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Surrealism-Plays is a site devoted to the history and creative works of the Surrealist Movement, as well as the anti-tradition of avant-garde theatre.



SURREASLIST ARTISTS


Below you will find biographical information on most of the artists associated with the Surrealist Movement.

Contents:
Jean (Hans) Arp, Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner,
Leonora Carrington, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí,
Paul Delvaux, Oscar Dominguez, Marcel Duchamp,
Max Ernst, Leonor Fini, Alberto Giacometti,
Valentine Hugo, Frida Kahlo, Wilfredo Lam,
René Magritte, Georges Malkine, André Masson,
Roberto Matta, Joan Miró, Meret Oppenheim,
Richard Oelze, Wolfgang Paalen, Francis Picabia,
Man Ray, Pierre Roy, Kay Sage, Jindrich Styrský,
Yves Tanguy, Dorethea Tanning, Toyen & Remedios Varo.

Important Precursors:
Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel and Giuseppe Arcimboldo.


Jean (Hans) Arp (1886-1966)


A founding member of the Zurich and Cologne Dada groups, Arp also participated in the first Surrealist exhibit in Paris in 1925. Utilizing spontaneity and chance, he often cut shapes at random, either from wood or paper, and arranged them just as impulsively, resulting in an array of surprising images. Though abstract, Arp's creations sometimes suggest identifiable forms, such as human faces and bodies, exhibiting both humor and sensuality. His output includes paintings, sculptures, mobiles, collages and poetry. Among his many notable works are The Egg Board (1922), Mustache Hat (1923), Dancer (1925) and Woman (1927).

Hans Bellmer (1902-1975)

A German artist and writer, Bellmer joined forces with the Paris Surrealists during the 1930s, contributing to the periodical Minotaure. He is perhaps best known for The Doll, a series of startling objects, photographs and drawings, depicting doll parts arranged in provocative positions. Bellmer's highly erotic imagery exhibits a personal fascination with the human form, often presented in a disjointed and fragmented manner. He created paintings, sculptures, photographs, gouaches and drawings. Among his notable works are The Machine Gun in a State of Grace (1937), Peppermint Tower in Honor of Greedy Little Girls (1942), A Thousand Girls (1950), Self Portrait With Unica Zürn (1955) and Portrait of Wilfredo Lam (1958).

Victor Brauner (1903-1966)

Brauner joined the Paris Surrealists in 1933, contributing to several group exhibits and publications. His paintings of the period, including The Door II (1932), At Dusk (1938) and Fascination (1939), address preoccupations from the artist's dreams and subconscious. Wolf Table (1939), a Surrealist object, was made from a wooden bench, with the head, tail and testicles of a fox. During the 1940s, Brauner experimented with works that incorporated natural fibers and melted wax on wood: The Ideal Man (1943) and The Night (1946). His later paintings reveal an interest in mythology, as well as influences from American Indian and Mayan cultures. Some examples are Deep Sources (1946), Over There (1949) and Memory of Reflexes (1954).

Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)

An artist, sculptor and writer, originally from Great Britain, Carrington met and fell in love with Max Ernst in 1937. Soon after, the two began living together in France, where Carrington took part in Surrealist activities. Separated during World War II, (Ernst had been arrested by French authorities), Carrington eventually made her way to the United States and Mexico. She contributed to the periodical VVV in New York City, while her short story The Debutante was featured in Breton's Anthology of Black Humor. Carrington's first major art exhibit came in 1947 at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in Manhattan. Her paintings are often characterized by dream-like images, influenced by Celtic mythology. Notable works include Portrait of Max Ernst (1939), The Temptation of St. Anthony (1947), Temple of the Word (1954) and Bird Bath (1974).

Georgio de Chirico (1888-1978)

The importance of de Chirico's early paintings on the development of Surrealist art is immeasurable. Characterized by images of empty town squares, with dark, menacing corridors and mysterious shadows, his dream-like world captures a feeling of utter loneliness, suspended in time. Cluttered with puzzling objects, such as clocks, giant statues and distant trains, and often featuring deep, dramatic perspectives, de Chirico's paintings left an indelible mark on Breton and numerous other future Surrealists. Among his works from this early Metaphysical period are The Enigma of the Arrival and the Afternoon (1912), The Anxious Journey (1913), The Nostalgia of the Infinite (1913), Mystery and Melancholy of a Street (1914) and The Child's Brain (1914). By the time of the first Manifesto of Surrealism, de Chirico had moved on to a far more classical approach, much to the chagrin of Breton. He participated in Surrealist activities up to 1925, contributing to the periodicals Littérature and La Révolution Surréaliste, as well as later writing a Surrealist novel Hebdomeros in 1929.

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

A Spanish artist and writer, Dalí joined the Paris Surrealists in 1929, shortly after the premiere of Un chien andalou, a film he had co-written with Luis Buñuel. A child prodigy, Dalí began painting at age six, exploring a wide range of styles and approaches, before finally arriving at Surrealism in 1927. His paintings capture the dream state in a remarkably realistic way, overflowing with Freudian symbolism, unrestrained sexual desires and childhood memories. Utilizing his paranoiac-critical method, Dalí's "dream photographs" depict a subconscious world of mysterious landscapes and melting objects, with great attention paid to elements of Nature - the earth, sky, clouds, water, pebbles, insects, animals, fruit, etc. While exploring his deepest obsessions and fantasies, Dalí conjured up unforgettable surrealist images, often containing hidden figures and double meanings. Among his many masterpieces are The Lugubrious Game (1929), The Great Masturbator (1929), The Bleeding Roses (1930), The Persistence of Memory (1931), The Phantom Cart (1933) and Atavistic Vestiges After the Rain (1934).

Dalí's explorations were not limited to painting. He also created photographs, sculptures, holographs, jewelry, clothing, stage scenery, film scripts and literature. In 1939 he designed and oversaw the construction of the Dream of Venus, a surrealist funhouse at the World's Fair in New York. During the 1940s, he published his autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí and collaborated with Philippe Halsman on several memorable photographic experiments, including Nude With Popcorn (1948), Dalí Atomicus (1948), and Dalí and the Skull (1951). Finally, in 1974, the Dalí Theatre and Museum, a building conceived and designed by the artist himself, was opened in Figueres, Spain.

Though, in later years, Dalí's endless self-promotion and megalomania led Breton to dub him "Avida Dollars", there is no denying the profound impact he had on Surrealism. Responsible for an immense collection of powerful images, Dalí emerged as the Movement's most recognizable figure.

Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)

Influenced by de Chirico's Metaphysical paintings, as well as Flemish Expressionist art, Delvaux's canvases capture a dream world of reclining female nudes, sleepwalking men, and exotic Romanesque landscapes. Often juxtaposing daytime with night-time, interior rooms with exterior landscapes, or modern characters in classical settings, the artist created a unique surrealist blend of Freudian symbolism and child-like fantasies. Though remaining independent of any one artistic movement, Delvaux exhibited alongside fellow Belgian René Magritte, and took part in the second international Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1938. Among his many memorable paintings are Sleeping City (1938), The Phases of the Moon (three versions; 1939, 1941 & 1942), Anxious City (1941), Congress (1941) and Solitude (1955).

Oscar Dominguez (1906-1957)

A Spanish artist, Dominguez met André Breton and Paul Eluard in 1933, before officially joining the Paris Surrealists the following year. Initially influenced by the work of Dalí and Yves Tanguy, Dominguez's later paintings drew greatly from the inspiration of Picasso. In 1936, he developed a technique known as decalcomania, which involved pressing paint between two surfaces, thus creating textures that often resembled porous rocks and coral reefs. The result simultaneously suggested images of the sea and nature, as well as reflections of subconscious thoughts and memories. A few of Dominguez's notable works include Portrait of Rome (1933), Electrosexual Sewing Machine (1934), Lion-bicycle (1936), The Minotaur (1938) and Lancelot (1939). The artist committed suicide on New Year's Eve 1956/57.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)

Duchamp was among the most significant figures in 20th Century art. Following a series of Impressionist landscapes and portraits, he contributed to, and greatly influenced, several artistic movements, including Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism. His Nude Descending a Staircase (1911; second version 1912) introduced motion to the painted image, inspiring the Italian Futurists. In 1915, Duchamp ventured to New York City, where he participated in Dada, along with Francis Picabia and Man Ray. His "readymades" transformed everyday objects into works of art by giving them new identities. Examples are Bicycle Wheel (1913; an "assisted readymade", featuring a bicycle wheel fastened to the top of a wooden stool), In Advance of Broken Arm (1915; a snow shovel), Fountain (1917; a men's urinal), Trap (1917; a coat rack, intended to be placed on the floor as a stumbling block) and L.H.O.O.Q. (1919; a reproduction of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, with the additions of a mustache and goatee). Between 1915 and 1923, Duchamp worked on The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Own Bachelors, Even, a major project on glass. Insisting it was incomplete for eight years, the artist finally declared the piece finished after it was accidentally dropped, thus creating a giant, spider web-like crack.

In 1923, Duchamp gave up painting in favor of his first love - playing chess. However, two years before his death, the artist unveiled a mixed media assemblage that had been created in secrecy over a period of twenty years. The Given: 1. The Waterfall 2. The Illuminating Gas (1946-66) features a large brick archway and wooden door. Through two small holes in the door, one can view the unsettling image of a nude female corpse, her legs spread open, lying ominously amongst leaves and brush.

An honorary member of the Paris Surrealists, Duchamp contributed to the periodicals Littérature, Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution and Minotaure, as well as participated in several group exhibitions during the 1930s. His impulsive nature, sense of humor, and automatic approach to object-making epitomized the spirit of Dada and Surrealism.

Max Ernst (1891-1976)

A German painter, sculptor and creator of collages, Ernst formed the Cologne Dada group with Jean Arp and Johannes Baargeld in 1919. Three years later, he moved to Paris, joining Breton and the future Surrealists. His photomontages of the period, including Here Everything is Still Floating (1920), Health Through Sport (1920) and Santa Conversazione (1921), display an extraordinary imagination, transforming ordinary objects and figures into images where reality is turned upside down. These elements are also found in his oil paintings, many of which are key Surrealist works from the early years of the movement. Among them are The Elephant of the Celebes (1921), Oedipus Rex (1922), Woman, Old Man and Flower (1924), Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale (1924) and The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child Before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Eluard and the Painter (1926). In 1925, Ernst developed a technique known as "frottage," which involved drawing (or rubbing) over a textured surface, resulting in unusual and automatic patterns. The Wheel of Light (1925), Fishbone Forest (1927) and The Horde (1927) are examples of works that used this approach. Other projects by Ernst include the collage novels Le femme 100 têtes (1929) and Une Semaine de bonté (1934), as well as an appearance in Luis Buñuel's Surrealist film L'Age d'or (1930).

During World War II, Ernst was arrested by French authorities and sent to an internment camp. Upon his release (and after escaping imprisonment by the Gestapo), the artist fled to the Untied States, where he lived for several years. His paintings from this period often depict landscapes of decaying buildings, overtaken by nature. Utilizing decalcomania, a technique which entails pressing paint between two surfaces, Ernst created a number of otherworldly vistas, including Marlene (1940-41), Europe After the Rain II (1940-42) and The Eye of Silence (1943-44).

In 1946, Ernst moved to Sedona, Arizona, with the artist Dorothea Tanning. There, he created numerous paintings and sculptures influenced by Hopi Indian culture. He returned to Paris in 1953, where he lived the remainder of his life, producing unique Surrealist works until the end.

Leonor Fini (1907-1996)

Born in Buenos Aires, Fini moved to Paris during the early 1930s, where she first gained recognition for her art. A painter, illustrator, designer and writer, she participated in several Surrealist exhibitions, though refused to officially join the Paris group, maintaining her independence. Fini's paintings evoke a dream-like world, often featuring alluring women in provocative situations. Cats and sphinx-like creatures also appear in a number of her works. A few examples are Sphinx Philagra (1945), The End of the World (1949), The Keeper of the Fenix (1954) and The Troubled Night (1978).

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)

A Swiss sculptor and artist, Giacometti joined the Paris Surrealists in 1930, contributing to the periodicals Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution and Minotaure. His early object-sculptures are psychological in nature, often featuring primitive shapes with symbolic or erotic overtones. Made from plaster, wood or metal, these works influenced the Paris group's exploration of "surrealist objects". Some examples are Suspended Ball (1930), The Palace at 4 A.M. (1932), Woman With Her Throat Cut (1932) and Flower in Danger (1933). Perhaps Giacometti's most renowned works came after his expulsion from the Surrealist group in 1935. His post-War sculptures capture ethereal, stretched-out human figures, sometimes with an air of isolation and anxiety. Among his works from this period are The Hand (1947), Walking Man (1947) and The Forest (1950).

Valentine Hugo (1887-1968)

An active participant in the Surrealist Movement during the 1930s, Hugo drew portraits of many key members, including Breton, Eluard, Crevel and Péret. Her work often features white or colored lines drawn against a dark backdrop, emphasizing the contrast between light and shadows. Among the many books she provided illustrations for are Lautréamont's Chants de Maldoror (1933), Achim d'Arnim's Contes Bizarres (1933) and Eluard's Les Animaux et Leurs Hommes (1937). In addition to her drawings, Hugo designed sets and costumes for the theater and ballet, initially in partnership with her husband Jean Hugo (the great-grandson of Victor Hugo). She also created Surrealist objects and oil paintings, as well as collaborated on several exquisite corpse experiments.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Though she never regarded herself as a Surrealist, Kahlo created images that were dream-like and Surrealist in nature. In 1938, André Breton visited the artist and her husband, Diego Rivera, at their home in Mexico. (The exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was also staying with the couple at the time.) Breton initiated an exhibit of Kahlo's work at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, followed by a Paris show in 1939. Highly symbolic in nature, Kahlo's paintings expressed her own physical and psychological pain, while incorporating influences from indigenous Mexican culture. Among her memorable canvases are What the Water Gave Me (1938), The Two Fridas (1939), The Dream (1940), The Broken Column (1944) and Tree of Hope (1946).

Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982)

A Cuban artist, Lam met the Paris Surrealists in 1939, the same year his paintings were first exhibited in the city. Influenced by Afro-Cuban culture, as well as the Cubism of Picasso, Lam's work is a unique blend of primitive and modern art. He collaborated with Breton on the book Fata Morgana (1940-41) and later traveled to Haiti with the Surrealist leader. Among his notable paintings are The Jungle (1942-44), The Murmur (1943), Les Noches (1947) and Rumor of the Earth (1950).

René Magritte (1898-1967)

Magritte was a key figure in the Belgian Surrealist movement, as well as a participant in the Paris group's activities during the late 1920s. His paintings often place ordinary objects in unusual and unexpected contexts, thus forcing the viewer to observe reality in a new way. Unlike many of the Paris Surrealist artists, Magritte made no attempts at automatism, instead exploring images that were consciously arrived upon, presented in a realistic manner. Equally witty and menacing, the artist's efforts to "put the real world on trial" left an indelible mark on Surrealism. Among his many masterpieces are The Threatened Assassin (1927), Discovery (1927), The Lovers (1928), Titanic Days (1928), The False Mirror (1928), The Treachery of Images (1928-29) and The Dominion of Lights (1954).

Georges Malkine (1898-1970)

Among the early participants in the Surrealist movement, Malkine contributed articles to La Révolution Surréaliste and exhibited paintings at the Surrealist gallery in Paris. Some of his early work demonstrates a gift for automatism, featuring abstract forms with Dada and Cubist influences. Examples are Attraction (1926) and What I Saw In That Eye (1931). Other canvases, such as The Storm (1926), depict dream-like landscapes. During the 1930s, Malkine found work as an actor, appearing in twenty films. His late return to painting during the 1960s produced more than one hundred works, highlighted by his Demeure series, a collection of images depicting buildings (or "dwellings"), symbolic of various artistic personalities. Included in the cycle are portraits of Breton, Desnos and Artaud.

André Masson (1896-1987)

An important practitioner of automatic drawing and painting, Masson attempted to express through his art the workings of the subconscious mind, free from rational thought. His creations from the mid 1920s, including Man (1924), Two Nudes (1924) and Constellations (1925), combine spontaneously drawn shapes and figures with elements of Cubism. Several of his works from this period also feature glue and sand, hurled onto the canvas: Battle of Fishes (1926) and Strollers (1927). By the 1930s, Masson's relationship with Breton had waned, as he contributed to Bataille's periodicals Documents and Acéphale. His paintings became more structured, often portraying violent and erotic images, with vibrant colors. Some examples are Emblematic View of Toledo (1936), The Pianotaur (1937), In the Tower of Sleep (1938) and Gradiva (1939). After a four year stay in the United States, Masson returned to Paris in 1945, where his canvases grew more abstract. He lived there until his death, at the age of 91.

Roberto Matta (1911-2002)

Born in Chile, Matta first met the Paris Surrealists during the late 1930s, contributing to the periodical Minotaure. His oil paintings of the period, referred to as "psychological morpholgy" or "inscapes", are attempts to capture the human psyche in visual form. This internal perspective is often merged with renderings of external, cosmic landscapes, possibly influenced by the canvases of Tanguy. Some examples are Crucifixion (1938), Invasion of the Night (1941) and The Earth is a Man (1942). Matta's work of the 1950s and 60s took on political themes, expressing the artist's concern for the growing destruction and slaughter perpetrated by human beings. La Question Djamila (1960) was motivated by the French/Algerian War, while his massive Burn, Baby, Burn (1965-66) reflected the horrors of Vietnam. Known primarily for his paintings, Matta also created sculptures, photographs and drawings. His exploration of internal thought, as well as the outer cosmos, was key to the development of post-War Surrealist art.

Joan Miró (1893-1983)

A Spanish artist and sculptor, Miró participated in the Surrealist Movement during the 1920s. His early paintings, including Vegetable Garden With Donkey (1918) and The Farm (1921-22), are earthy depictions of the Catalan landscape, demonstrating a sensitivity toward nature. By 1923, the artist's imagery had moved away from observed reality and toward a child-like symbolism. Among his seminal works from this period are The Tilled Field (1923-24), The Hunter (1923-24) and The Harlequin's Carnival (1924-25). With The Birth of the World (1925), Miró created a wash of dark colors upon his canvas, out of which emerged forms and lines, suggesting the origins of both human thought and the universe. The presence of amorphous shapes, floating in an undefined space, characterize much of his subsequent work. Examples are Personages and Mountains (1936), The Song of the Nightingale and the Morning Rain (1940), Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman (1941) and The Red Disk (1960).

In addition to his paintings, Miró created sculptures, Surrealist objects, ceramics, murals and set designs for Russian dance impresario Sergei Diaghilev. His unique, internal perspective, brimming with humor and innocence, left a lasting impression on Surrealist art.

Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985)

Oppenheim was a Swiss artist and object maker who actively participated in the Paris group's activities during the 1930s. After appearing in a number of erotic photographs taken by Man Ray, she gained notoriety in 1936 for her Object (Le déjeuner en fourrure), a fur-covered teacup, saucer & spoon. Among Oppenheim's other notable creations are My Nurse (1936; made from a shoe), Fur Gloves With Wooden Fingers (1936) and Table With Bird's Feet (1939).

Richard Oelze (1900-1980)

A German artist who studied privately with Paul Klee, Oelze moved to Paris in 1933, where he took part in several Surrealist exhibits. Utilizing a technique similar to Max Ernst's "frottage", his paintings blend unusual patterns with ghostly images. His best known work is Expectations (1935-36), which depicts twenty hat-wearing individuals, staring hypnotically into the night sky. Other notable works include At the River of Complaints (1955), White Dove (1963-64) and Invention of a Dream (1966).

Wolfgang Paalen (1905-1959)

Paalen was an Austrian artist and theorist who joined the Paris Surrealists in 1936. His canvases feature an array of unusual patterns, created with smoke and soot from burning candles, and mixed with painted images. Works that utilized this technique (known as "fumage") include Fata Alaska (1937), The Strangers (1937) and Plumages (1938). In addition to his paintings, Paalen created a number of Surrealist objects, most notably Nuage articulé (1937), an umbrella made with sponges. After his move to Mexico in 1939, the artist's output became more abstract. While there, he helped organize the International Surrealist Exhibition in the Galeria de Arte Mexicano, as well as published the periodical DYN.

Francis Picabia (1879-1953)

A French painter and poet, Picabia contributed to several artistic movements, while remaining true to his independent spirit. A participant in the 1913 Armory Show in New York, he gained recognition for his Cubist-inspired works, such as Dances at the Spring (1912) and Catch As Catch Can (1913). Shortly after, he took part in New York Dada, along with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, painting metaphoric images of machinery and mechanical devices: Reverence (1915), Amorous Parade (1917) and The Child Carburetor (1919).

By the 1920s, Picabia had returned to Paris, where he engaged in Dada and early Surrealist activities. His art of the period features unusual materials, like feathers, matches, sticks and strings, glued onto the canvas. Examples are Dance of Saint Guy (1920), Plumes (1925) and Women's Matches (1925). These works were followed by a series of drawings and paintings known as "transparencies", which depict objects from various perspectives, each overlapping the other, thus resulting in a three-dimensional effect. Some highlights include Hera (1929), Salome (1930) and Adam and Eve (1931).

In addition to his paintings, Picabia provided illustrations for Littérature and numerous other periodicals. He wrote an experimental ballet, Relâche, which was staged in Paris in 1924, with music by Eric Satie. He also appeared in Rene Clair's film Entr'acte, originally presented during the ballet's intermission. Though Picabia denounced Surrealism in a special issue of his publication 391, the artist's independence, as well as his irreverence and sense of humor, became a model for many future Surrealists.

Man Ray (1890-1976)

An American artist, photographer and filmmaker, Ray took part in New York Dada, before moving to Paris in 1921. Inspired by Duchamp's "ready mades", he created numerous objects, including The Enigma of Isadore Ducasse (1920; a sewing machine covered in cloth and twine), Gift (1921; a flatiron with metal tacks attached to its bottom) and Object To Be Destroyed (1923; a metronome with a picture of an eye on it's pendulum). Perhaps best known for his photography, Ray took portraits of many prominent artists and writers of the era, while also exploring more avant-garde techniques with his camera. His series of "rayographs" feature shadowy images, created by placing objects directly onto the surface of photographic paper, then exposing them to light. His Violon d'Ingres (1924) captures the back and buttocks of a nude woman (Kiki de Montparnasse), with the f holes from a violin printed onto the picture, thus transforming the female body into a musical instrument. Other memorable photos include Black and White (1926), Woman With Flowing Hair (1930) and Tears (1930).

A participant in numerous Surrealist exhibitions, Ray emerged as one of the movement's key figures. He directed several experimental films, such as Le Retour á la Raison (1923), Emak-Bakia (1926) and L'Étoile de Mer (1928), as well as appeared onscreen in Rene Clair's Entr'acte (1924). In addition to his work with a camera, Ray created many paintings and drawings. Observatory Time - The Lovers (1932-34), is perhaps his most celebrated canvas, depicting a giant pair of lips, floating in the sky. Another important work, Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade (1938), portrays the infamous French writer as a stone figure, overlooking the Bastille, engulfed in flames. Among Ray's other notable paintings are The Fortune (1938), Picture Puzzle (1938) and Le Beau Temps (1939).

Pierre Roy (1880-1950)

Though he never officially joined the Paris group, Roy was friendly with several of its members, and took part in the first Surrealist exhibition in 1925. Perhaps influenced by his colleagues Giorgio de Chirico and Alberto Savinio, Roy's paintings are Metaphysical in nature, featuring ordinary objects in unusual spaces. Toys and "found items", such as ribbons, stones, strips of paper and small eggs, often appear in his imagery, capturing a sense of childhood curiosity and innocence. Among his memorable works are Danger on the Stairs (1927), A Naturalist's Study (1928), Daylight Saving Time (1929) and Country Fair (1930).

Kay Sage (1898-1963)

Sage was an American artist and poet, who moved to Paris during the 1930s, establishing contact with Breton and his circle. After the outbreak of World War II, she returned to the United States, accompanied by Yves Tanguy, who she later married. Sage's paintings are often characterized by mysterious, empty structures, capturing a sense of loneliness and isolation. Sometimes buildings and figures are presented, wrapped in drape-like coverings, making the objects underneath unidentifiable. Though her work reveals the influence of other Surrealist artists, especially Tanguy, de Chirico and Dalí, Sage created images that were quite unique and personal. Among her many canvases are My Room Has Two Doors (1938), Margin of Silence (1942), Tomorrow Is Never (1955) and The Passage (1956).

Jindrich Styrský (1899-1942)

A Czech artist, photographer and poet, Styrský moved to Paris during the mid 1920s, developing a new approach to painting he called "artificialism". Working closely with his creative partner Toyen, the two delved deep into their inner worlds, capturing images that were both complex and provocative. During the 1930s, Styrský co-founded The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia, editing several periodicals and providing photomontages for a variety of publications. His creations often feature a grotesque sense of humor, as well as a revolt against traditional thought. Among his many works are the collections of drawings Apocalypse (1929) and After the Flood (1929); the photographic cycles Frog Man (1934), Man With Blinkers (1934) and Parisian Afternoon (1935); the collage cycle Vanity Case (1934); and the paintings Melancholy (1937) and Gift (1937).

Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

Tanguy took part in Surrealist activities during the 1920s and 30s, initially exploring the possibilities of automatic drawing. He provided illustrations for many group publications, as well as collaborated on a number of exquisite corpse experiments. Though lacking any formal training, Tanguy taught himself to paint, emerging as a truly unique artist within the movement. His canvases feature an air of mystery, as well as child-like curiosity, exploring strange, otherworldly landscapes, populated with abstract forms and objects. Among his many memorable works are Storm {Black Landscape} (1926), Mama, Papa Is Wounded! (1927), The Palace Windows With Rocks (1942) and Through Birds Through Fire But Not Through Glass (1943).

Dorethea Tanning (1910-2012)

An American painter, sculptor and writer, Tanning moved to New York City during the 1940s, where she met and fell in love with the exiled Surrealist Max Ernst. The two were married in 1946, eventually settling in Sedona, Arizona. Tanning's early paintings, such as The Birthday (1942), A Little Night Music (1943) and Maternity (1946), reveal the influence of Pierre Roy, while also exploring a more personal, dream-like vision of mothers, children and monsters. By the mid 1950s, her imagery began to splinter, moving further and further toward abstraction, yet still containing remnants of the female form. Examples are Insomnias (1957) and Ignotti Nulla Cupido (1960). Throughout her long life (she celebrated her 100th birthday in 2010), Tanning created numerous paintings, drawings and collages. An updated version of her memoir Birthday and Between Lives was published in 2001.

Toyen (1902-1980)

A member of the Czech Surrealist group, Toyen moved to Paris during the 1920s, where she developed, along with Jindrich Styrský, an abstract approach to painting called Artificialism. She collaborated with several Paris Surrealists, including Breton and Péret, creating sketches, book illustrations and collages, often of an erotic nature. Among her many works are The Abandoned Corset (1937), Relâche (1943) and The Smile (1967).

Remedios Varo (1908-1963)

Varo met Benjamin Péret during the 1930s, eventually moving with him from Barcelona to Paris, where she took part in Surrealist activities. During the War, the two fled Europe, making their way to Mexico, where they settled. It was here Varo developed her mature style as an artist, combining elements of allegory with personal, dream-like images, often depicting isolated female figures in unusual environments. A few of her memorable works are Double Agent (1936), Caravan (1955), Star Catcher (1956) and To Be Reborn (1960).


Important Precursors


Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)

A true precursor to Surrealist Art, Bosch was perhaps five hundred years ahead of his time. Born in Den Bosch in the Netherlands, he created dream-like worlds, overflowing with intricite details and religious symbolism. Bosch's unrestrained imagination is remarkable, often revealing a grotesque sense of humor, while conjuring up relentless images of debauchery, torture and spiritual temptation. His triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights includes a right panel set in Hell. Among its endless highlights are: A bird-headed monster sitting on a toilet-like throne, defecating sinners into a hole below; a knife slicing through two giant ears, forming a phallic symbol; a musician crucified to the strings of a harp, while another nude figure plays a flute with his rear end; and a pig in nun's clothes kissing a sinner, as two dogs in armor eat a man nearby. The nightmarish quality and boundless imagery that Bosch depicts in this work are unparalleled in the world of art. Among his other masterpieces are the triptychs The Last Judgement and The Temptation of Saint Anthony.

Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569)

A Flemish painter and printmaker, Bruegel is perhaps best-known for his landscapes and peasant scenes, which depict the rituals of 16th Century village life in an earthy and unsentimental manner. Examples are Netherlandish Proverbs (1559) and Children's Games (1560). However, as a precursor to Surrealism, his two most important canvases may be The Triumph of Death (1562) and Mad Meg (1562). The former portrays an army of skeletons attacking helpless villagers, while the latter conjures up a nightmarish vision of Hell. Influenced by Bosch, these works reveal an unrestrained imagination and attention to detail worthy of the older Dutch master.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593)

Archimboldo was an Italian artist best known for his portaits of heads comprised of unusual objects. For example, his series The Seasons (1573) includes four paintings of heads captured in side profile: Winter features an old man, whose head is made up entirely of tree parts, while Spring depicts a figure made of flowers. Summer and Autumn are portraits composed of vegetables and fruits. Another series, Air, Fire, Earth and Water (1566-70), contains portraits comprised of birds, fire, animals and fish respectively. Among Archimboldo's other unique paintings are The Vegetable Gardener (1590), which appears to be a bowl of vegetables when viewed right side up, but, when turned upside down, becomes a grotesque face; and Adam and Eve (1578), whose profiles are made of naked children.




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