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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

Tirza Latimer

[Markovitch, Henriette Theodora]

b Paris, Nov 22, 1907; d Paris, July 16, 1997

French photographer and painter. Maar’s father was Croatian and her mother was from La Touraine in western France. She grew up in Argentina, where her father practised architecture, and was repatriated in 1926 to study at the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, Ecole de Photographie and the Académie Julien in Paris. In the early 1930s she set up her first photography studio with her collaborator, Pierre Kéfer, sharing the darkroom with Georges Brassaï.

Maar was closely associated with the Surrealists in the mid-1930s, signing political tracts, taking photographs of the movement’s members and exhibiting in group exhibitions. She was seeing Georges Bataille when, in 1936, the poet Paul Eluard introduced her to Pablo Picasso at the Café Deux Magots. Picasso was apparently intrigued by her dark beauty, her edginess, her theatricality and her violence. According to Françoise Gilot: ‘She was wearing black gloves with little pink flowers appliquéd on them. She took off the gloves and picked up a long, pointed knife, which she began to drive into the table between her outstretched fingers to see how close she could come to each finger without actually cutting herself. From time to time she missed by a fraction of an inch and before she stopped playing with the knife, her hand was covered with blood’ (Gilot, pp. 85-6). Picasso, playing the scene out to its fullest, later enshrined the bloody gloves for display in his apartment. Picasso described Maar as his ‘weeping woman’ and painted her obsessively for almost a decade. She sat for portraits that included ...

Article

Anneke E. Wijnbeek

(b Lessines, Hainaut, Nov 21, 1898; d Schaerbeek, Brussels, Aug 15, 1967).

Belgian painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor, photographer and film maker. He was one of the major figures of Surrealism and perhaps the greatest Belgian artist of the 20th century (see Les Promenades d’Euclid, 1955). His work, while lacking the drama of conventional stylistic development, continued to be admired during the later years of his life, in spite of changes in fashion, and can be said to have continued to grow in popularity and critical esteem after his death.

Magritte studied from 1916 to 1918 at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, producing his first paintings in an Impressionist manner. Under the supervision of the Belgian painter Gisbert Combaz (1869–1941), he produced his first posters, which were the first works he exhibited in ...

Article

Ingrid Severin

(b Baden, Dec 8, 1929).

Austrian painter, printmaker and photographer. He began painting as a self-taught artist in the mid-1940s, after leaving school, and first came into contact with contemporary art through a British Council exhibition in 1947 that included work by Paul Nash, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Henry Moore and Edward Burra. Around this time he produced his first portraits, such as Rainer Dying (pencil, 1949; Vienna, Helmut Weis priv. col., see 1984 exh. cat., p. 10). While attending the Staatsgewerbeschule at Villach from 1947 to 1949 he became interested in theories of Surrealism. He had almost no academic training as an artist, leaving the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna in 1949 after only one day because of an argument with a teacher, and lasting little longer at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1950. From 1948 to 1951 he produced Surrealistic drawings representing underwater scenes and mystical forms, rendering these fantastic images in pencil as a densely worked surface. In ...

Article

Daniela Mrázková

(b Čermná, Aug 11, 1899; d Prague, March 21, 1942).

Czech painter, collagist and photographer. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and was a member of the avant-garde group Devětsil (founded 1920). He collaborated with the painter Toyen and became a leading personality in the Czech Surrealist group, which emerged in 1934. At the first Surrealist exhibition in Prague in 1935 he exhibited, besides his paintings, designs and collages, two photographic series, Frog Man and Man with Blinkers. Štyrský used photography only from 1934 to 1938, and he produced ‘pictorial poems’—collages composed of photographic fragments—as well as photographs of mundane objects removed from their surroundings. In 1941 he published illegally, with the poet Jindřich Heisler, a small book, Na jehlách těchto dnů, which included photographic sequences and verse and constituted a fierce condemnation of Hitler’s dictatorship.

Štyrský, Jindřich with J. Heisler: Na jehlách těchto dnů [Living on tenterhooks] (1941) A. Moussu: Jindřich Štyrský: Fotografické dílo...

Article

Ronald Alley

(b Malmédy, Aug 31, 1910; d March 24, 1985).

Belgian painter, sculptor and photographer, active in France. He originally intended to become a waterways and forestry inspector. His interest in art was aroused when he made his first visit to Paris in 1928 and met several artists, including Otto Freundlich. After returning to Malmédy he read the Manifeste du Surréalisme (1924) by André Breton. In 1930 he settled in Paris and made contact with the Surrealist group, attending the first showing of Luis Buñuel’s film L’Age d’or (1931). He attended the Faculté des Lettres of the Sorbonne briefly but soon left to frequent the studios of Montparnasse. About 1933–4 he attended the Ecole des Arts Appliqués for more than a year, studying mainly drawing and photography. In the course of a visit to Austria and the Dalmatian coast in 1933, he visited the island of Hvar where he made some assemblages of stones, which he drew and photographed, for example ...

Article

Wols  

Philip Cooper

[ Schulze, Alfred Otto Wolfgang ]

(b Berlin, May 27, 1913; d Champigny-sur-Marne, nr Paris, Sept 1, 1951).

German painter, draughtsman, photographer and illustrator . In 1919, when his father was appointed head of the Saxon State Chancellery, the family moved from Berlin to Dresden. The following year Wols started taking violin lessons, showing a precocious musical talent. Having finished his studies at a grammar school in Dresden in 1931 he was too young to take the Abitur examination and so decided to abandon it. Fritz Busch, the conductor of the Dresden Opera, then offered to get him a post as a first violinist with an orchestra. Instead he worked for a few months in the studio of the photographer Gena Jonas in Dresden while also spending time as a garage mechanic.

In 1932 Wols travelled to Frankfurt am Main to study anthropology under the German ethnologist Leo Frobenius, a friend of the family, at the Afrika-Institut, though without his Abitur the plan was short-lived. He then moved to Berlin and entered the ...