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Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 16 September 1886, in Strasbourg; died 7 June 1966, in Basel.

Collage artist, engraver, sculptor, draughtsman, illustrator, poet.

Dadaism.

Der Moderne Bund, Dadaist groups in Zurich and Cologne, Artistes Radicaux, Das Neue Leben, Paris Surrealist Group, Abstraction-Création.

Hans Arp joined the École des Arts et Métiers in Strasbourg in 1902, at the age of 16. In 1903 he began painting and contributed to a local magazine. In 1904 he made his first trip to Paris. From 1905 to 1907 he studied under Ludwig von Hoffmann at the fine arts academy in Weimar, where he attended modern art exhibitions. He returned to Strasbourg, which his family then left for Weggis, on the edge of the Lac des Quatre Cantons in Switzerland. Between 1908 and 1910 he made a second trip to Paris and worked for a time at the Académie Julian. In Weggis he completed his first Abstract compositions and learned the art of modelling. In 1911 he co-founded the group...

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Active also active in France.

Born 1927, in Forlì (Emilia-Romagna).

Painter, sculptor.

From 1944 to 1949, Eugenio Barbieri painted in a distinctively Italian surrealist mode. During the same period, his sculpture was essentially 'realist', an approach he subsequently rejected in a bid to develop a less conventional technique capable of challenging the canons of both antique and modern sculpture. Between ...

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Active also in France.

Born 1902 , in Kattowitz, Germany (now Katowice, Poland); died 24 February 1975 , in Paris.

Photographer, Painter (gouache), sculptor, engraver, draughtsman, illustrator. Portraits.

Surrealist group.

Raised in a family of engineers, Hans Bellmer trained as a technical draughtsman at the polytechnic college in Berlin ...

Article

Peter Webb

(b Kattowitz, Germany [now Katowice, Poland], March 13, 1902; d Paris, Feb 24, 1975).

German photographer, sculptor, printmaker, painter, and writer. As a child he developed fear and hatred for his tyrannical father, who totally dominated his gentle and affectionate mother. He and his younger brother Fritz found refuge from this oppressive family atmosphere in a secret garden decorated with toys and souvenirs and visited by young girls who joined in sexual games. In 1923 Bellmer was sent by his father to study engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, but he became interested in politics, reading the works of Marx and Lenin and joining in discussions with artists of the Dada. He was especially close to George Grosz, who taught him drawing and perspective in 1924 and whose advice to be a savage critic of society led him to abandon his engineering studies in that year. Having shown artistic talent at an early age, he began designing advertisements as a commercial artist and illustrated various Dada novels, such as ...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 2 August 1944, in St-Brieuc.

Painter, sculptor.

Blancher, who is self-taught, was influenced by Academism and Surrealism, later evolving to Free Figuration and then to Abstraction with the series of the Universe Arts. He has painted and sculpted using as a base cement, canvas, cardboard, polyurethane, sand, coloured pigments and glue, then stone and steel. His point of departure is three constants: line, symbol and brush stroke. He has taken part in regional group exhibitions in Aix-en-Provence, Béziers and Montpellier. Since his first exhibition in Rennes in ...

Article

Romanian, 20th century, male.

Active in France.

Born 15 June 1903, in Piatra Neamt; died 12 March 1966, in Paris.

Painter (including mixed media), watercolourist, pastellist, sculptor, ceramicist, engraver, draughtsman. Figures, portraits, landscapes, animals.

Surrealist group.

Victor Brauner's father ran a sawmill in Piatra Neamt, a small village in the Carpathian mountains in Romania. Brauner said that his childhood was marked by the atmosphere of a 'small village by the edge of a river', where he watched 'giant tree trunks, tied into rafts, on which people lived as they went down the river'. As a child, he witnessed the spiritualist sessions in which his father participated. After a brief stay in Vienna where he began his schooling and a trip down the Danube, he was back in Romania where he was drafted into compulsory work from 1916 to 1918. A pupil at the Braila evangelical school, he developed a passion for zoology and painted in the Belu cemetery in Bucharest. Between 1921 and 1923, he took courses at the fine arts school and the free academy in Bucharest, then spent time by the Black Sea in Falticeni and Balchík, where he painted his 'Cézannian landscapes'. In 1924, he founded the review ...

Article

Sarah Wilson

(b Piatra Neamt, Moldavia, June 15, 1903; d Paris, March 12, 1966).

Romanian painter, sculptor and draughtsman, active in France. As a child, he shared his father’s passionate interest in spiritualism, heralding a lasting preoccupation with the occult. In 1912 he accompanied his family to Vienna, and from 1916 to 1918 attended the evangelical school at Brăila, near Galaţi, studying zoology with great enthusiasm; he also started to paint. In 1921 he spent a brief period at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest, where his first exhibition was held in 1924 at the Galerie Mozart. The same year, Brauner and the poet Ilarie Voronca founded the review 75HP, in which he published his manifesto of ‘Pictopoésie’ and an article on ‘Le Surrationalisme’. From 1928 until 1931 he worked with the Dada and Surrealist review UNU, which reproduced his drawings and paintings. Settling in Paris in 1930, he met Constantin Brancusi, who introduced him to photography, and Yves Tanguy, through whom he met the major Surrealists. He lived in the same building as Tanguy and Alberto Giacometti. His premonitory ...

Article

Belgian, 20th century, male.

Born 1936, in Boom.

Painter, sculptor of assemblages, installation artist.

Camiel Van Breedam exhibited principally in Belgium, notably in Brussels in 1991. He is not formally aligned with the Surrealists, although their influence suffuses his work, which bristles with strange objects and disturbing images. Van Breedam has also produced what he terms assemblages (assemblies) and environnements (environments)....

Article

Vanina Costa

(b Nantes, Sept 17, 1907; d Paris, May 8, 1977).

French painter, sculptor, draughtsman and poet. He moved in 1926 to Paris, where he became involved with Surrealism, soon afterwards publishing his first collection of poems, Opoponax (Paris, 1927). In 1934 he exhibited a series of automatic drawings, which were followed by images produced with the assistance of objets trouvés: in Street Object (1936; Paris, Pompidou), for instance, he placed a sheet of paper on the road and then drove a car over it so as to leave the imprint of the tyre tracks. Another work of this period consisted of a bus sign bearing the same letters as his initials, so that it could be read as his signature. He also produced assemblages in a Surrealist spirit, such as Morphology of Desire (wood, plaster, metal, candle and torch, 1934–7; Paris, Pompidou). After World War II Bryen turned increasingly towards painting, through which he became a leading exponent of ...

Article

Pierre Baudson

(b Haine-Saint-Pierre, nr La Louvière, April 26, 1922; d Paris, Sept 28, 2005).

Belgian painter and sculptor. After attending the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Mons he met the poet Achille Chavée at La Louvière in 1939 and joined the Surrealist group Rupture. His first paintings were influenced by Magritte and Yves Tanguy. In 1947 he joined the Jeune Peinture Belge group in Brussels and met Christian Dotremont and Pierre Alechinsky; he was also close to the Cobra group until 1951. When he discovered the art of Alexander Calder he joined the group Art Abstrait (1952). Attracted by movement, he created the Mobile Planes (1953) and the Multiplanes (1957), which were moved by electric motors. He was also developing an aesthetic of slowness, which led in 1959 to 1961 to the Luminous Punctuations and the Erectile Punctuations. After moving to France he published La Boule et le trou (1961).

In 1963 Bury created his first actual sculptures, ‘furniture’ in waxed wood incorporating balls, cubes and cylinders. In ...

Article

Jorge Alberto Manrique

(b Clayten Green, nr Chorley, Lancashire, April 6, 1917; d Mexico City, May 25, 2011).

Mexican painter, sculptor and writer of English birth. In 1936 she travelled to London, where she studied under Amédée Ozenfant and in 1937 met Max(imilian) Ernst, with whom she became involved artistically and romantically, leading to her association with Surrealism. They moved to Paris together in 1937. At the outbreak of World War II, Ernst was interned as an enemy alien, and Carrington escaped to Spain, where she was admitted to a private clinic after having a nervous breakdown; she later recounted the experience in her book En bas (1943). After marrying the Mexican poet Renato Leduc in 1941 (a marriage of convenience), she spent time in New York before settling in Mexico in 1942, devoting herself to painting. There she and Remedios Varo developed an illusionistic Surrealism combining autobiographical and occult symbolism. Having divorced Leduc in 1942, in 1946 she married the Hungarian photographer Imre Weisz.

Carrington remained committed to Surrealism throughout her career, filling her pictures with strange or fantastic creatures in surprising situations, notably horses, which appear in ...

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1913, in Milan; died 1993.

Painter (including gouache), watercolourist, engraver, sculptor, illustrator. Figures, landscapes, still-lifes, animals. Stage sets.

Clerici was a keen reader of the Surrealist review Le Minotaure in his youth, and this strongly influenced his later work.

From the outset of his career, he was active in creating stage sets for opera, ballet and the theatre, at the Fenice in Venice, the Rome opera house and other venues, for the works of Monteverdi, Purcell, Lulli, Goldoni and Stravinsky. He also worked as a book illustrator. In his more personal work, he first gained a reputation as a sculptor. After ...

Article

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Born 1908, in Os de Balaguer near Lérida; died 19 August 1998, in Lérida.

Sculptor of assemblages, draughtsman.

ADLAN Group, Paris Surrealist group.

Cristofol, initially apprenticed as a carpenter and cabinet maker, was at the same time learning how to draw, but in fact started off as a sculptor. During the early 1930s he frequented the avant-garde artistic milieux of Barcelona. In ...

Article

Fiona Bradley

(Felip Jacint )

(b Figueres, May 11, 1904; d Figueres, Jan 23, 1989).

Spanish Catalan painter, draughtsman, illustrator, sculptor, writer and film maker. One of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, his fantastic imagery and flamboyant personality also made him one of the best known. His most significant artistic contribution, however, was through his association with Surrealism.

Dalí was born into the happy, if ideologically confusing, family of a respected notary. His father was a Republican and atheist, his mother a Roman Catholic. He was named Salvador in memory of a recently dead brother. This had a profound effect: his subsequent experimentation with identity and with the projection of his own persona may have developed out of an early understanding of himself as ‘a reply, a double, an absence’ (Dalí, 1970, p. 92). His childhood provided him with the fertile memories, both true and false, that fill his autobiography and resound in his art. Catalonia remained important to Dalí, but for its landscape rather than its separatist politics. He painted for much of his life in a house he bought in Port Lligat, near the family holiday home in Cadaqués, but the radical political beliefs that his father had taught him were to be replaced by a self-conscious monarchism and Catholicism. Dalí’s first contact with painting was through Ramon Pichot (...

Article

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Also active in France.

Born 11 May 1904, in Figueras (Catalonia); died 23 January 1989, in Port-Lligat.

Painter, sculptor, printmaker, illustrator, filmmaker, writer.

Paris Surrealist group.

Dalí was born into a middle-class family in Catalonia and named after a brother who had died the year before he was born, a fact that would later affect his conception of his own identity. Dalí’s exposure to art began early. The Impressionist painter Ramon Pichot (1872–1925) was a friend of his father’s, and as a child, Dalí attended the municipal drawing school in Figueras. By the age of 10 he had painted two ambitious works: ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Vólos, Greece, July 10, 1888; d Rome, Nov 20, 1978).

Italian painter, writer, theatre designer, sculptor and printmaker. De Chirico was one of the originators of Pittura Metafisica. His paintings are characterized by a visionary, poetic use of imagery, in which themes such as nostalgia, enigma and myth are explored. He was an important source of inspiration for artists throughout Europe in the inter-war years and again for a new generation of painters in the 1980s. His abrupt stylistic changes, however, have obscured the continuity of his approach, which was rooted in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and this has often led to controversy.

His parents came from the Italian diaspora within the Ottoman empire. He was very close to his brother, Andrea (who later adopted the pseudonym Alberto Savinio). As children they identified themselves with the heavenly twins, Castor and Pollux, while their closest associates became the Argonauts (a reference to Giorgio’s birthplace, Vólos, from which, in Greek legend, the Argonauts departed to retrieve the Golden Fleece). The brothers’ inherited Greek culture was a consistently rich source of inspiration. Their father, Evaristo de Chirico, was an engineer engaged in supervising the construction of the railway in Thessaly. He encouraged his sons’ artistic talents, engaging drawing tutors for Giorgio and sending him to study with the Swiss painter ...

Article

Kirk Marlow

(b Sathonay, nr Lyon, Feb 25, 1918; d Paris, Dec 6, 1988).

French painter, draughtsman and sculptor. From the early 1950s he showed an interest in mark-making and in the rendering of calligraphic shapes engaging both the surface and the space of the paper or canvas (e.g. Sea Spears, 1954; Paris, Gal. Fournier), an approach similar to the Surrealist method of automatic writing and drawing. In 1955 he held an exhibition at the Galerie l’Etoile Scellée in Paris. André Breton co-wrote the preface to the catalogue and pointed out Degottex’s strong affinity to Zen philosophy and to the drawings of 12th-century Oriental calligraphers. Shortly after, directed in part by Breton, Degottex began a comprehensive study of the history of Oriental calligraphy and read histories of Zen painting from the 8th century to the 12th. His works from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s are an attempt to express the soul of the artist through the spirit of Zen thought. Several quickly executed strokes of paint or India ink are placed against a thinly painted contrasting monochromatic background suggesting the ‘void’ often referred to in Eastern philosophies (e.g. ...

Article

M. Dolores Jiménez-Blanco

(b La Laguna, Tenerife, Jan 7, 1906; d Paris, Dec 31, 1957).

Spanish painter and sculptor, active in France. He first lived in Paris in 1927 while working for his family’s banana export business, coming into contact there with avant-garde groups and from 1929 undergoing the influence of Surrealism. Typical of the dreamlike and highly sexual early works that formed the basis of his first one-man exhibition, held in May 1933 at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Tenerife, is Surrealist Landscape (1933; Tenerife, E. Westerdahl priv. col., see Westerdahl, p. 18).

The Surrealist influence became even more marked after Domínguez’s meeting in 1934 with André Breton and Paul Eluard; in 1935 he became a member of the official Surrealist group, playing an active part in their activities and while still in Paris encouraging the dissemination of the movement in Spain. Domínguez had a particularly strong role in the promotion of Surrealism on the Canary Islands, not only through his contributions to the avant-garde journal ...

Article

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Active in France.

Born 7 January 1906, in La Laguna (Tenerife); died 1 January 1958, in Paris.

Painter (gouache), sculptor, engraver, draughtsman. Portraits, still-lifes, landscapes. Designs for tapestries.

Surrealist group.

Oscar Domínguez was born in the town of La Laguna but brought up in Taraconte, spending his childhood among vineyards, fruit trees, volcanic peaks and beaches of black sand. His mother died shortly after he was born and he was raised by his grandmother, his two sisters and a servant. His father, though busy with his business affairs, played an important role in his son's development: he owned a collection of native mummies and a butterfly collection that proved intriguing and stimulating to the young Domínguez. His father was also an amateur painter and encouraged his son to follow his lead. As a young man Domínguez was known for his wild behaviour, only settling down when he put up his easel to paint landscapes....