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French, 20th century, male.

Born 4 December 1937, in Paris.

Painter. Figure compositions, figures, portraits. Stage costumes and sets.

Jacques Bazin began painting when still at school. Initially influenced by Cubism, he soon discovered Surrealism and was a friend of Dalí for some 20 years. He began exhibiting work in ...

Article

Andrew Causey

(b London, March 29, 1905; d Hastings, Oct 22, 1976).

English painter, illustrator and stage designer. As a student at the Chelsea Polytechnic (1921–3) and the Royal College of Art (1923–5) he became a talented figure draughtsman. In the second half of the decade he spent much time in France painting intricately detailed urban scenes, which depicted the low life of Toulon and Marseille. Works such as the watercolour Toulon (1927; priv. col., see Causey, cat. no. 33) were executed in a meticulously finished and vividly coloured decorative style. Burra usually used watercolour and tempera and occasionally collage oil paints.

Burra took ideas from Cubism, Dada (notably George Grosz) and, especially, Surrealism, but his work is also linked with the English satirical tradition of William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson and Isaac Cruikshank: Burra loved burlesque and poked fun at people’s pretensions and excesses of style and behaviour, as in John Deth (Homage to Conrad Aiken) (...

Article

Fani-Maria Tsigakou

(b Athens, Oct 21, 1910; d Athens, Oct 31, 1985).

Greek painter, stage designer and poet. He spent his school years in Constantinople (now Istanbul) and Paris. Between 1932 and 1938 he studied at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Athens under Konstantinos Parthenis and Yannis Kefallinos (1893–1957). At the same time he worked with Fotis Kontoglou. The publication in 1938 of his first collection of surrealistic poems, and the first exhibition of his paintings the following year, were enthusiastically received by the most authoritative members of the Greek literary and artistic avant-garde, such as Andreas Embirikos (1901–75) and Odysseas Elytis (b 1911). From 1941 to 1972 he held the post of professor of painting at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens. He was one of the first exponents of Surrealism in Greece, combining the universal principles of the movement with the Greek artistic and cultural tradition. Deeply influenced by de Chirico’s metaphysical painting, he attempted to create an imagery of unexpected combinations, based upon poetic imagination and colour. His paintings are characterized by the presence of mannequins placed in Neo-classical houses overlooking the Parthenon or within strange Greek interiors. The female figure is almost always present in his works, as in ...

Article

Whitney Chadwick

(b Buenos Aires, Aug 30, 1908; d Paris, Jan 18, 1996).

French painter, stage designer and illustrator of Argentine birth. She grew up in Trieste, Italy. Her first contact with art was through visits to European museums and in her uncle’s large library, where she gleaned her earliest knowledge of artists such as the Pre-Raphaelites, Aubrey Beardsley and Gustav Klimt. She had no formal training as an artist. Her first one-woman exhibition took place in Paris in 1935 and resulted in friendships with Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Victor Brauner, bringing her into close contact with the Surrealists; her sense of independence and her dislike of the Surrealists’ authoritarian attitudes kept her, however, from officially joining the movement. Nevertheless her works of the late 1930s and 1940s reflect her interest in Surrealist ideas. She also participated in the major international exhibitions organized by the group.

Fini’s almost mystical appreciation for the latent energy residing in rotting vegetation and her interest in nature’s cycles of generation and decay can be seen in works such as ...

Article

Margarita González Arredondo

(b Mexico City, Aug 26, 1896; d Mexico City, Jan 28, 1971).

Mexican painter, stage designer, illustrator and writer. He studied in Mexico City at the Escuela al Aire Libre de Coyoacán and at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, before living in Paris from 1922 to 1930, where he trained as a stage designer from 1928 to 1930 in the studio of Charles Dullin. In Paris he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and became aware of Surrealism; he was one of the first artists to introduce the style to Mexico. In his characteristic small-scale oil paintings, such as Children with Cage (Mexico City, Mus. N. A.), in which two girls are silhouetted in front of a curtain, he combined neo-Impressionist brushwork and a highly theatrical handling of light with absurd elements. He abandoned his career as a painter at an early age, concentrating in the 1930s and 1940s on designing for the stage as well as making his name as a critic and playwright....

Article

Whitney Chadwick

(b Balagne, Jan 4, 1896; d Paris, Oct 28, 1987).

French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and stage designer. His work played an important role in the development of both Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, although his independence, iconoclasm, and abrupt stylistic transitions make him difficult to classify. Masson was admitted to the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts et l’Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels at the age of 11. Through his teacher Constant Montald, he met the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren (1855–1916), who persuaded Masson’s parents to send him to Paris for further training. Masson joined the French infantry in 1915 and fought in the battles of the Somme; he was gravely wounded, and his wartime experiences engendered in him a profound philosophy about human destiny and stimulated his search for a personal imagery of generation, eclosion, and metamorphosis.

Masson’s early works, particularly the paintings of 1922 and 1923 on a forest theme (e.g. Forest, 1923; see Leiris and Limbour, p. 93), reflected the influence of André Derain, but by late ...

Article

Leonor Morales

(b Guadalajara, Feb 19, 1887; d Mexico City, Oct 13, 1968).

Mexican painter, printmaker, illustrator and stage designer. In 1903 he began studying painting in Guadalajara under Félix Bernardelli, an Italian who had established a school of painting and music there, and he produced his first illustrations for Revista moderna, a magazine that promoted the Latin American modernist movement and for which his cousin, the poet Amado Nervo, wrote. In 1905 he enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Mexico City, where Diego Rivera was also studying, and won a grant to study in Europe. After two years in Madrid, Montenegro moved in 1907 to Paris, where he continued his studies and had his first contact with Cubism, meeting Picasso, Braque and Gris.

After a short stay in Mexico, Montenegro returned to Paris. At the outbreak of World War I he moved to Barcelona and from there to Mallorca, where he lived as a fisherman for the next four years. During his stay in Europe he assimilated various influences, in particular from Symbolism, from Art Nouveau (especially Aubrey Beardsley) and from William Blake....

Article

Ronald Alley

(b Copenhagen, Oct 23, 1910; d Copenhagen, Jan 12, 1993).

Danish painter and stage designer. He studied at the art academy in Copenhagen from 1931 to 1932. In 1932 he visited Berlin with the painter Ejler Bille and saw paintings by Vasily Kandinsky, after which he began to make abstract pictures with pure, geometrical forms. He was also attracted by Surrealism and in his paintings of 1933–4 sometimes incorporated fragments of reality, such as an eye and a pair of lips, in otherwise abstract compositions, which gave them a fantastic and erotic character. In 1934 he made some paintings that were purely Surrealist (influenced by Salvador Dalí and Yves Tanguy) as well as drawings of an automatist nature; his works were already exceptionally striking in colour.

From January 1934 Mortensen was associated with the magazine Linien, edited by Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, and from September 1934 he became its co-editor with Bille. By 1935 he had turned against the more naturalistic kinds of Surrealism; he was inspired by two summers spent on the island of Bornholm to paint a series of pictures based on fantastic impressions of botanical forms, with vigorous interwoven patterns and rich colours. In ...

Article

(b Nantes, April 10, 1880; d Milan, Sept 26, 1950).

French painter, stage designer and illustrator. After working briefly in an architect’s office in Nantes, he moved to Paris and enrolled at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, which he disliked. He then worked on designs for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 before entering the Ecoles des Langues Orientales to learn Japanese and modern Greek. After this he studied at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs under Eugène-Samuel Grasset and then, from 1902 to 1904, at the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens. He first exhibited paintings in 1906 at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and in 1907 and 1908 at the Salon des Indépendants. About 1910 Roy came into contact with the Fauves and the circle of writers around them, such as Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, an association that influenced his style away from its earlier academicism. In 1913, through Alberto Savinio, he met and quickly became a friend of de Chirico, who was to be a great influence on his work. The following year Roy copied ...

Article

Celia Rabinovitch

(b Basle, July 20, 1900; d Sugar Loaf, NY, Jan 2, 1962).

American painter, printmaker, sculptor, stage designer and writer of Swiss birth. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva (1920) and at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence (1927). From this training he drew upon two dominant influences, combining a predilection for the illusionistic deep space and the clear vibrant colour of the Italian tradition with the fantastic narratives explored by earlier Swiss artists such as Johann Heinrich Füseli, Ferdinand Hodler, Urs Graf and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch.

In 1929 Seligmann moved to Paris, where he remained until 1938 and where he became associated with Surrealists. While in Paris he also became a member of Abstraction–Création and an acquaintance of Le Corbusier as well as Hans Arp, whose example led him to explore deliberately ambiguous biomorphic imagery. Although he did not formally join the Surrealist movement until 1937, he participated in Surrealist exhibitions throughout the 1930s and made use of organic and fantastic forms, often fusing natural with artificial elements. His paintings and etchings of this period, distinguished by their high degree of finish, make striking use of masks and of dancing figures constructed of abstract forms. Their sense of play, secrecy and concealment recalls the animism of the fairy tale and the Gothic tradition of northern Europe. The element of drama, tension and struggle in the dance is particularly apparent in his depiction of multiple figures. He worked in white tempera on a reddish ground, glazing over that layer with transparent colour and black outline. The highlights were added at the end in keeping with a traditional systematic approach to the illusionistic depiction of space....

Article

Whitney Chadwick

revised by Amy Lyford

(b Galesburg, IL, Aug 25, 1910; d New York, NY, Jan 31, 2012).

American painter, sculptor, illustrator, stage designer, and writer. She studied at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1932 before moving to New York, where she saw the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism (1936–7; New York, MOMA) and was inspired to become a painter. After meeting Max Ernst in 1942 she became part of the group of exiled Surrealists living in New York during World War II; see Children’s Games (1942) and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1943). Her first one-woman exhibition took place at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1944.

One of Tanning’s first Surrealist paintings was the self-portrait, Birthday (1942; Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.), influenced by the illusionistic Surrealism of René Magritte and Max Ernst that she had seen at the MOMA exhibition. To support herself in the 1940s, she worked as an advertising illustrator for Macy’s, and some of her paintings express an affinity with the conventions of fashion advertising (see ...

Article

Hans-Peter Wittwer

(b Lucerne, Aug 11, 1930; d Berlin, Nov 9, 1985).

Swiss painter, draughtsman and stage designer. He met Serge Stauffer (b 1930) in 1946, with whom he shared an admiration for Dada and Surrealism, and in particular for Hans Arp and Marcel Duchamp. In 1947 they started to exchange letters (some of which survive; see 1985 exh. cat.). Thomkins studied under Max von Moos (b 1903) at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Lucerne (1947–9), although he did not formally enrol at the college. He then attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris (1950–51). In 1952 he settled in Rheydt, near Lucerne, where he created the autobiographical figure Schwebsel, analogous to Max Ernst’s Lop-Lop bird.

In 1954 Thomkins moved to Essen. He produced the first Vexierklischees (painted photographs) in 1955 (e.g. Ornamental Asparagus is Re-potted Here, 1956; The Hague, Gemeentemus.) and began to experiment with Lackskins, produced by letting oil paint drip on to a water surface and using paper to pick up the coloured paint as it spread and mixed with the water. In these works he was experimenting with the interplay between manipulation and chance, which he had observed in the work of the Surrealists. In ...