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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

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

Mark Haworth-Booth

(b Great Falls, MT, Dec 14, 1890; d New York, Oct 22, 1954).

American designer and painter, active in England. He studied painting first, at evening classes at the Mark Hopkins Institute, San Francisco (1910–12), at the Art Institute of Chicago, with lettering (1912), and in Paris at the Académie Moderne (1913–14). In 1912 he adopted the name of an early patron, Professor Joseph McKnight (1865–1942), as a gesture of gratitude. In 1914 he settled in Britain.

From 1915 McKnight Kauffer designed posters for companies such as London Underground Railways (1915–40), Shell UK Ltd, the Daily Herald and British Petroleum (1934–6). One of his master works, Soaring to Success! Daily Herald—The Early Bird (1919; see Haworth-Booth, fig.), was derived from Japanese prints and from Vorticism. In 1920 he was a founder-member of Group R with Wyndham Lewis and others. McKnight Kauffer’s designs included illustrations for T. S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems...

Article

Leland M. Roth and Gordon Campbell

(John)

(b Vienna, Sept 22, 1890; d New York, Dec 27, 1965).

American architect, stage designer, furniture designer and writer of Austrian birth. In 1920 he worked with Adolf Loos in Vienna. He was also in contact with the artists associated with De Stijl and began experimenting with innovative theatre designs. In 1924 he produced the Endless Theatre design. The ‘Endless’ was a double-curved shell of reinforced concrete that could enclose any irregularly traditional divisions into floor, wall, and ceiling but offered the inhabitant an open interior that could be modified at will. For the theatre he adapted the ‘Endless’ by devising a double-spiral stage interconnected by ramps and rings of spectator seats. Kiesler believed that the Endless Theatre, without proscenium or curtain, projecting out into the audience, with perpetually moving walls bathed in light of ever changing colour, would promote greater interaction between actors and audience.

For the celebrated Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925...

Article

Elaine O’Brien

(Mathilde)

(b Saint Mandé, Val de Marne, Nov 17, 1910; d July 20, 1993).

French painter, active also in the USA. Lamba graduated in 1929 from the Ecole de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Employed as a designer, she was attracted to the fine art she saw in such places as the studio of the Cubist painter André Lhote, where her friend Dora Maar, the Surrealist photographer and intimate of Picasso, was studying painting. Probably influenced by Maar, Lamba experimented with photography. She read and identified closely with Symbolist poets Baudelaire and Rimbaud and illustrated Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus. In 1934 she read Les vases communicants (1932) by André Breton, whose Surrealist poetry and Communist politics captured her admiration. Lamba immediately orchestrated a meeting with Breton, which proved fateful. Breton saw in Lamba the ideal muse to his genius and she inspired his book, L’Amour fou (1937). They married months after meeting and had a daughter in 1935. For the next decade Lamba was at the centre of Breton’s circle creating Surrealist art. In ...

Article

(b Montreal, July 4, 1916; d Ile-aux-Grues, Canada, March 12, 2002).

Canadian painter, tapestry designer and weaver. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montreal. In 1941 he met Paul-Emile Borduas, who introduced him to Surrealism, and Leduc then experimented with automatism. He became one of Automatistes, Les and his painting in the later 1940s became abstract and more gestural, as in Napoleon’s Last Campaign (1946; artist’s col., see 1970 exh. cat., pl. 6). In 1946 he exhibited at the first Automatistes show in the Rue Amherst and in 1947 at the second in the Rue Sherbrooke. He left Montreal for Paris that year and on his arrival had a two-man show with Jean-Paul Riopelle at the Galerie du Luxembourg. While in Paris he rebelled against the orthodox Surrealism centred on André Breton and sent a virulently critical letter to Breton. Towards the end of his stay in Paris he became influenced by Jean Bazaine and more conscious of order in his works....

Article

Style of painting popular in Europe and the USA mainly from the 1920s to 1940s, with some followers in the 1950s. It occupies a position between Surrealism and Photorealism, whereby the subject is rendered with a photographic naturalism, but where the use of flat tones, ambiguous perspectives, and strange juxtapositions suggest an imagined or dreamed reality. The term was introduced by art historian Frank Roh in his book Nach-Expressionismus: Magischer Realismus (1925) to describe a style deriving from Neue Sachlichkeit, but rooted in late 19th-century German Romantic fantasy. It had strong connections with the Italian Pittura Metafisica of which the work of Giorgio De Chirico was exemplary in its quest to express the mysterious. The work of Giuseppe Capogrossi and the Scuola Romana of the 1930s is also closely related to the visionary elements of Magic Realism. In Belgium its surreal strand was exemplified by René(-François-Ghislain) Magritte, with his ‘fantasies of the commonplace’, and in the USA by ...

Article

Eric M. Wolf

( Houston )

American art collection that opened in 1987. In 2015 the collection contained approximately 17,000 objects, specializing in modern and contemporary art (with particular strength in Surrealism, School of Paris, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Minimalism), antiquities, Byzantine art, and the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. While the vast majority of works in the museum come from the collection of its late founders, John and Dominique Menil, de, the museum continues to collect and grow its art collection.

The main building was designed by architect Renzo Piano and was his first solo museum commission (he had previously partnered with Richard Rogers in the design of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) and his first commission in the USA. In 2013 this building won the Twenty-Five Year Award of the American Institute of Architects, recognizing architectural design of lasting significance. Sited in a residential neighbourhood in Houston’s Montrose district, the modestly scaled museum building is surrounded by bungalows, houses, and smaller satellite galleries creating a campus-like environment. These surrounding properties are owned by the Menil Foundation and are painted a grey matching that of the wooden cladding on the main building. The museum features the first iteration of Piano’s signature glass roof, here suspended over large ferro-concrete ‘leaves’ or fixed louvres, which regulate the natural light entering the galleries. In addition to gallery space, the main building contains a conservation laboratory with studios for painting, object, and paper treatment, a research library, archives, museum offices, and the second floor ‘treasure rooms’, a sort of curated art storage making a large portion of the museum’s collection immediately available to curatorial staff and visiting scholars....

Article

Mary Christian

[Elizabeth ; Lady Penrose ]

(b Poughkeepsie, NY, April 23, 1907; d Chiddingly, E. Sussex, July 21, 1977).

American photographer. She studied art briefly in Paris, before studying painting, theatrical design, and lighting at the Art Students League in New York (1927–8). From 1927 she worked as a model, Fashion photography, and writer for Vogue. Between 1929 and 1932 she lived with Man Ray in Paris and collaborated on photographs; together they developed the solarization process seen in Miller’s portrait of a woman, Paris (1930). She was a friend of Picasso and the community of Surrealism in Paris and in 1947 married Roland Penrose. From 1929 to 1934 she ran her own photographic studios in New York and then Paris, where her elegant portraits became widely sought after. After working as an independent photographer in the Middle East (1937–9), she became a member of the London War Correspondents Corps and worked for British Vogue. From 1944 to 1945 Miller was a war correspondent for the magazine in France, Germany, Romania, and on the Russian Front. Her early ...

Article

Man Ray  

Merry A. Foresta

[Radnitzky, Emmanuel ]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Aug 25, 1890; d Paris, Nov 18, 1976).

American photographer and painter. He was brought up in New York, and he adopted the pseudonym Man Ray as early as 1909. He was one of the leading spirits of Dada and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of those two influential movements (see Cadeau, 1921). Throughout the 1910s he was involved with avant-garde activities that prefigured the Dada movement. After attending drawing classes supervised by Robert Henri and George Bellows at the Francisco Ferrer Social Center, or Modern School, he lived for a time in the art colony of Ridgefield, NJ, where he designed, illustrated, and produced several small press pamphlets, such as the Ridgefield Gazook, published in 1915, and A Book of Diverse Writings.

Man Ray was a frequent visitor to Alfred Stieglitz influential gallery, Gallery 291, where he was introduced not only to a dizzying array of European contemporary art, from Auguste Rodin’s drawings to collages by Braque and Picasso, but also to photographs by Stieglitz and others. Like many American artists, he was also greatly influenced by the avant-garde art exhibited at the ...