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"

*
 


Man Ray, Jean Arp, Yves Tanguy, Andre Breton.
Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dali, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Rene Clevel
1930
 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 



Across the world


Rene Magritte
Paul Delvaux
Raoul Ubac

Wilhelm Freddie
Jindrich Styrsky
Toyen
Roland Penrose
Paul Nash
Eileen Agar
Edward Burra


Stellan Morner
Erik Olson
Esaias Thoren
Sven Jonson
Waldemar Lorentzon
Axel Olson

Rita Kernn-Larsen
Taro Okamoto

 




Paul Eluard

From 1935 to 1938 Andre Breton and Paul Eluard led a vigorous propaganda campaign aimed at 'the internationalization of surrealist ideas'. Their lectures and their contacts with the leaders of the avant-garde in many countries showed that the Paris group was looking for a universal audience, and trying to ensure the widest possible availability of precise information about the ideology of surrealism. But world-wide interest in surrealism had been aroused long before this, and the movement had attracted supporters throughout the world.

At the urging of the poet Marko Ristic, Yugoslav surrealism was born as early as 1924, the year in which the first Manifeste du surrealisme was published. The Yugoslav surrealists set out their principles in the Belgrade Declaration of 1930, a document whose signatories could hardly have suspected that fifteen years later they would be holding high office in public life : Kosta Popovic was to become Foreign Minister, and Marko Ristic ambassador in Paris. In 1931 their review Nadrealizam danas i ovde ('Surrealism here and now') presented experiments similar to those which were being conducted by their Parisian friends. For example, there was an 'essay in the simulation of paranoiac delirium' in which six painters and poets each gave their interpretation of an old wall. They carried out a survey on the question 'Is humour a moral attitude?' Among the painters in the Yugoslav surrealist group were Zivanovic-Noe and Vane Bor, who wrote an open letter to Dali explaining that he chose his colours for their smell, their name, and the shape of the tube.
 


Nusch Eluard


Nusch Eluard


Paul Eluard


(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Dec. 14, 1895, Saint-Denis, Paris, Fr.
died Nov. 18, 1952, Charenton-le-Pont

pseudonym of Eugène Grindel French poet, one of the founders of the Surrealist movement and one of the important lyrical poets of the 20th century.

In 1919 Éluard made the acquaintance of the Surrealist poets André Breton, PhilippeSoupault, and Louis Aragon, with whom he remained in close association until 1938. Experiments with new verbal techniques, theories on the relation between dream and reality, and the free expression of thought processes produced Capitale de la douleur (1926; “Capital ofSorrow ”), his first important work, which was followed by La Rose publique (1934; “The Public Rose”) and Les Yeux fertiles (1936; “The Fertile Eyes”). The poems in these volumes are generally considered the best to have come outof the Surrealist movement. At this time Éluard also explored, with André Breton, the paths of mental disorders inL'Immaculée Conception (1930).

After the Spanish Civil War Éluard abandoned Surrealist experimentations. His late work reflects his political militance and a deepening of his underlying attitudes: the rejection of tyranny, the search for happiness. In 1942 he joined the Communist Party. His poems dealing with the sufferings and brotherhood of man, Poésie et vérité (1942; “Poetry and Truth”), Au rendez-vous allemand (1944; “To the German Rendezvous”), and Dignes de vivre (1944; “Worthy of Living”), were circulated clandestinely during World War II and served to strengthen the morale of the Resistance. After the war his Tout dire (1951; “Say Everything”) and Le Phénix (1951) added, in simple language and vivid imagery, to the great body of French popular lyrical poetry.

 

   
 

In Belgium too, surrealism found an immediate echo. A group was formed in 1926 by the poets E.L.T. Mesens and Marcel Lecomte, the theoretician Paul Nouge, the dealer Camille Goemans, and the painter Rene Magritte. They founded a review, Varietes, in 1928, in which they set out their position vis a vis the 'Modern Spirit'.

The man who dominated Belgian surrealism from the start was the incomparable Rene Magritte, who created the most astounding visual dialectic of our time. Magritte had been a reluctant student at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and in 1922, the year in which he married, he became a designer in a wallpaper factory. Magritte spent some time doing abstract painting in association with Victor Servranckx. But by chance he came across a magazine reproduction of The Lope Song by Chirico, which showed him the way he was to follow. In 1924 he painted the picture which he considered to be his point of departure. This showed a window seen from inside a room, with, outside the window, a hand trying to catch a bird in flight. Another picture which he did shortly afterwards showed a woman with a rose in place of her heart.

In 1926, the support which Magritte got from the Galerie 'Le Centaure' enabled him to take up painting full time. He lived in France from 1927 to 1930, first in Paris, where he contributed to La Revolution Surrealiste, and later in Perreux, north-west of Lyons. During this period he produced a great many pictures, some of them of enormous size. He outgrew the influence of Chirico, which is still apparent in The Difficult Crossing (1926) and The Flying Statue (1927). In Threatening Weather (London, Roland Penrose collection), which has a female torso, a tuba, and a chair suspended over the horizon, Magritte tried to explain the 'why' - or rather the 'why not' - of the exterior world. His shapes were still crude, and his colours of a mineral hardness.

In The Passer-by (1929), a cloud-flecked sky-blue silhouette outlined against a wall, he began to use a kind of contrast which he always valued. He invented a repertory of 'problems', which implied 'object lessons', and used telling combinations to make the familiar strange. He based himself in this on the following principles : enlargement of a detail (an immense apple or rose filling up all the space in a room), the association of complementaries (the leaf-bird or the leaf-tree, the mountain-eagle, etc.), the animation of the inanimate (the shoe with toes, the dress with breasts), the mysterious opening (the door swinging open on to an unexpected view), material transformation of creatures (a person made of cut-out paper, or a stone bird flying above the rocks of the seashore), and anatomical surprises (the hand whose wrist is a woman's face).

 

Andre Breton wrote later in Les Vases communicants: 'The highest endeavour to which poetry can aspire is to compare two objects as remote as possible from one another, or, by any method whatsoever, to bring them into confrontation in an abrupt and striking way'. Magritte was totally committed to this task, and constantly varied its possibilities. He was also able to bring two closely related objects together and to bring out the differences between them, or to put an object at odds with the name used to describe it. This confrontation between the word and the object, between the drawing and the writing, enabled him to give the spectator the kind of revelatory shock which can be seen in Vertigo (1943), where he painted a female nude with the word 'Tree' written across her stomach.

Magritte was often moved by brief flashes of illumination. One day he saw his wife eating a chocolate bird, and immediately produced an image of a young woman eating a live bird, with its blood flowing over her hands. On another occasion a glimpse of the lathe-turned feet of a table inspired him to paint the huge wood-turnings of the landscape in Annunciation (1928, Brussels, E.L.T. Mesens collection).

 


see EXPLORATION

Rene Magritte
 


Threatening Weather


Anunciacion

 

 

 

Magritte is a painter of revelations. His painting excludes symbols and myths, and he is not a prospector of the invisible. He transmits faithfully what is revealed to him by his attentive contemplation of reality. Even when he changes its meaning, he bases himself on the object which inspires him. In 1934 he wrote in the Belgian periodical Documents: 'We must never, at any price, depart from the reality of the element which has delivered up its secret to us. This is a point of reference.'

In The Human Condition (1934, Paris, Claude Spaak collection), a painting on an easel allows us to see, by its apparent transparence, the landscape exactly behind it. This picture is the essence of Magritte. He paints transparent enigmas, and his mysteries are always crystal clear, livery one of his paintings is an act of poetic reflection on the nature of the world. He does not try to find new solutions to old problems, but sets new problems which bring back into play all the solutions which have already been found. Perpetual motion (1934), The Rаре (1934) and The Amorous Perspective (1935, Brussels, Robert Giron collection) were the first masterpieces of this wholly committed style. Like Dali, Magritte needed a scrupulously academic technique to give maximum precision to the extraordinary content of his paintings. From 1940 to 1946, the period which his friend Scutenaire described as 'full sunlight', Magritte tried to paint like the impressionists, playing with the efflorescences of colour. Fortunately he reverted to his normal style, where technique is the servant of the idea. Towards the end of his life Magritte experimented with the transposition of the idea from one medium to another. (La folie des grandeurs, 1961-6).

 



Rene Magritte
 

See EXPLORATION:



Rene Magritte



"Thought rendered visible"


(by Marcel Paquet)


*
 

 

 


Rene Magritte

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Nov. 21, 1898, Lessines, Belg.
died Aug. 15, 1967, Brussels

Belgian artist, one of the most prominent Surrealist painters whose bizarre flights of fancy blended horror, peril, comedy, and mystery. His works were characterized by particular symbols—the female torso, the bourgeois “little man,” the bowler hat, the castle, the rock, the window, and others.

After studying at the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts (1916–18), Magritte became a designer for a wallpaper factory and then did sketches for advertisements. In 1922 hesaw a reproduction of Giorgio de Chirico's painting “The Song of Love” (1914), an evocative and haunting juxtaposition of odd elements (a classical bust and a rubber glove among them) in a dreamlike architectural space; it had a great influence on Magritte's mature style. For the next fewyears he was active in the Belgian Surrealist movement. With the support of a Brussels art gallery, he became a full-time painter in 1926.

His first solo show was held in 1927. It was not well received by the art critics of the day. That same year he and his wife moved to a suburb of Paris. There he met and befriended several of the Paris Surrealists, including poets André Bretonand Paul Éluard, and he became familiar with the collages of Max Ernst. In 1930 Magritte returned to Brussels, where (except for the occasional journey) he remained for the rest of his life. During the 1940s he experimented with a variety of styles, sometimes, for example, incorporating elements of impressionism, but the paintings he produced in this period were not successful by most accounts, and he eventually abandoned the experimental. For the rest of his life he continued to produce his enigmatic and illogical images in a readily identifiable style. In his last year he supervised the construction of eight bronze sculptures derived from images in his paintings.

The sea and wide skies, which were enthusiasms of his childhood, figure strongly in his paintings. In “Threatening Weather” (1928) the clouds have the shapes of a torso, a tuba, and a chair. In “The Castle of the Pyrenees” (1959) a huge stone topped by a small castle floats above the sea. Other representative fancies were a fish with human legs, a man with a bird cage for a torso, and a gentleman leaning over a wall beside his pet lion. Dislocations of space, time, and scale were common elements. In “Time Transfixed” (1939), for example, a steaming locomotive is suspended from the centre of a mantelpiece in a middle-class sitting room, looking as if it had just emerged from a tunnel. In “Golconda” (1953) bourgeois, bowler-hatted men fall like rain toward a street lined with houses.

 

 

 

 

Paul Delvaux came across surrealism in 1936. Before this, he had studied architecture at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and had then painted in a naturalistic impressionistic style. He showed paintings in this style in his first exhibition at the Galerie Manteau in 1926. But at a group exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, he was deeply impressed by works by Chirico and Magritte. He set off on a parallel road, and first broached the style which was to become his own in Procession in Lace (1936, Brussels, Jean Giron collection), clothed women moving towards a triumphal arch, and in Woman with a rose (1936), who bends down to pluck a flower in a corridor, and in The Sleeping Town (1938, Brussels, Robert Giron collection), a weird night scene observed by a man from the threshold of his house.

 

Delvaux visited Italy, where his study of the painters of the Quattrocento confirmed him in his taste for linear perspective, for architecture, and for women of ideal proportions. In Nocturne (1939) and The Visit (1939), he showed flesh as a function of enchantment; his naked women are materializations of moonbeams. In Dawn over the town (1940) and Entry into the town (1940, Brussels, Robert Giron collection), he produces an astounding contrast by introducing into a crowd of naked women and youths an austerely dressed man who remains totally indifferent to his surroundings. When he brings skeletons into scenes of this kind, they seem to be tamed and vanquished by the splendour of the nudes.

 

 


Paul Delvaux
Entry into the City
 

 

 The war inspired him to paint The Anxious Town (1941, Brussels, Dr Demol collection), where almost a hundred characters in a city are in a state of panic, as if a storm were approaching the Earthly Paradise. So many of Delvaux' pictures - The Hands (1941), in which one of the clothed figures is the painter himself, The Echo (1943, Paris, Claude Spaak collection), Iron Age (1951, Ostend) - show him to be a painter who has best succeeded in combining modern beauty and the beauty of antiquity, and in giving all his anxieties and all his hopes the radiant appearance of the women of his dreams.
 


Paul Delvaux

The Iron Age
1951

 

 

Paul Delvaux

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Sept. 23, 1897, Antheit, Liège, Belg.
died July 20, 1994, Veurne

Belgian Surrealist painter, whose canvases portray transfixed humans in a mysterious time and place.

Delvaux studied first architecture, then painting at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. His early work, in the 1920s, was influenced by Postimpressionism and Expressionism. Impressed by the Spaniard Salvador Dalí, theItalian Giorgio de Chirico, and later his fellow Belgian René Magritte, he joined their Surrealist ranks in the mid-1930s. When touring Italy before World War II, he was influenced by its classic architecture (as de Chirico had been) and by the early-16th-century Mannerist paintings, which took liberties with form and space.

A representative Delvaux painting is “The Echo” (1943), in which three somnambulistic nudes walk in tandem past dead temples, as if walking through time. In “Entombment” (1951),skeletons bury fellow skeletons. Major exhibitions of his work have been held in North and South America and Africa as well as at many places in Europe; important awards have come to him from Italy and Belgium. From 1950 to 1962 he was a professor of painting in Brussels.
 

 

Belgian surrealists also included Raoul Ubac, who published an album called L'Invention collective with Magritte in 1935, and who from about this period composed 'photo-reliefs', in which a relief effect is produced by printing from positive and negative transparencies superimposed and slightly out of register. In these photographs nudes and statues seem to be completely fossilized. He later tried to transfer this kind of effect into his burin engraving. Subsequently he went on to sculptures in slate which have only a remote connection with his surrealist period.
 

 


Raoul Ubac
Group III
1939

 

 


In Sweden, the Manifeste du surre'alisme had inspired the poets Lundkvist, Ekelof, Vennberg and Asklund and an anthology of surrealist poetry, Spektrum, was published in 1933. Work on the visual aspects of surrealism was carried on by the Halmstadgruppen
(a group from Halmstad, a Swedish Baltic coast town), which was led by G.A. Nilson, and included the painters Stellan Morner, Erik Olson, Esaias Thoren, Sven Jonson, Waldemar Lorentzon and Axel Olson. These painters, after having originally defined their position as orthodox, took up an eclectic imagery full of romantic reminiscences. These artists stayed together, and in 1954 produced a collective set design for the Halmstad theatre.
 

Stellan Morner
(1896-1979)


Lady Macbeth


Dremland med hjdrtan


 

 


Dromland


Composition


 


Kandelabrarna och mormorsvasen


 


Dr&#246

_____________
_____________
 

Erik Olson
(1901-1986) 


Poeten har vaknat


Deus ex machina I

 

 


Handsken or kastad


Aftonlandskap

 

 


Eko frеn skilda horisonter


Sekaren

 

 


Sisyfos - Stenhuggaren


Dagens Evangelium

 

 


Stormen. Luften. Vattnet. Elden. Jorden


Untitled

 

 


Prismatic landscape


Choc Meni

 


Torsos

_____________
_____________
 

Esaias Thoren

(1901-1981)


Esaias Thoren
Huvudet med stensystrarna
1940

 

 


Esaias Thoren
Spelet har borjat
1938


Esaias Thoren
Forintelse
1938

_____________
_____________
 

Sven Jonson
(1902-1981)


Sven Jonson
Meditation
1955

 

 


Sven Jonson
Morgen
1941

 

 


Sven Jonson
Preludium II


Sven Jonson
Reliker
1937
 

 

_____________
_____________
 

Waldemar Lorentzon

(1899-1984)


Waldemar Lorentzon
Havet ger

 

 


Waldemar Lorentzon
Kosmisk Moder


Waldemar Lorentzon
Forlеt!

 

 


Waldemar Lorentzon
Sallsam timme


Waldemar Lorentzon
Odesnatt

 

 


Waldemar Lorentzon
Kort gastspel
1937

_____________
_____________
 

Axel Olson
(1899-1986)


Axel Olson
Gondoliar och blomsterflicka
1929


Axel Olson
Gra figur
1923

 

 


Axel Olson
Poeten har vaknat
 


Axel Olson
Ogat

 

 

 

In Denmark there was a group whose views were contained in the review Konkretion, which first appeared in 1935. The group, which took part in the 'Cubist Surrealist Exhibition' in Copenhagen, included the painters Henry Carlsson, Elsa Thoresen and Rita Kernn-Larsen, and the sculptor Heerup.
 


Rita Kernn-Larsen
Valmue


Rita Kernn-Larsen
Handelse i fremtiden
 


But the two outstanding members were Wilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, who organized various surrealist exhibitions, and who often wrote about the movement, and the greatest of Danish surrealists, Wilhelm Freddie.

In 1930, when he was twenty-one, Freddie showed his picture Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite at the Copenhagen Autumn Salon. This was the signal for the scandal which was aroused by the introduction of surrealism into Denmark. Freddie was a follower of Dali in his use of aggressive phantoms; but, unlike Dali, he was not able to develop a personality eccentric enough to allow him to carry off his artistic audacity. The English customs refused to admit Monument to war and other pictures he sent to the London Surrealist Exhibition in 1936. In 1937 there were angry scenes at his Copenhagen exhibition 'Sex-Surreal', which included 'sado-masochistic interiors' and 'sensual objects'. One protester was so infuriated that he hurled himself on Freddie on the day of the opening and tried to strangle him. The gallery was closed by the police, who confiscated the works on show, some of which, including Monument to war, went to their 'black museum', from which Freddie was not able to retrieve them until much later.

 

 


Wilhelm Freddie
Sex-kanon
 

 

Freddie began to impose his personality in 1940. His new exhibition in Copenhagen drew an enormous public, and his ballet, The Triumph of Lore, staged at hlsinore, established his reputation. But the Nazi occupation of Denmark brought him more troubles. He was wanted by the SS because of the attack he had made on Hitler in his large picture Meditation on anti-Nazi love, and was forced first into hiding and then to flee to Sweden. Not until after the war was Freddie able to work without restrictions and to be judged at his true worth.


Jindrich Styrsky
Vitezslav Nezval "Sexualni nocturno"



 

Czechoslovak surrealism, which grew out of the "Devetsil" group which combined all avant-garde tendencies, was formulated in 1933 at the instance of the theoretician Karel Teige and the poets Vitezslav Nezval and Konstantin Biebl. Breton and Eluard had an enthusiastic reception at the international surrealist exhibition in Prague in 1935. The Czechoslovak group included the sculptor Makovsky, who used all sorts of materials - stone, canvas, card - in his reliefs, and the painters Jindrich Styrsky and his wife Toyen. Styrsky, born at Cermna in 1899, began his career by illustrating the 'poetist' trend in Czechoslovak painting. But in 1934 he began an extraordinary series of collages, The Removal Office. Later he showed a series of paintings - Roofs - but returned to collage during the war, working on violently anti-clerical themes. He died in 1942, and a retrospective exhibition of his work was held in Prague in 1946.

Styrsky's wife Toyen was initially an abstract painter, but rapidly developed towards a form of figurative painting which recalled folk imagery. A major work in this style is The Dancers (1925), immense figures in transparent veils, who parade before minutes pectators who are holding bouquets and turning their backs on the dancers. Toyen played an active part in the foundation of Czechoslovak surrealism, and she became the country's greatest surrealist painter. In one period or her work she showed a cracked and fissured universe : the human silhouette in The Red Spectre (1934) and the night bird in The Voice of the Forest (1934) are both covered in a network of cracks as if they were about to disintegrate. Her first major exhibition in Prague in 1938 was accompanied by the publication of monographs about her work and about that of Styrsky. Her paintings are held together by her outstanding draughtsmanship, which shows brilliantly in her series of drawings The Spectres of the Desert (1937), The Shoot (1940) and Hide, War (1944).
Her painting, with its subtle dreamlike quality, creates an outlandish atmosphere by the use of sober means; a dress lifted at the window of a house, showing on the wall the impression of a woman's body ; the sky forms an angle from which a bird's nest is suspended ; lips and hair form a stifling erotic dream-world; she makes any number of discoveries which bring the surreal into action. Her self-effacing attitude may have resulted in her name being left off the lists of the great surrealists, but there is no doubt that she is an artist of the first rank, who brought to painting something of what Kafka gave to literature.
 





Toyen (Marie Cerminova)


Toyen
Shooting Range I
 


Toyen
The Snap
Photocollage, 1967

 

 


Alberto Martini
La finestra di psiche nella casa del poeta

There was no real surrealist group in Italy. The review Suirealismo, published by the writer Curzio Malaparte, was not the mouthpiece of a group, but merely a selection of various international writings about the movement. But some Italian painters were inspired by the trend. Alberto Martini, a painter born in 1876, had illustrated the works of Mallarme, Рое and Rimbaud as early as 1911; his extraordinary paintings, his albums of lithographs (Mysteries and bantasies bham and cruel), his designs for sets and costumes for a 'theatre on whom rumour had it that he had smashed pianos by the enthusiasm and vigour of his performance. He gave a concert in Paris in 1914, organized by Les Soirees de Paris with the support of Apollinaire, who announced to the audience : 'You will see him play his piano. He sits there in shirtsleeves, his monocle in his eye, and screams and yells while the instrument does what it can to reach the musician's enthusiastic range.'


Alberto Martini
Il conte Ugolino e l'arcivescovo
Ruggeri


Alberto Martini
The turnip that the Prussians wanted to plant in Paris

 


Alberto Savinio wrote music for operas and ballets, including The Death of Niobe, produced in Rome in 1925. He also wrote a poem-cycle, Chants de la Mi-Mort (1914), and astonishing stories, including the Introduction a une vie de Mercure. He returned to Paris, and lived there from 1926 to 1934; during this time he began to paint, holding his first exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in November 1927. His pictures were always perfect irrational images, and there is much in Henri Parisot's opinion that he was 'the Fuseli of the twentieth century'.
 

 


Alberto Savinio
Sodome

 

 


Henry Moore
Woman

The appearance of English surrealism was marked by the opening in June 1936 of the 'International Surrealist Exhibition' at the New Burlington Galleries in London. This had been organized by Roland Penrose, the painter and collector, who himself made collages and objects. More than sixty artists took part. The star of the English section was Paul Nash, who might have been the best English surrealist painter, had not his versatility led him to try every genre. Another leading exhibitor was Humphrey Jennings, painter and film-maker, who painted oddly sophisticated pictures. Henry Moore showed sculptures which stood at the frontiers of dream and reality. Some of the others who stood out were Eileen Agar, with her poetic objects, and the caricaturist Edward Burra, whose paintings were derivative of those of Max Ernst.
On the evening of the private view the guests were joined by a 'woman with a head of flowers', whose head was entirely hidden in a bouquet of roses. Salvador Dali turned up to lecture wearing a diving suit and holding two white greyhounds on a leash. The success and influence of this exhibition were remarkable. In 1938, E.L.T. Mesens moved to London and took on the direction of the London Gallery. Until June 1940 he published the London Bulletin and used his expertise to support English surrealism.

 

 


Roland Penrose


Paul Nash


Eileen Agar


Edward Burra

 

 

 

A surrealist group was founded in Romania in 1933, but showed no original, individual development until much later, when it adopted an attitude to life and art which was, systematically, delirious. The moving spirit of this group was the poet Gherasim Luca, who invented a new form of collage which he called 'cubomania'. This consisted of cutting squares from illustrations and joining them up in an arbitrary pattern. He got unexpected results from this, and brought together a selection of these strange puzzles in his album Les Orgies des Quanta (1946). He exhibited cubomanias in Bucharest and in Paris, where he went to live.

In Japan, surrealism developed almost immediately, thanks to the tireless proselytizing of the poet Shuzo Takiguchi, who began to spread surrealist ideas, through his articles and publications, as early as 1927. At first he disseminated the ideas of surrealist poetry, but from 1930 on, he contributed to the rapid development of the visual side of the movement, particularly by his translation of what Andre Breton and Aragon had written about painting. A group of artists formed around the review Mizue, in which Takiguchi published an essay on 'Art and Surrealism'. From 1934 to 1936, the movement won a large following among the Japanese public, and influenced painters and sculptors through the formation of the Shin-Zokei ('New Plastic') association. In June 1937, an International Surrealist Exhibition in Tokyo was a huge success, and was put on in three other Japanese cities. A 'Surrealist Album', with many reproductions, was put together for the occasion by Takiguchi and Yamanaka. Takiguchi published a book called The Metamorphoses of Modern Art in 1938, and monographs on Dali (1939) and Miro (1940). After an eclipse due to the war, he resumed work and in 1958 set up a Centre of Surrealist Studies in Tokyo. The best known Japanese surrealist painters are Fukuzawa, Otsuka, Shimozato, Ayako Suzuki, Shigeru Imai and Taro Okamoto.

Okamoto, who was in close touch with the Paris group, is an especially representative figure. His father, Ippei, was a satirical draughtsman, and his mother, Kanoko Okamoto, was a novelist. He was born in Tokyo in 1911, and moved to Paris in 1929; in 1932 he exhibited at the 'Salon des Surindependants'. His work developed in two directions, that of non-figurative art (he belonged at first to the Abstraction-Creation movement) and that of fantastic imagery. He painted numerous pictures, heavy with tragic irony, on the theme of ribbons entwining bodies and holding them captive in enormous knots, as if to show humanity imprisoned in the silken bonds of frivolity : examples are The Dolorous Hand (1935) and The Woman Beribboned (1936). On his return to Japan in 1940, Okamoto continued to work in his half-abstract, halt-visionary style. Of all Japanese painters, he is among those who have most thoroughly assimilated the message of the Western avant-garde.

In other countries, including Egypt, Turkey, and (after the war) Spain and Portugal, there were groups which claimed to be surrealist, and which published periodicals, but all of them concentrated more on verbal work than on visual creation. This spread of surrealist activity throughout the world is a sufficiently convincing proof that surrealism was tar from being the concern of a closed circle, but was a response to a profound hope which had a universal place in man's sensibilities.
 

Taro Okamoto
(1911-1996)


Taro Okamoto
Tower of the Sun


 


Taro Okamoto
Myth of Tomorrow


 


Taro Okamoto
Sculptures in Omotessando


Taro Okamoto
Sculptures in Omotessando

 

 

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