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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(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

Francis M. Naumann

(b Blainville, Normandy, July 28, 1887; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Oct 2, 1968).

French painter, sculptor and writer, active also in the USA. The art and ideas of Duchamp, perhaps more than those of any other 20th-century artist, have served to exemplify the range of possibilities inherent in a more conceptual approach to the art-making process. Not only is his work of historical importance—from his early experiments with Cubism to his association with Dada and Surrealism—but his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. Duchamp refused to accept the standards and practices of an established art system, conventions that were considered essential to attain fame and financial success: he refused to repeat himself, to develop a recognizable style or to show his work regularly. It is the more theoretical aspects implicit to both his art and life that have had the most profound impact on artists later in the century, allowing us to identify Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of the modern era....

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

Birgit Hessellund

[Carlsen, Frederik Wilhelm (Christian)]

(b Copenhagen, Feb 7, 1909; d Copenhagen, Nov 24, 1995).

Danish painter and sculptor. He studied briefly at technical college and at the school of graphic arts of the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen, but he was largely self-taught. Freddie painted his earliest abstracts in 1926, but in 1929 he became acquainted with André Breton’s periodical La Révolution surréaliste. The following year he introduced Surrealism to Scandinavia with the painting Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (priv. col.), which he showed at Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling (‘Artists’ Autumn Exhibition’). In 1934 he met the painters Harry Carlsson and Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen. Through Bjerke-Petersen, Freddie became involved with the international Cubist-Surrealist exhibition at Den Frie (the Free Exhibition) in Copenhagen in January 1935. Freddie exhibited there along with Magritte, Man Ray, Arp, Miró, Dalí, Yves Tanguy and others. He also participated in later large international Surrealist exhibitions.

Freddie became one of the most important Surrealists in Denmark, and his work caused scandals from the beginning. When, in March 1937...

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

Ronald Alley

(b Sagua la Grande, Dec 8, 1902; d Paris, Sept 11, 1982).

Cuban painter, draughtsman, and sculptor. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic but was also introduced at an early age to African superstitions and witchcraft. In 1916 he moved to Havana, where he began to make studies of the tropical plants in the Botanical Gardens while studying law at the insistence of his family. He studied painting at the Escuela de Bellas Artes from 1918 to 1923 but disliked the academic teaching and preferred to paint out of doors, in the streets. He left for Spain in autumn 1923, remaining there until 1938. In the mornings he attended the studio of the reactionary painter Fernando Alvarez de Sotomayor, curator of the Prado, who was also the teacher of Salvador Dalí, but in the evenings he worked in the studio where the young non-conformist painters gathered. He was fascinated by the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel I in the Prado and by the Museo Arqueológico Nacional; it was during this period that he also became aware of the work of Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. His early pictures were in the modern Spanish realist tradition (e.g. ...

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

José Corredor-Matheos

(b Barcelona, April 20, 1893; d Palma de Mallorca, Dec 25, 1983).

Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker and decorative artist (see fig.). He was never closely aligned with any movement and was too retiring in his manner to be the object of a personality cult, like his compatriot Picasso, but the formal and technical innovations that he sustained over a very long career guaranteed his influence on 20th-century art. A pre-eminent figure in the history of abstraction and an important example to several generations of artists around the world, he remained profoundly attached to the specific circumstances and environment that shaped his art in his early years. An acute balance of sophistication and innocence and a deeply rooted conviction about the relationship between art and nature lie behind all his work and account in good measure for the wide appeal that his art has continued to exercise across many of the usual barriers of style.