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Article

Horacio Safons

(b Federal, Entre Ríos, Aug 22, 1928; d Buenos Aires, Feb 19, 1996).

Argentine painter, draughtsman and collagist. He studied under Juan Batlle Planas from 1950 to 1953 and quickly established the terms of his work, rooted ideologically in Surrealism and indebted in particular to the work of René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. All the elements of his mature art are evident in an early painting, Burning of the Hasidic School in Minsk in 1713 (1954; artist’s col.): architecture, space, light and ordered series. He developed an essentially intellectual approach, working in a variety of media (paintings, drawings, gouaches and collages) in rigorous sequences and picturing objects in cold impersonal light that confers on them a sense of distant majesty. The most common motif is that of a geometric, almost abstract structure, often in the form of a tower pierced by rows of large plain windows. Aizenberg’s work, while far removed from the Surrealist presumption of achieving a synthesis of wakefulness and dream, acquires its strength through the ordering of the unreal and the strange in the search for a transcendent essence capable of perturbing and jolting the viewer by bringing into play the archetypes of silence and solitude....

Article

Elizabeth Ferrer

(b Mexico City, Feb 4, 1902; d Mexico City, Oct 19, 2002).

Mexican photographer. Álvarez Bravo’s interest in photography began in his adolescence while living in Mexico City in the 1910s, the years of the Mexican Revolution. He left school at the age of 13 to help support his family but pursued his creative interests by studying foreign photography magazines and receiving instruction from the German photographer based in Mexico, Hugo Brehme. Álvarez Bravo’s earliest images, made with a large-format Graflex camera, reflected the romantic pictorialist mode identified with Brehme’s generation. By 1925, however, he turned to a modernist aesthetic inspired by the photographs Edward Weston made in Mexico in the mid-1920s as well as those of Tina Modotti, who accompanied Weston and remained in the country until 1930. During this era Álvarez Bravo came to know Modotti as well as the artists who led Mexico’s cultural renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo. Also central to this circle was ...

Article

François-Marc Gagnon

Canadian group of artists active during the 1940s and the early 1950s, led by Paul-Emile Borduas. They were named by Tancrède Marcil jr in a review of their second Montreal exhibition, published in February 1947 in Le Quartier latin, the student journal for the University of Montreal, Quebec. The earliest characteristic example of the group’s work was Borduas’s Green Abstraction (1941; Montreal, Mus. F.A.), a small oil painting intended as an equivalent to the automatic writing of the Surrealist poet André Breton; it was succeeded by a series of 45 gouaches exhibited by Borduas in the foyer of the Théâtre Ermitage in Montreal from 25 April to 2 May 1942 and by other works painted before he moved to New York in 1953.

The group began to form around Borduas in the 1940s when students came to his studio to discuss Marxism, Surrealism and psychoanalysis, virtually forbidden subjects in Quebec at this time. Among these younger artists were ...

Article

Bio Art  

Suzanne Anker

From Anatomical studies to landscape painting to the Biomorphism of Surrealism, the biological realm historically provided a significant resource for numerous artists. More recently, Bio Art became a term referring to intersecting domains that comprise advances in the biological sciences and their incorporation into the plastic arts. Of particular importance in works of Bio Art is to summon awareness of the ways in which the accelerating biomedical sciences alter social, ethical and cultural values in society.

Coming to the fore in the early 1990s Bio Art is neither media specific nor locally bounded. It is an international movement with practitioners in such regions as Europe, the US, Russia, Australia and the Americas. Several subgenres of Bio Art exist within this overarching term:

(i) Artists who employ the iconography of the 20th and 21st century sciences, including molecular and cellular genetics, transgenically altered living matter and reproductive technologies as well as the diverse fields of neuroscience. All traditional media such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing are employed to convey novel ways of representing life forms. Images of chromosomes, the double helix, magnetic resonance imaging body scans and neuroanatomy comprise this iconography. The molecular underpinnings of the living world have also become visible through high technological instrumentation when artists incorporate such pictorialisations as part of their practice. Representations span both genotypic variations and phenotypic ones. Artists include Suzanne Anker (...

Article

François-Marc Gagnon

(b Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Nov 1, 1905; d Paris, Feb 22, 1960).

Canadian painter. He studied with the artist Ozias Leduc and from 1923 to 1927 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Montreal. After a short stay in Paris (1928–30), he lived in Montreal until 1941, when he moved to Saint-Hilaire. As a result of the Depression, Borduas was unable to continue the career of church decorator, for which his training with Leduc had prepared him, and found work as an art teacher. His appointment at the Ecole de Meuble, Montreal, in 1937 was a turning-point, making him an influential figure among a group of students, including Jean-Paul Riopelle, who were soon to be known as Automatistes, Les.

Borduas’s painting developed from a figurative mode, influenced at first by Maurice Denis and later by Cézanne, to a personal version of Surrealism inspired by the writing of André Breton. His Automatiste period is characterized by paintings in which ‘objects’ seem to float in space in front of an endlessly receding background, as in ...

Article

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

(b Havana, Jan 5, 1934; d Paris, Mar 30, 2011).

Cuban painter. A self-taught artist, he forsook law studies in 1952 to dedicate himself to painting and held his first individual exhibition in the Galería Cubana in Havana in 1955. In 1959 he settled in Paris, where he became an important figure in the circle of Latin American émigré artists. In 1961 he met André Breton and joined what was left of the Surrealist group.

Camacho derived his stylized organic forms from the quasi-abstract Surrealism of Yves Tanguy, and his totemistic images from Wifredo Lam. Gradually he integrated into his complex and enigmatic art other interests such as alchemy, jazz and flamenco, as well as the bird life of French Guiana and Venezuela (which he studied at first hand in 1974 and 1975), as in, for example, Bird, Night (1980; Mario Amignet priv. col., see 1987 exh. cat.). His subtle tropes and allusions had a particularly strong appeal to poets such as ...

Article

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

(b Matanzas, Apr 10, 1927; d Havana, Feb 9, 2001).

Cuban sculptor, active in France. He studied under Juan José Sicre, and at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes “San Alejandro” in Havana (1943–1949). He settled in Paris in 1955 and became involved with the Surrealists. He also started to consider his African heritage and to incorporate Dogon totems in his work (e.g. Sanedrac, 1957; bronze cast, 1974; see Pierre 1988, p. 5). Brancusi and Arp were significant influences, and affinities can also be traced between Cárdenas’s use of line to evoke magical transformations and the works of two other Cubans based in Paris, Wifredo Lam and Jorge Camacho. Working in marble, bronze, and stone, he often used familiar images such as birds, flowers, or the female nude as the bases for his lyrical abstractions (e.g. Engraved Torso, marble, 1976; see Pierre 1988, p. 22). The combination of these images of life with patterns suggesting infinite repetition became a central element in his work and constitute a synthesis of abstraction and reference. He undertook monumental commissions in France, Israel, Austria, Japan, and Canada, and his works are housed in collections worldwide, including the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas, the Musée d’Ixelles, Bruxelles, and the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, Saint Etienne, France....

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

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Sept 6, 1930).

Argentine painter. A self-taught artist, in 1952 he began working in a Surrealist style, finding in it a profound impetus that decisively affected the later direction of his work. In 1957 he became a member of the Siete Pintores Abstractos, hinting at the oscillations in his art between geometric abstraction on the one hand and subconscious, fantastic and irrational imagery on the other. In 1962 he painted the first of his Bestiaries, in which he created a world of hallucinatory creatures such as Ghelderade (1963; Buenos Aires, Mus. N. B.A.)

From 1972 Chab painted apparently abstract pictures in which one can discern suggestions of objects and organic forms. By 1977 his works again tended more to the geometric, with a suggestively poetic atmosphere, as in Axial Figure (1975; Buenos Aires, Mus. A. Contemp.). In the series of Landscapes that he exhibited in 1984 he returned to a pictorial language reminiscent of ...

Article

Philip Cooper

(b Nyack, NY, Dec 24, 1903; d Flushing, NY, Dec 29, 1972)

American sculptor, film maker and writer. Cornell studied from 1917 to 1921 at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. After leaving the Academy he took a job as a textile salesman for the William Whitman Company in New York, which he retained until 1931. During this time his interest in the arts developed greatly. Through art reviews and exhibitions he became acquainted with late 19th-century and contemporary art; he particularly admired the work of Odilon Redon. He also saw the exhibitions of American art organized by Alfred Stieglitz and became interested in Japanese art, especially that of Andō Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. Following a ‘healing experience’ in 1925 he became a convert to Christian Science.

In 1931 Cornell lost his job as a salesman. In November 1931 he discovered Julien Levy’s newly opened gallery in New York and showed Levy some of his collages. Employing curious juxtapositions, these were composed from cut-out fragments of engravings as in ...

Article

(b Milan, Feb 19, 1909; d New York, NY, April 25, 2008).

American painter and sculptor of Italian birth. He studied economics at the Università degli Studi, Pavia, and in 1934 moved to the USA, where he attended the New School for Social Research and the Art Students’ League in New York. His first one-man shows were in New York in 1942, at the New School for Social Research and the Passedoit Gallery. At this stage he was clearly drawn to Surrealism. This was reinforced by meeting André Breton and coming into contact with Duchamp and the other European Surrealists in New York at the time. A typical work of this period, St Elmo’s Fire (1944; New York, MOMA), contains strange organic formations suggestive of underwater life. Donati was one of the organizers of the Exposition internationale du Surréalisme held in Paris in the summer of 1947, to which he contributed a painting and two sculptures. In the late 1940s he responded to the crisis in Surrealism by going through a Constructivist phase, from which he developed a calligraphic style and drew on to melted tar, or diluted paint with turpentine. He also became associated with ...

Article

Mona Hadler

(b Cologne, June 25, 1920; d New York, Feb 6, 1984).

American painter of German birth. His father was the prominent Surrealist artist Max(imilian) Ernst and his mother was the art historian and journalist Louise [Lou] Straus-Ernst. In 1935 he was apprenticed as a typographer in the printing firm of J. J. Augustin in Glückstadt where he set type for anthropological studies. The company worked to attain a visa for Ernst, whose mother was Jewish, and he departed Germany one week before Kristallnacht in 1938; his mother was to die in Auschwitz at the end of the war. Ernst passionately recounts these events in his memoir, A Not-So-Still Life, published in 1984, the year of his death.

In 1941, on the recommendation of gallerist Julien Levy, Ernst was employed by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. After welcoming his father to the city, he began to work for Peggy Guggenheim, which placed him securely within the Surrealist émigré community and burgeoning New York school along with friends such as the painter William Baziotes. His career as an art dealer advanced in tandem with his painting production. With Eleanor Lust, he opened the experimental Norlyst Gallery in ...

Article

Malcolm Gee

(b Brühl, nr Cologne, April 2, 1891; d Paris, April 1, 1976).

German painter, printmaker, and sculptor, naturalized American in 1948 and French in 1958. He was a major contributor to the theory and practice of Surrealism (see Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale, 1924). His work challenged and disrupted what he considered to be repressive aspects of European culture, in particular Christian doctrine, conventional morality, and the aesthetic codes of Western academic art. Until the mid-1920s he was little known outside a small circle of artists and writers in Cologne and Paris, but he became increasingly successful from c. 1928 onwards. After 1945 he was respected and honoured as a surviving representative of a ‘heroic’ generation of avant-garde artists.

Article

Margaret Moore Booker

(Eva)

(b Long Creek, NC, Dec 1, 1892; d Wilmington, NC, Dec 16, 1987).

African American painter. As a self-taught artist who has been labeled a southern folk artist, outsider artist, a Surrealist painter and a visionary, Evans created highly personal works inspired by her private and very vivid dream world.

The descendant of a Trinidadian woman brought to the United States as a slave, Evans was the only child of farmers who lived in rural Pender County, NC. In early childhood she moved with her parents to Wilmington, NC, where she attended school. At 16 she married Julius Evans and had three sons. She worked as a domestic and later as gatekeeper at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington (from 1948 to 1974). A highly religious woman, she attended St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Beginning in her youth, she often heard voices and had waking dreams and visions. After a voice (which she believed was a message from God) told her to “draw or die,” Evans, then in her early 40s, began to record the complex imagery of her visions. Using pencil and wax crayons, she created semi-abstract forms on scraps of paper. By the late 1940s she worked in crayon, pencil and ink, and created scenes that were a combination of abstract and realistic forms. Later she experimented with oil paints, and by ...

Article

Harry Rand

[Adoian, Vosdanig Manoog]

(b Dzov, Turkish Armenia, April 15, 1904; d Sherman, CT, July 21, 1948).

American painter of Armenian birth. One of the most illustrious artists of the post-war New York School, he began his life in possibly the most obscure circumstances of any international modern master. His father emigrated to the USA to avoid conscription into the Turkish Army in World War I; in the Turkish persecution of the Armenians, Gorky’s mother died in her son’s arms after a 120-mile march. With his sister (who later figured prominently in his paintings) Gorky made his way to the coast and then, by ship, to the USA, arriving at New York in April 1920.

Gorky settled into a community of Armenians in New England and attempted a reconciliation with his father, but when that failed he moved from Massachusetts to New York City (c. 1925). There he assumed his pseudonym, claiming to be a cousin of the Russian writer, Maksim Gor’ky whose name, however, was a ...

Article

Adam M. Thomas

[Osvaldo Luigi]

(b Cairo, Egypt, April 9, 1906; d Amagansett, NY, Sept 3, 1956).

American painter of Italian origin. After residing in Europe, his family relocated to New York in 1914. Guglielmi studied at the National Academy of Design from 1920 to 1925 and became a naturalized citizen in 1927. He arrived at his first mature painting style in the early 1930s. Guglielmi was among the principal practitioners of Social Surrealism, an American variant of European Surrealist art that adapted some of its imagery and techniques but eschewed its sexual symbolism and psychic automatism. Guglielmi rooted his pictures in the physical world in order to address social and political issues but, unlike Social Realism, did so through the use of unexpected or irrational juxtapositions and disorienting variations in scale. Although Guglielmi was not actively engaged in politics, many of his paintings contain expressly political, if sometimes ambiguous, content, such as Phoenix (The Portrait in the Desert) (1935; Lincoln, U. NE, Sheldon Mem. A.G.), in which a foreground portrait of Vladimir Lenin presides over a deserted landscape of factories and rubble....

Article

Robert Saltonstall Mattison

(b New York, March 10, 1917; d Dec 21, 1992).

American sculptor, painter, and photographer. Throughout his career he was devoted to Surrealist ideas. He had no formal training, but at schools in New York, Colorado, and California he graduated in biology and chemistry, which may have influenced his interest in primal origins and the biomorphic shapes in his sculptures and paintings. He worked briefly as a commercial photographer in New York around 1940, experimenting in 1941 with a thermographic technique invented by the Surrealists in which the negative was melted to distort the image. From 1941 to 1944 he was one of the Americans most closely associated with the European Surrealist emigrés, and he edited the Surrealist magazine VVV with assistance from Duchamp, Breton, and Ernst. He became committed to the Surrealists’ exploration of psychic automatism and to their use of mythological subjects.

Hare’s first sculptures were plaster works produced in the mid-1940s and exhibited at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery in New York in ...

Article

(b London, Dec 27, 1901; d Paris, May 4, 1988).

English printmaker, draughtsman and painter, active in France and the USA. He came from a family of painters, including George Hayter, but started his career by studying chemistry and geology at King’s College, London (1917–21). After graduating he worked in the Persian Gulf for several years for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. In 1926 he settled in Paris, where he enrolled at the Académie Julian and studied burin engraving privately with the Polish artist Joseph Hecht (1891–1951), who also taught Anthony Gross. Hayter began to take his own pupils in 1927 and in 1933 named his workshop Atelier 17, after the street number of his studio in the Rue Campagne-Première. The hallmark of the workshop was its egalitarian structure, breaking sharply with the traditional French engraving studios by insisting on a cooperative approach to labour and technical discoveries. In 1929 Hayter was introduced to Surrealism by Yves Tanguy and ...

Article

(b Paris, July 11, 1906; d Paris, June 1974).

French writer and collagist. He spent his childhood in Argentina, moving to Paris at the age of 16. He greatly admired Dada, which was by then largely exhausted in Paris. In 1928 he collaborated with Henri d’Arche on the film La Perle and soon after became involved in Surrealism, joining the group in 1930. He met many of its members, including André Breton, Paul Eluard, Miró and Yves Tanguy, who regularly gathered at his bookshop in the Boulevard Montparnasse. He was mainly occupied as a poet and writer, though he also took part in other Surrealist activities such as producing collages. He participated in the Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Pierre Colle in Paris (1933) and also in the International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries, London (1936). During his association with Surrealism, Hugnet became one of the movement’s chief apologists. He contributed articles to the catalogue of the ...

Article

(b Mexico City, July 6, 1907; d Mexico City, July 13, 1954).

Mexican painter. She began to paint while recovering in bed from a bus accident in 1925 that left her seriously disabled. Although she made a partial recovery, she was never able to bear a child, and she underwent some 32 operations before her death in 1954. Her life’s work of c. 200 paintings, mostly self-portraits, deals directly with her battle to survive. They are a kind of exorcism by which she projected her anguish on to another Frida, in order to separate herself from pain and at the same time confirm her hold on reality. Her international reputation dates from the 1970s; her work has a particular following among Latin Americans living in the USA.

Small scale, fantasy and a primitivistic style help to distance the viewer from the horrific subject-matter of such paintings as Henry Ford Hospital (oil on sheet metal, 1932; Mexico City, Mrs D. Olmedo priv. col., see Herrera, ...