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Surrealism Circa 1921 – 1940. " Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissection table.“ - Lautréamont Les chants de Maldoror.

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surrealism circa 1921 1940

Surrealism Circa 1921 – 1940

"Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella

on a dissection table.“

- Lautréamont

Les chants de Maldoror


The Surrealist Revolution (left)Photomontage for LaRévolution Surréaliste, nº 12, 1929by René Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967), Enquête sur l\'amour’ (Inquiry on Love)(bottom right) Surrealist group, Paris, 1930, L-R: Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard, André Breton, Hans Arp, Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, René Crevel, Man Ray


(left) The World in the Time of the Surrealists, Brussels, 1929"We are determined to make a Revolution." "We have joined the word surrealism to the word revolution solely to show the disinterested, detached and even entirely desperate character of this revolution." - André Breton

(right) Easter Island, Polynesia, ceremonial dance paddle (rapa) from André Breton’s collection of Oceanic art. It represents a highly stylized male figure with Janus-face head and phallic finial showing retracted foreskin.


Precursors to Surrealism: 19th Century Romanticism and Symbolism (left) Arnold Bocklin, The Isle of the Dead, 1880, oil on canvas, Symbolism (right) Francisco Goya, Saturn c. 1821-1823, Oil on plaster remounted on canvas, Romanticism


Precursor to Surrealism: Giorgio de Chirico, (Greek-Italian,1888-1978) (left) The Melancholy and Mystery of a Street, 1914, oil on canvas, 34 x 28”Metaphysical School(right) The Great Metaphysician, 1917, oil on canvas, 41 x 27”influence on De Chirico of Arnold Bocklin (center)


New York Times 2007: “The Museo Carlo Bilotti is Rome’s newest cultural gem, with extraordinary art housed in a fastidiously restored 16th-century marble palazzo smack in the middle of Villa Borghese.” Bilotti, an Italian-American perfume (Old Spice) executive from Palm Beach, Fla., left his collection, including 22 de Chirico paintings, to the city of Rome.


“Naturalist” or “Hand Painted Dream” SurrealismRené Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967) The Treachery of Images, 1928-29, oil on canvas, 23 x 31”, LACMA, Deconstruction

magritte les valeurs personnelles personal values 1952 31 1 2 in x 39 3 8 in oil on canvas sfmoma
Magritte, Les Valeurs personnelles (Personal Values), 1952, 31 1/2 in. x 39 3/8 in., oil on canvas, SFMOMA

John Baldessari at 2007 exhibition he

designed: Treachery of Images: René

Magritte and Contemporary Art. LACMA


(left) Charles Ray (American, b. 1953), Fall \'91, 1992, mixed media, 96 in. H(right) Robert Gober (American, b.1954), Untitled, 1989-92, mixed media

(left) Robert Gober, Untitled, 1990, beeswax, human hair, pigment(right) Magritte, The Rape, 1935, oil on canvas
"The eye exists in its savage state. The marvels of the earth ... have as their sole witness the wild eye that traces all its colors back to the rainbow."

- André Breton


Surrealist magazine, La Révolution Surréaliste [The Surrealist Revolution, 12 issues,1924-1929] was modeled on the conservative scientific magazine, La Nature. In a mock scientific manner, specimens of automatic writing and records of dreams were illustrated with photographs, mostly by the “machine-poet” Man Ray (American,1890-1976). The review succeeded in shocking everyone.


Man Ray, Minotaur, 1933, for the Surrealist magazine, Minotaur. Collapses human and animal into a single (border) “impossible” category: bull-human, like the Greek mythical monster.


Man Ray, Minotaur, 1933

Surrealist “formlessness”:

erasing categories of sexuality

Brassai, Nudes, 1933

Phallus-female torso

Brancusi, Torso, 1924 & 1926

man ray anatomies c 1930 phallus neck double entendre
Man Ray, Anatomies, c. 1930 phallus-neck (double entendre)

“The frame announces the camera’s ability to find and isolate what we could call the world’s constant writing of erotic symbols, its ceaseless automatism.”

(left) Lee Miller (American, 1907-1977), Nude Bent Forward, Paris, 1931(right) Dora Maar (French, 1907-1997), Le Pere Ubu, 1936

Surrealist defamiliarization becomes “Formless (Informe)” of the subconscious

and the dream


AUTOMATONS and mannequins: Hans Bellmer (Polish, 1902-75), La Poupée (Doll), 1935-49, hand colored gelatin silver print(right) Bellmer, La Poupée, 1935-36: (center) La Poupée), 1934; gelatin silver prints“Dolls” are made of wood, metal, papier-mâché and dressed with wigs, clothing, etc. or not

The art object is not the sculpture; it is the photograph.


SURREALIST PHOTOGRAPHY: MANNIQUINS AND “DISTORTIONS”Eugène Atget (French 1857-1927), Boulevard de Strasbourg, Corsets, 1912, albumen silver printAndré Kertész (Hungarian, 1894-1985), Distortion #4, 1933, gelatin silver print


Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali, frames from Un Chien Andalou (France) An Andalusian Dog, Surrealist film, 1928. Eyes, insects, metamorphosis, erotics, madness of the dream & subconscious


METAMOPHOSIS OF FORMSalvador Dali (Spanish, 1904-89) interpreted photograph, Paranoic Face, 1931 from Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution, no.3. “voluntary hallucination" = the "critical paranoic method"(right) Dali, Apparition of a face and a Fruit Dish, 1930

I think the time is rapidly coming when it will be possible…to systematize confusion thanks to a paranoiac and active process of thought, and so assist in discrediting completely the world of reality.”

- Dali

salvador dali the lugubrious game 1929 oil on canvas
Salvador Dali, The Lugubrious Game, 1929, oil on canvas

"Repugnance is the sentry standing right near the door to those things

that we desire most.” - Salvador Dali

salvador dali the persistence of memory 1931 oil on canvas 9 x 13 moma nyc
Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931oil on canvas, 9 x 13,” MoMA NYC

“The transcription of reveries.” Hand-painted dream photographs. Dali’s morphological aesthetics of the soft and hard and the search for form: “un-form” (Informe)

Cape Creus, Catalonia


ANXIOUS VISIONS for Anxious Times – social contexts of Surrealist imagery(left) SalvadorDali, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonitions of Civil War, 1936, oil on canvas, 39 x 39” (Spanish Civil War), Surrealism (right) compare FranciscoGoya, 1821 (Napoleonic wars in Spain), Romanticism


AUTOMATISM: Surrealist “exquisite corpse” drawings (left) by Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, Max Morise, Joan Miró, c. 1926.(right) “exquisite corpse” by Victor Brauner, André Breton, Jacques Hérold and Yves Tanguy, 1935.


AUTOMATISM and abstract biomorphic SurrealismAndré Masson (French, 1896-1987) Quare de vulva exuxiste me (Why dids’t thou bring me forth from the womb?), 1923, pen & ink on paper(right) Battle of Fishes, 1926, sand, gesso, oil, pencil, and charcoal on canvas, 14 x 28,


Joan Miró (Spanish,1893-1983), Carnival of Harlequin, 1924-5, oil on canvas, 26 x 36” Response to Cubism: "I will break their guitar."


BIOMORPHISM + POPULAR CULTUREJoan Mirò, Painting, 1933, oil on canvas, 5’8” x 6’5” MoMA, NYC (right) source collage of clippings from equipment catalogues


DISJUNCTION / READYMADE /UNCANNY OBJECT(left) Joan Miró, Object, assemblage: stuffed parrot on wood perch, stuffed silk stocking with velvet garter and doll’s paper shoe suspended in hollow wood frame, derby hat, hanging cork ball, celluloid fish, and engraved map, 32 x 12 x 10,” 1936(right) Joseph Cornell (American, 1903-1972] ) Medici Boy, 1942-52. mixed media assemblage


(left) Exhibition of Surrealist Objects, Paris, 1936, mock-scientific display(right) Marcel Duchamp, Surrealist Exhibition / Installation, 16 Miles of String, Peggy Guggenheim Gallery, NYC, 1942 – the labyrinth of the Minotaur


SURREALISM . DIASPORIC INDIGENISM / “MAGIC REALISM”Wilfredo Lam (Cuban, 1902-82), The Jungle, 1943, gouache on paper mounted on canvas, 7’10” x 7’6”, MoMA NYCSanterìa: blend of African and Catholic religious practices(left) Wilfredo Lam in his Havana studio, 1947

matta roberto matta echaurren chilean 1911 2002 disasters of mysticism 1942 oil on canvas 38 x 51
Matta (Roberto Matta Echaurren, Chilean, 1911-2002), Disasters of Mysticism, 1942oil on canvas, 38 x 51”
frida kahlo mexican 1907 1954 right what the water yields me oil on canvas 1938
Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954) (right) What the Water Yields Me, oil on canvas,1938

Imogen Cunningham, Frida

Kahlo in San Francisco, 1931

kahlo self portrait on the border between mexico and the united states 1932 oil on tin 12 x 13
Kahlo, Self-Portrait on the Border Between Mexico and the United States1932, oil on tin, 12 x 13”
Kahlo, Henry Ford Hospital, 1932, oil on metal, 12 x 15.5 in. (compare left) Mexican ex-voto (retablo), oil on tin, 1878, 14" x 10"

Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl in

the act of giving birth to a man.

Kahlo, My Birth, 1932, painted after a miscarriage

coinciding with the death of the artist’s mother

“How I imagined I was born.” (a double death?)

Kahlo, Marxism Will Bring Health to the Sick, 1954. One of the artist’s last paintings: an effort to create political art

Leonora Carrington (British-born Mexican Surrealist Painter and Writer, born in 1917) Self-Portrait (The White Horse Inn), 1936-7, oil on canvas, 25 x 32”


Dorothea Tanning (American, 1910 - ) (left) Ein klein nachtmusik "A little night music," 1946(right) Birthday, 1942, oil on canvas, 40.25 x 25.5 inches (center, below) with husband Max Ernst, Sedona, Arizona, 1948

Dorothea Tanning, Hôtel du Pavot, cloth and mixed materials, permanent installation, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2000

Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901-66), Suspended Ball, 1930-31 (1965 reconstruction), plaster and metal, 24 x 14 x 13”(right) Constantin Brancusi, Torse (wood 1922; bronze 1926)

Sexual “nudes” undoing

categories of male female desire

alberto giacometti woman with her throat cut femme gorg e bronze 8 x 34 x 25 moma nyc
Alberto Giacometti, Woman with Her Throat Cut (Femme égorgée), bronze, 8 x 34 x 25”, MoMA, NYC
alberto giacometti woman with her throat cut femme gorg e bronze 8x34 x 25 moma nyc
Alberto Giacometti, Woman with Her Throat Cut (Femme égorgée), bronze, 8x34 x 25”, MoMA, NYC
Giacometti, The Palace at 4 a.m., 1932-3, construction in wood, glass, wire, and string, 25 x 28 x 16”, MoMA NYC (top right)

1932 sketch indicates



END OF THE AGE OF EUROPE AND EMERGENCE OF NEW YORK SCHOOL(left) Hitler occupies Paris, 1940Photograph of the artists exhibiting in the Artists in Exile show at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, March, 1942. Left to right, first row: Matta, Ossip Zadkine, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger; second row: André Breton, Piet Mondrian, André Masson, Amédée Ozenfant, Jacques Lipchitz, Pavel Tchelitchew, Kurt Seligmann, Eugene Berman. Photograph by George Platt Lynes

END OF THE AGE OF EUROPE AND EMERGENCE OF NEW YORK SCHOOLMax Ernst, Europe After the Rain, 1940-42, oil on canvas, 21 x 58”

Nina Leen, photograph captioned “Irrasible Group of Advanced Artists,” printed in Life (15 January 1952), (top row) Willem de Kooning, Adoph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Hedda Stern; (middle): Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, Bradley Walker tomlin; (bottom): Theodoros Stamos, Jimmy Ernst, Barnett Newman, James Brooks, Mark Rothko


INFLUENCE OF SURREALISM ON ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM(left top) André Masson (French, 1896–1987. In U.S.1941–45)Pasiphaë, oil and tempera, 1943, and (left bottom) 1945, Pastel on paper, 27x 38“(right) Jackson Pollock (1912-56), Pasiphaë, oil, 1943

Automatism and psycho-analytic theory


AMERICAN INFLUENCES ON NEW YORK SCHOOL ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS(left) Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-56),Going West, 1934-35, 15 x 20”, oil on bd; (right) Thomas Hart Benton (American Regionalist, 1889-1975) The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley, oil on masonite, 42 x 53”, U of Kansas


INFLUENCE OF MEXICAN MODERNISM on Abstract Expressionism(left) Pollock, Flame, oil on canvas, 1936; (center) David Siqueiros (Mexican, 1896-1974), Echo of a Scream, 1937; (RIGHT) José Orozco (Mexican 1883-1949), The Epic of American Civilization: Modern Migration of the Spirit, fresco mural: 14th panel, Dartmouth College, 1932-34

Jackson Pollock, Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), oil, enamel, and aluminum on canvas, 7’4” x 9’11”, National Gallery, Washington D.C.

Photographs of Pollock painting by Hans Namuth, 1950 = Action Painting"My opinion is that new needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements." - Jackson Pollock

willem de kooning dutch american 1904 1997 left drawing woman 1 new york 1950 right woman 1 1950 52
Willem de Kooning (Dutch-American, 1904-1997)(left) drawing Woman 1 New York, 1950; (right) Woman 1, 1950-52

Willem de Kooning, Pink Angels, c. 1945, oil and charcoal on canvasPeter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, 1618

Elaine de Kooning (American, 1918-1989), photoportrait, 1946Elaine de Kooning, Harold Rosenberg #3, 1956, 6’8” x 4’10”
Lee Krasner (American, 1908 -1984) in New York studio, mid-1930sBlue Painting, 1946, oil on canvas, 28 x 36”

Mark Rothko (Russian-American 1903 -70) (left) Encantation, 1944, mixed media/paper, 24 x 30” (right) Multiform 2 1948, oil on canvas, one of a small group of untitled works collectively known as \'Multiforms\' that Rothko painted during the years 1947-49 immediately preceding the mature works for which he is best known.


Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1949, oil on canvas, 6’9” x 5’6”"The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them."


Rothko, White and Greens in Blue, 1957, Oil on canvas, 8’4” x 6’10” “It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as a good painting about nothing.”


The Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas, 1965-66, opened in 1971“I wanted to paint both the finite and the infinite.” “I was always looking for something more.” Mark Rothko


Isamu Noguchi (Japanese-American 1904-88) (left) Kouros. 1944-45; (center) Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1925; (right) Herodiade, stage set designed by Isamu Noguchi for Martha Graham, 1944.


(left top) Buson, by Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988). Japan, Kita Kamakura, 1952. Unglazed Karatsu stoneware, 8-1/4 x 6-1/2 x 3-3/8”. (right) Great Rock of Inner Seeking1974, basalt, H:127 7/8” with stone commemorating poet Buson near Osaka Japan; (below left) Noguchi Garden Museum, Long Island City with traditional garden in Japan.


Louise Bourgeois (French-American, b.1911), (left to right) Quarantania, 1947-53, painted wood on wood base, 62” high; photoportrait of Bourgeois by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1982; Cumul I, 1968, marble, 22 x 48”;


David Smith (American, 1906-65), Bombing Civilian Populations, 1939, cast bronze,10 x 10 7/8”; (right) Cover Exhibition Catalogue: "Medals for Dishonor by David Smith,“1940


David Smith,Hudson River Landscape,1951, Welded painted steel and stainless steel, 50 x 75 x 17”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, photograph by David Smith


(left to right) Julio Gonzalez (Spanish, 1876-1942) Monsieur Cactus I, 1939, bronze, 26” high; Picasso, Head of a Woman, 1929-30; Vladimir Tatlin, Corner Relief, 1915; Smith, Blackburn: Song of an Irish Blacksmith, 1949-50, steel and broze, 45 x 49 x 24”; Smith making a sculpture, 1951 (below left)


(left to right) David Smith, Tanktotem IX, 1960, steel, painted, 90 x 33 x 24”; Picasso, Bull’s Head, bicycle seat and handlebars, 1943; Smith, Cubi XVII, 1963, stainless steel,108 x 64 x 38”