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Article

Horacio Safons

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

Argentine painter, draftsman, 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

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 Fuentes Pérez and others 1987). His subtle tropes and allusions had a particularly strong appeal to poets such as ...

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

(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, ...

Article

Ronald Alley

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

Cuban painter, draftsman, 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

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

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

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Apr 29, 1931).

Argentine painter. He was self-taught and showed Surrealist-influenced pictures at his first one-man exhibition in 1956. After a brief period of lyrical abstraction, he returned to figurative references within an essentially Abstract Expressionist style under the influence of Willem de Kooning. After 1961, when he, Ernesto Deira, Luis Felipe Noé, and Jorge de la Vega held an exhibition, Otra figuración, at the Galería Peuser, Buenos Aires, he adopted a more monumental style concerned with gesture and expression in works such as Living a Little Every Day (1963; Buenos Aires, Mus. N. B.A.), often using innovative supports and submerging the human figure in a virtually abstract setting; in these works he favored violent colors and graphic devices borrowed from the mass media, reflecting his own experience in the advertising business. From 1977 Macció no longer treated figures in a fragmented form, picturing them instead like distorted shapes in an early stage of development. From ...

Article

(Antonio Sebastián)

(b Santiago, Nov 11, 1911; d Tarquinia, Nov 23, 2002).

Chilean painter, printmaker, and draftsman. He was educated at the Sacré Coeur Jesuit College and at the Catholic University of Santiago, where he studied architecture (1929–1931). In 1933 he went to Europe and worked in Le Corbusier’s atelier in Paris. At the end of 1934 Matta visited Spain, where he met the poet and playwright Federico García Lorca (1898–1936), and Salvador Dalí. The following year he went to Scandinavia (where he met the architect Alvar Aalto) and to Russia, where he worked on housing design projects. He was in London for a short period in 1936 and worked with Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy. Employment with the architects of the Spanish Republican pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition (1937) brought him into close contact with Picasso’s Guernica (1937; Madrid, Prado), which greatly impressed him. Another important influence at this time was Marcel Duchamp, whose work he first saw in ...

Article

Louise Noelle

(b Guatemala City, Dec 2, 1891; d Mexico City, Dec 21, 1985).

Guatemalan painter and printmaker. He came to painting through music, when incipient deafness made him exchange his piano for paintbrushes. His attendance at meetings organized by the Spanish Catalan painter Jaime Sabartés (1881–1968) proved decisive, for they brought him into contact with the paintings of Picasso; in 1912 he traveled to Paris, armed with a letter of introduction from Sabartés to Picasso. In Paris he frequented the studios of Amedeo Modigliani, Kees van Dongen, and Hermengildo Anglada Camarassa and learned about the artistic avant-garde. He also visited other European cultural centers.

On his return to Guatemala, Mérida, together with Rafael Yela Gunther, began to revalue indigenous art not for its folkloric aspects but for its essential local values prior to the Spanish conquest. At exhibitions held in Guatemala in 1919 and in Mexico in 1920, Mérida showed works such as Profile (1920; priv. col., see Nelken 1961...

Article

Leonor Morales

revised by Deborah Caplow

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

Mexican mural and easel 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. He produced his first illustrations for Revista moderna, a magazine that promoted the Latin American modernist movement and to which his cousin, the poet Amado Nervo, also contributed poetry. In 1905 he enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Mexico City; his teachers included Antonio Fabrés, Julio Ruelas, Leandro Izaguirre (1867–1941), and Germán Gedovius. Some of his fellow students were Diego Rivera, Francisco de la Torre, Saturnino Herrán, Angel Zárraga, and Jorge Enciso. In 1905 Montenegro won a grant to travel to Europe, first studying at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. In 1907 Montenegro moved to Paris, where he continued his studies and immersed himself in the world of contemporary art, meeting Cocteau, Picasso, Braque, and Gris, among others....

Article

Juan Pérez de Ayala

(b Malaga, Feb 16, 1887; d Mexico, April 25, 1955).

Spanish painter, poet, critic and art historian. He studied history of art at the university of Madrid and worked as a medievalist at the Centro de Estudios Históricos (1910–16). He was an archivist at the Instituto Jovellanos in Gijón (1921–2) and head of archives at the Palacio Real (1931–6); concurrently he was a tutor at the Residencia de Estudiantes (1917–36) and director of the journal Arquitectura (1927–33). Having been exiled from Madrid to Valencia with other artists and intellectuals in November 1936, he was sent in 1937 to the USA as part of a cultural propaganda visit. While there, he was invited by the Mexican government to base himself in Mexico, where he remained until 1955; he catalogued the works of art deposited in the Bienes Nacionales and worked for both Casa de España en México and the Colegio de México....

Article

Ana Tapias

(b Maracaibo, Aug 31, 1951).

Venezuelan painter. He studied at the Escuela de Arte ‘Neptalí Rincón’ in Maracaibo from 1967 to 1970. In his work he used elements derived from Surrealism to create portraits containing imaginary landscapes and figures, as in the Blue Bird (1977; priv. col., see 1977 exh. cat., fig.). He won a number of important national awards, including first prize in the National Salon of Young Artists (1975) and first honorary mention in painting in the First National Biennale of Young Artists (1981) at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas. Niño also represented Venezuela in the São Paulo Biennale of 1982, in the 12th Biennale at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, and in the 42nd Venice Biennale (1986).

Carmelo Niño (exh. cat. by J. Calzadilla, R. Montero Castro and S. Antillano, Caracas, Gal. A. N., 1977)Los espacios sublimados (exh. cat., Caracas, Cent. A. Euro-Amer.)...

Article

Andreas Neufert

(b Vienna, 1905; d Taxco/Mexico, 1959).

Austrian painter, writer, and theorist active in Mexico. After a short commitment to the Abstraction-Création group, he joined the French Surrealists in 1935. He was soon noted for his fumage paintings, by which he drew on the canvas with the random and evanescent patterns of smoke from candles (e.g. Pays interdit, oil and smoke on canvas, 1936–1937; Berlin, priv. col.; see Neufert 2015, pl. I). With this invention he had unexpectedly succeeded in fusing Surrealist and Cubist image-making. With his fumages and portentous analogical objects (e.g. Nuage articulé, an umbrella covered with natural sponges, 1937; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.) he was one of the main artists responsible for the design of the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme that opened in January 1938 in Georges Wildenstein’s Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris. Following Breton’s idea to transform the exhibition’s space into an artwork of its own, Paalen installed a real pond in the main hall, titled ...

Article

Andrea García Rodríguez

[Philippot, Alice Marie Yvonne]

(b Chenecey-Buillon, Quingey, Jun 8, 1904; d Mexico City, Oct 3, 1987).

Mexican painter and poet of French birth. In the early stage of her career, she dedicated herself to writing poetry, encouraged by André Breton and the Surrealist group. She published three books of poems, which encompass her considerations on time, the mystical forces of nature, and the universe. Some years later, when she moved to Mexico, she began painting, motivated by the new scenery. Her paintings portray natural landscapes, popular festivities, imaginary cities, and zoomorphic characters.

She grew up in Paris and in 1931 she met the Austrian artist Wolfgang Paalen, who would become her husband three years later. Together, they traveled to Spain to visit the caves of Altamira, a place that caused a huge impact on them and was continually evocated in her work, as in Tempète de sable (1948) and Happy Hunting Grounds (1946). Once settled in Paris, in 1935, Rahon and Paalen met Paul Eluard. From then on, they started frequenting the Surrealist group, where Paalen showed his Surrealist objects and Rahon read her free verse poems. Her first book entitled ...

Article

Luis Enrique Tord

(b Arequipa, Aug 19, 1940).

Peruvian painter and printmaker. He studied in the Netherlands and produced fantastic Surrealist-influenced pictures, in which he made reference to Flemish and Italian painting of the Renaissance. In a number of his dreamlike paintings figures appear to have emerged from a great box of robot toys, contributing to the painting’s disconcertingly cold atmosphere....

Article

(María Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la)

(b Guanajuato, Dec 13, 1886; d Mexico City, Nov 24, 1957).

Mexican painter and draughtsman. He was one of the most important figures in the Mexican mural movement and won international acclaim for his vast public wall paintings, in which he created a new iconography based on socialist ideas and exalted the indigenous and popular heritage in Mexican culture. He also executed large quantities of easel paintings and graphic work.

Rivera’s artistic precocity was recognized by his parents, both of whom were teachers. He was drawing at two, taking art courses at nine and enrolled at the Academia de S Carlos in Mexico City at eleven. There the quality of his work, especially his landscape painting, earned him a scholarship at fifteen and a government pension at eighteen. At nineteen he was awarded a travel grant to Europe, and in 1907 he went to Spain, settling in Paris two years later. In November 1910 he returned to Mexico for an exhibition of his work at the Academia, which was part of the Mexican Centennial of Independence celebrations. The Mexican Revolution began the day the exhibition opened, and Rivera returned to Paris early in ...

Article

Margarita González Arredondo

(b Anglés, nr. Girona, Dec 16, 1908; d Mexico City, Oct 8, 1963).

Spanish painter, active in Mexico. She began her studies at the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid in 1934 and even in her earliest work showed a tendency to work from the imagination. In 1937, while living in Paris, she married the French poet Benjamin Péret (1899–1959) and through him became involved in the activities of the Surrealists (e.g. The Anatomy Lesson, 1935). The influence of Surrealism is apparent in early works such as Vegetal Puppets (1938; priv. col., see Kaplan 1988, 62), in which the elongated floating figures are formed out of wax dripped onto an unprimed wooden surface. After the occupation of France by Germany, Varo and Péret fled in 1942 to Mexico, where many exiled Surrealists, notably Leonora Carrington and Wolfgang Paalen, were already active.

Varo did not begin to paint full-time until 1953, and her most characteristic work dates from this period. She was greatly influenced by André Breton in her cultivation of dreamlike moods, but she rejected an unswerving reliance on the subconscious in favor of deliberate fantasies. Her painstaking technique suggests a direct debt to medieval art, for example to the Romanesque frescoes of her native Catalonia, especially in the treatment of architectural elements. In typical early works, such as ...

Article

Katherine Chacon

(b Valencia, Venezuela, Aug 24, 1923; d Caracas, Apr 22, 2014).

Venezuelan painter, sculptor, and ceramicist. He started painting around 1942. A leading figure of the mid-20th-century movement for the renewal of Venezuelan painting, Viga’s plastic language combines elements from Venezuela’s indigenous and African heritage with eclectic formal resolutions derived from Cubism, Constructivism, Surrealism, and Informalism.

A free mode of creation prevailed in Vigas’s work since the beginning, when he used to paint fantastic motifs, flowers, and still lifes that although they did not show a definite style, gave glimpses, in the forthright use of color and figures, of many of the features of what he would later paint. In 1949 Vigas moved to Caracas and became associated with the Taller Libre de Arte, a group that sought new directions for national painting. During this time, Vigas began to make his Brujas series, inspired by his encounter with Venezuelan Pre-Columbian art, especially the icon known as the Venus of Tacarigua. From the figures of this time—and except for some short periods—his language became characterized by the creation of fantastic female beings who, as terrible goddesses or demons, seem to emerge from a cosmogony linked to nature and the land, expressed in a highly stylized way and firm brushstrokes. During this period, Vigas developed a deeply personal iconography, imaginative and fantastical, in a modern update of Latin American cultural roots. With ...