro

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born April 20, 1893, Barcelona, Spain
died Dec. 25, 1983, Palma, Majorca, Spain

Catalan artist, one of the foremost exponents of abstract art and Surrealist fantasy. The influence of Paul Klee is apparent in his “dream pictures” and “imaginary landscapes” of the late 1920s. His mature style evolved from the tension between thisfanciful, poetic impulse and his vision of the harshness of modern life. He worked extensively in lithography and produced numerous murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces.
Miró's father was a watchmaker and goldsmith. Both the artisan tradition and the austere Catalan landscape were of great importance to his art.
Miró's artistic development did not progress with the directness of his countryman Picasso, who could draw like a master while still a boy. Instead of being allowed to go to an art school, Miró was expected to complete high school, though he failed to do so. He then attended a commercial college and worked for two years as a clerk in an office, until he had a mental and physical breakdown. His parents took him for convalescence to an estate, Montroig, near Tarragona, which they bought especially for this purpose, and finally allowed him to attend an art school in Barcelona. His teacher at this school, Francisco Galí, showed a great understanding of his 18-year-old pupil, advising him to touchthe objects he was about to draw, a procedure that strengthened Miró's feeling for the spatial quality of objects. Galí also introduced his pupil to examples of the latest schools of modern art from Paris as well as to the buildings of Antonio Gaudí, Barcelona's famous Art Nouveau architect.

Whereas artists of the contemporary Fauve and Cubist schools deliberately attempted to destroy the canons of tradition in order to attain a new kind of pristine vision, Miró possessed such a vision naturally. In his paintings and drawings he sought above all to establish means of metaphorical expression—that is, to discover signs that stand for concepts of nature in a transcendent, poetic sense. He wanted to depict nature as it would be depicted by a primitive man or a child equipped with the intelligence of a 20th-century adult; in this respect, he had much in common with the Surrealists and Dadaists, two other schools of modern artists who were striving to achieve similar aims by more intellectual means than Miró used. Miró's art developedslowly from his first clumsy attempts at expression to the apparently playful masterpieces of his later period. His fanatical honesty and his conscientious craftsmanship compelled him to work on many of his pictures for years.
From 1915 to 1919 Miró worked in Barcelona, at Montroig, and on Majorca, painting landscapes, portraits, and nudes in which his interest centred on the rhythmic interplay of volumes and areas of colour. His colours were still dark and heavy, though he delineated details as if superimposing on aheavy earthly ground a filigree of luminous leaves and blossoms. His manner was the same in landscapes, portraits,and nudes.
Miró was one of the many artists who made their way from abroad to Paris during the first two decades of the 20th century and enriched French painting, which was to influencethe art of the whole world. Most of these foreign artists elected to become Frenchmen after coming into contact with the French artistic metropolis, but Miró remained attached tohis Catalan homeland, in his choice both of dwelling places and of subjects for his pictures.

From 1919 onward Miró lived alternately in Spain and Paris. In the paintings he produced in the period between World Wars I and II—the great still lifes, landscapes, and phantasmagorias set free from both space and time—he gradually removed the objects he portrayed from their natural context and reassembled them as if in accordance with a new, mysterious grammar, creating a ghostly, eerie impression.
From 1925 to 1928, under the influence of the Dadaists, Surrealists, and Paul Klee, he painted “dream pictures” and “imaginary landscapes” in which the linear configurations and patches of colour look almost as though they were set down randomly. After a trip to The Netherlands, where he studied the 17th-century Dutch realist painters in the museums, the figurative elements in his pictures once more assumed a firmer shape. But, when a tendency toward beautiful, tasteful forms emerged in his works, he countered it with more brutal signs, collages, and objects made up of the waste products of industry.
By the 1930s Miró's artistic horizons were expanding. He designed decor for ballets. His paintings began to be exhibited regularly in French and American galleries. In 1934he designed tapestries, and that led to an interest in the monumental and in murals.
At the time of the Spanish political turmoil and Civil War in the late 1930s, Miró was living in Paris. In their demonic expressiveness, his pictures of this period mirrored the fearsand horrors of those years. At the Paris World Exhibition of 1937, he painted for the pavilion of the Spanish Republic a mural, “The Reaper,” containing a strong element of social criticism.

During World War II Miró returned to Spain, where he painted his “Constellations,” a series of small works that constitute symbols of the happy collaboration of everything creative, of the elements and the cosmos. They represent a challenge to the anonymous powers of corruption in social and politicallife, the cause of misery and wars. During the last year of the war, Miró, together with his potter friend Artigas, produced ceramics that revealed a new impetuosity of expression.

From 1948 onward he once more divided his time between Spain and Paris. That year saw the start of the series of very poetic works the symbols of which were based on the theme of woman, bird, and star. Pictures wildly spontaneous in character came into being alongside others whose forms were executed with punctilious craftsmanship. Both approaches were also combined in Miró's sculptures; in themall his earlier figurations were happily amalgamated to form erotic fetishes or signals towering into space.
In the years following World War II, Miró became world famous; his sculptures, drawings, and paintings were exhibited in many countries. In 1950 he painted a wall for Harvard University. His ceramic experiments were crowned by the great ceramic wall in the UNESCO building in Paris (1958), for which he received the Great International Prize of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. In 1962 Paris honoured him with the first major exhibition of his collected works in the National Museum of Modern Art. The architect José Luis Sert built for him on Majorca the large studio of which he had dreamed all his life. Among his later works were several monumental sculptures, such as those executed for Chicago and for Houston, Texas. In 1980, in conjunction with his receipt of Spain's Gold Medal of Fine Arts, a plaza in Madrid was named in Miró's honour.

In spite of his fame, however, Miró continued to devote himself exclusively to looking and creating. A taciturn, introverted man of short stature, Miró had not found it easy to attain the wisdom permeated by irony that ultimately characterized his work. From his youth, he had felt compelledby an almost anarchic obstinacy to keep his eyes firmly fixed on his goal despite the resistance he met from society or from the prevailing artistic theories. His late works manifest an even greater simplification of figure and background than his early ones. In order to realize his inner visions, it had become enough for Miró to set down a dot and a sensitive line on a sea-blue surface; in this the spectator could still find himself in a state of total enchantment. His early works anticipated the representational techniques of his later style; thus, although the former playful or aggressive irony gave way to a quasi-religious meditation, all of his works form a coherent whole manifested by a common quality of rejuvenation and deepening.

Walter Erben
 

 

It has been said that Pablo Picasso was influenced by Miro's example. Strictly speaking, Picasso had no surrealist period; but there are several periods in which his development approaches surrealism. Breton considered that Picasso first showed a real interest in surrealism in 1926; in Le Surrealisme et la peinture, he took Picasso as the supreme guide. 'If surrealism ever comes to adopt a line of moral conduct, it has only to accept the discipline that Picasso has accepted and will continue to accept. In saying this, I am setting very severe standards.'

Indeed, the surrealists regarded Picasso's period of 'analytical cubism', which included paintings like The Accordeon Player (1911, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), as the beginning of a new form of vision. Paul Eluard wrote : 'After perpetual wanderings through dark or dazzling rooms, the irrational took its first rational step with Picasso's paintings, which have been given the derisory label of ''cubist"; that first step was at last a raison d'etre.' La Revolution Surrealiste reproduced one of his pen drawings made up of dots connected by lines. His Dinard period in 1928 and 1929, his 'Bathers (c. 1930), like prehistoric apparitions, his metal Constructions of 1930-1, and his sand reliefs of 1933, bear witness to the close links which bound him to the surrealist family.

 

Yves Tanguy, who at the time claimed to be more a surrealist than a painter, had spent his childhood at Locronan, in the far west of Brittany, and had been to sea as a cadet in the Merchant Navy. He was a melancholic character, in search of amusement and excitement, and his sea-inspired dreams of adventure, his memories or the Breton beaches, and his Celtic background were the reasons which prompted his escape into the marvellous. In Paris, Tanguy shared quarters with Jacques Prevert and Maurice Duhamel at 54 Rue du Chateau in Montparnasse, which has become a legend because of the fantasy which reigned there.

Tanguy started by doing humorous drawings which he exhibited in 1924 with the Montmartre illustrators Gus Bota, Chas Laborde, Daragnes and Vertes. His first painting was of the wall of the Sante prison, done in the manner of Chirico. He had caught a glimpse of a Chirico painting in a gallery window from the platform of a bus, and had been dazzled by it. He met Robert Desnos in 1925, and was introduced by him into the surrealist group. In 1926 he painted The Storm (Philadelphia, Museum of Art), and then Genesis. The works of this initial period, which are very different from the later style for which he is known, describe fluid, airy spaces where imponderable elements are suspended in the air. Goblins appear and disappear in a troubled atmosphere, a circle of mad sprites forms in the invisible.
 


Yves Tanguy
The Storm
 

 

He came back to earth with such works as The Promontory Palace (1930, Venice, Peggy Guggenheim collection). In this, and in such later paintings as Infinite divisibility (1942) and The Rapidity of Sleep (1945), he travelled to a shore where strange minerals held council, and where horizons which awoke a sense of the infinite receded before the eyes. He painted like a sleepwalker, allowing the growth of images which were made even more mysterious by the fact that he never felt any need to explain them even to himself. His titles, which he often asked his friends to suggest, are not commentaries on the paintings. Without wishing to be so, Tanguy was the Watteau of surrealism ; his pictures are 'Conversations' and 'fetes galantes' in which inanimate forms take on the roles of men and women who have gathered together for the pleasures of the dream.
 

 


Yves Tanguy
Infinite divisibility

Yves Tanguy

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Jan. 5, 1900, Paris, France
died Jan. 15, 1955, Waterbury, Conn., U.S.

French-born American painter who made a highly individual contribution to Surrealism.

After sailing with the merchant marine in his youth, Tanguy in 1922 returned to Paris, where he lived a Bohemian life andsearched for a vocation. In 1923 a painting by Giorgio de Chirico that he saw in an art gallery made such a strong impression on him that he immediately took up painting. He joined the Surrealists in 1925, and he subsequently participated in all the Surrealists' major exhibitions. He visited the United States in 1939 and settled there, becominga U.S. citizen in 1948.

Though he had no formal art training, Tanguy had found his own unique style of painting by 1927. His paintings depict groups of strange, unidentifiable objects that resemble marine invertebrates or sculpturesque rock formations. These ambiguous forms are painted with smooth, painstaking detail and are set in barren, brightly lit landscapes that have an infinite horizon and a timeless, dreamlike quality. After Tanguy resettled in the United States, the objects in his paintings took on a more metallic appearance. Tanguy's eerie and illogical paintings made himthe artist most faithful to Surrealist precepts.
 






Jean Arp
Automatic Drawing
1918

In 1925 Arp came to Paris and moved into a studio in the Cite des Fusains, 22 Rue Tourlaque, where among his neighbours were Max Ernst, Paul Eluard, and later Miro. He began to write poems in French ; previously he had written in Alsatian or German. Arp was a man of lively wit and a beautifully precise inventive sense. When he was a child, he had painted the lower part of his window panes blue, so that the houses that he looked out on would seem to be floating in the sky. On another occasion he cut a rectangular hole through the wall of a wooden hut, and put a picture frame round it. Then he invited his father to come and admire the 'landscape' he had created ; the opening looked out on a rural scene. During the Dada period, his objects set the public by the ears. There was the Glove (le Gant), which was a hat intended to be worn by the Gantleman, not on, but in place of, his head; there was the Navel Bottle, a monstrous household object. Arp brought to surrealism the grace of his carved and painted wood reliefs - Painted wood, Semi-Colon, Endless Moustache, Configuration.

In 1926 he left Paris and set up house at Meudon with Sophie Taeuber. He went over completely to sculpture, and built up a repertoire of 'cosmic shapes' (the egg, breasts, the human head, the bell, and so on) which he used in his Concretions. In 1931 he showed his papiers decbires at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher. These combined the lessons of abstract art with the demands of surrealism. Although he was a member of the 'Abstraction-Creation' group, Arp's mental agility always allowed him to reconcile non-figurative art with plastic poetry. In his view, it was the artist's task to produce fruit, like a tree. To define the aims which drove him on, he once said : To wanted to find a new order, a new value for man in nature. Man should no longer be the standard against which everything is measured, nor should he relate everything to his own stature. On the contrary, all things and man should be like nature, and not have any standard scale.'
 


Jean Arp
Die Grablegung der Vogel und Schmetterlinge
1916
 


Jean Arp
Enak's Tears (Terrestrial Forms)
1917

 


Jean Arp
Sculpture to be Lost in the Forest
1932
 

Jean Arp

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born September 16, 1887, Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France]
died June 7, 1966, Basel, Switzerland

Also called Hans Arp French sculptor, painter, and poet who was one of the leaders of the European avant-garde in the arts during the first half of the 20th century.

First trained as an artist in his native Strasbourg, he later studied in Weimar, Germany, and at the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1912 he went to Munich, where, through his friend Wassily Kandinsky, he became briefly associated with Der Blaue Reiter. He returned to Paris in 1914 and became acquainted with the artists Modigliani, Picasso, and Robert Delaunay, as well as with the writer Max Jacob. During World War I he took refuge in Zürich, where he became one of the founders of the Dada movement. It was there that he produced his first painted reliefs. After the war he lived in Germany until 1924, when he and his wife, the artist Sophie Taeuber, whom he had married in 1921, settled near Paris in the town of Meudon. During the 1920s he was associated with the Surrealists, and in 1930 he was a member of the Cercle et Carré group. This was also theyear in which he made his first papiers déchirés (“torn papers”). In 1931 he participated in the Abstraction-Créationmovement. During World War II he again went to live in Zürich, where his wife died in 1943. While in Switzerland he did his first papiers froissés (“crumpled papers”). After the war Arp returned to Meudon, where he continued his experiments with abstract form and colour and wrote poetry. Arp on Arp: Poems, Essays, Memories by Jean Arp (1972) and Arp's Collected French Writings (1974) were edited by MarcelJean.

 


Georges Malkine
Nicole
 

Georges Malkine (1898-1970) was not mentioned in Le Surrealisme et la peinture, despite the fact that he had been a member of the 'heroic wave'. La Revolution surrealiste published his drawn stories, his drawing Ecstasy, and his painting The Valley of Chevreuse. He was a friend of Robert Desnos, and illustrated his The Night of Loveless Nights. Malkine had an inventive mind which was supported by a kind of pictorial sensuality. But he was little concerned to make a career in art, being too absorbed by the vicissitudes of his life, which led him into a strange mixture of trades : violinist, photographer, street vendor of neckties, actor, fairground hand, proof-reader. Claude-Andre Puget, who had known him since his youth, said of him : 'His was the only genuinely surrealist existence I have known.' In 1927 Malkine's exhibition at the Galerie Surrealiste was a great success. Shortly afterwards he left for the South Seas, where he travelled for three years. He was able to get back to France only by working his passage as a dishwasher. He began to paint again in 1930 and continued until 1933, when he stopped. He did not resume painting until he went to live in America in 1949. His work has retained a vein of surrealist fantasy, as his 1966 tribute to the composer Satie (a kindred spirit) shows.


Georges Malkine
La place Falguiere
1927


Georges Malkine
La visite
1927


Georges Malkine
Le boudoir
1927

 

 

Although the Galerie Surrealiste had been inaugurated, on 26 March 1926, with an exhibition of paintings by Man Ray, Breton pays greater tribute in his book to Man Ray the photographer than to Man Ray the painter. Indeed, Man Ray is above all the man who revolutionized photography by transforming it into a poetic means of investigating the world. As his pictures failed to sell, Man Ray began to practise photography to earn a living - he had combined this activity with painting for a long time previously. In 1921 he invented 'rayograms', which made phantoms of objects appear. He has described the technique : 'This is the principle of the rayogram, which is sometimes, in my view erroneously, called a photogram. Various objects, whatever one wishes, are placed in the dark on a sheet of light-sensitive paper. This combination is then illuminated by a ray of light. The objects placed on the paper protect the sensitive surface, and so do the shadows they cast, to a degree which depends on the intensity of the shadow. When the paper exposed in this way is developed, the rayogram appears as white silhouettes and incredibly delicately graduated shadows. The effect is absolutely unique to this kind of technique.' Man Ray made rayograms with wash-tongs, drawing pins, salt, and all kinds of items.
 


Man Ray
Rayograms
1922-1927
 

 

Apart from these experiments, he took fashion pictures for the couturier Paul Poiret, did portrait photographs, and made reproductions of avant-garde works. He worked in a hotel room with rudimentary equipment. Indeed, he affected scorn for elaborate cameras and for technical skill. He wanted to photograph ideas rather than things, and dreams rather than ideas. He had no interest in landscapes : 'I think that rather than taking banal representations of a view, it is better to take my handkerchief from my pocket, twist it as I want, and photograph it as I wish.' He used the close-up at a time when most photographers never dreamed of doing so.

The Marquise Casati was most enthusiastic about a photograph he had done of her showing her with two pairs of eyes; she declared that he had taken a portrait of her soul. From that time on, Man Ray found himself with an aristocratic clientele, and was able to set himself up in a studio. His portraits are given a kind of inner treatment - that of James Joyce, taken at a moment when the sitter was dazzled by the lights, is a demonstration of the art of giving full value to the sensitive part of the face. Man Ray began to do nudes in 1925, first of his girl-friend Kiki de Montparnasse, and then with many amateur models. He used all processes - for example solarization, which allows the values of cast shadows to be inverted - to give flesh a dream-like aureole. He treated the female body in the same way as Duchamp made a readymade. He used some personal detail to make each different from all the others. His portrait of Meret Oppenheim, naked, with one raised arm covered in black ink, behind the wheel of an etching press, is justly famous for this reason. His films, like Starfish (Etoile de mer, 1928), where instead of blurred outlines he aimed at a frosted glass effect, pushed his photographic successes one stage further. One of his paintings, more than eight feet wide, Observatory Time, the lovers (1932-4, New York, William N. Copley collection), shows a giant mouth floating in the sky above the Jardin du Luxembourg. A symbol : for Man Ray, photography was a kiss given by Time to Light.
 


Man Ray

Duchamp with Water Mill Within Glider
1917
 


Man Ray
Marcel Duchamp, 1924


Man Ray

The Marquise Casati



 
 


Man Ray
Marquise Casati, 1922


Man Ray
The Marquise Casati



 


Man Ray
Meret Oppenheim

 


Man Ray
Nusch Eluard
1937


Man Ray
Paul Eluard
1936



 


Man Ray
Ady Fidelin


 


Man Ray


 


Man Ray




 
 


Man Ray
Promenade
1915


Man Ray
A Day and Night
1941

Man Ray

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born August 27, 1890, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
died November 18, 1976, Paris, France

original name Emmanuel Radnitzkyphotographer, painter, and filmmaker who was the only American to play a major role in both the Dada and Surrealist movements.

The son of an artist and photographer, he grew up in New York City, where he studied architecture, engineering, and art, and became a painter. As early as 1911, he took up the pseudonym of Man Ray. As a young man, he was a regular visitor to Alfred Stieglitz's “291” gallery, where he was exposed to current art trends and earned an early appreciation for photography. In 1915 Man Ray met the French artist Marcel Duchamp, and together they collaborated on many inventions and formed the New York group of Dada artists. Like Duchamp, Man Ray began to produce ready-mades, commercially manufactured objects that he designated as works of art. Among his best-known ready-mades is The Gift (1921), a flatiron with a row of tacks glued to the bottom.

In 1921 Man Ray moved to Paris and became associated with the Parisian Dadaand Surrealist circles of artists and writers.Inspired by the liberation promoted by these groups, he experimented with many media. His experiments with photography included rediscovering how to make “cameraless” pictures, or photograms, which he called rayographs . He made them by placing objects directly on light-sensitive paper, which he exposed tolight and developed. In 1922 a book of his collected rayographs, Les Champs délicieux (“The Delightful Fields”), was published, with an introduction by the influential Dada artist Tristan Tzara, who admired the enigmatic quality of Man Ray's images. In 1929 Man Ray alsoexperimented with the technique called solarization, which renders part of a photographic image negative and part positive by exposing a print or negative to a flash of light during development. He was one of the first artists to use theprocess, known since the 1840s, for aesthetic purposes.

Man Ray also pursued fashion and portrait photography and made a virtually complete photographic record of the celebrities of Parisian cultural life during the 1920s and '30s. Many of his photographs were published in magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Vu, and Vogue. He continued his experiments with photography through the genre of portraiture; for example, he gave one sitter three pairs of eyes, and in Violon d'Ingres (1924) he photographically superimposed sound holes, or f holes, onto the photograph of the back of a female nude, making the woman's body resemble that of a violin. He also continued to produce ready-mades. One, a metronome with a photograph of an eyefixed to the pendulum, was called Object to Be Destroyed (1923)—which it was by anti-Dada rioters in 1957.

Man Ray also made films. In one short film, Le Retour à la raison (1923; Return to Reason), he applied the rayograph technique to motion-picture film, making patterns with salt, pepper, tacks, and pins. His other films include Anémic cinéma (1926; in collaboration with Duchamp) and L'Étoile de mer (1928–29; “Star of the Sea”), which is considered a Surrealist classic.

In 1940 Man Ray escaped the German occupation of Paris by moving to Los Angeles. Returning to Paris in 1946, he continued to paint and experiment until his death. His autobiography, Self-Portrait, was published in 1963 (reprinted 1999).

 

Finally, in the catalogue for an exhibition of collages which was held in March 1930 at the Galerie Goemans, 49 Rue de Seine, Aragon wrote an essay called La Peinture аu deft, a seminal text in which he vigorously reproached painting for having become an 'anodine entertainment', and expressed his preference for collage, which seemed to him to be the ideal way of passing beyond the preoccupations of matter, subject and decoration. 'It substitutes a method of expression of hitherto unimagined strength and scope for a debased art form. ... It restores a genuine meaning to the old pictorial demands by preventing the painter from falling prey to narcissism, to art for art's sake, by bringing him back to the magical practices - the origins of, and the justification for, plastic representations - which many religions have forbidden.' In collage Aragon saw the possibility of an assault on reality by a subversive form of the marvellous, using elements borrowed from reality with the sole purpose of being used against it. This attitude shows the kind of hope which collage engendered in the surrealist group. All of them saw it as a weapon directed against everyday banalities, against the spirit of the serious.

Poets as well as painters made collages : Georges Hugnet, E.L.T. Mesens and Jacques Prevert were among them. But none of them surpassed Max Ernst, who, in his picture books, La Femme 100 Tetes (1929), Reve d'une petite fille qui voulut entrer аи Carmel (1930) and Une Semaine de Bonte on les sept Elements Capitaux (1934), unravels stories with a multiplicity of twists and turns which derive their validity from the beliefs they reflect. 'Collage is a supersensitive and scrupulously accurate instrument, similar to a seismograph, which is able to record the exact amount of the possibility of human happiness at any period', said Max Ernst. His visual novels form a fantastic mythology whose hero is Loplop, 'Superior of the Birds', one of the best of his hallucinatory fantasies. One consequence of collage was that surrealist paintings of this period took on the form of painted collages : those of Emile Savitry, before he went over to photography, are an example. Even Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, when they were starting their careers, made the content of their paintings conform to that of collages.

 


Georges Hugnet
"La Querelle tout en elle…" (Planche refuse for "La Septieme face du de")
1936
 


E.L.T. Mesens (1903-1971)
The Night Prowler


E.L.T. Mesens (
1903-1971)
The Staff

 
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