Art of the 20th Century




A Revolution in the Arts






Art Styles in 20th century Art Map






The Great Avant-garde Movements


 




Surrealism



 




 

 

 


Surrealism  (The Dream of Revolution)


INTRODUCTION


BEFORE SURREALISM THERE WAS...


THE EUROPEAN AVANT-GARDE


THE SURREALIST REVOLUTION


THE INTERNATIONALIZATION OF SURREALISM


POSTSCRIPT: LEGACIES

 

 

*
see also:

Surrealism - 1924

EXPLORATION: Surrealist Art

Max Ernst
"A Week of Kindness" (A surrealistic novel in collage)

EXPLORATION:
Rene Magritte "Thought rendered visible"

EXPLORATION:
Salvador Dali

*

 

 


Chapter Four

 

 


THE INTERNATIONALIZATION Of SURREALISM


Frida Kahlo
Lee Miller
Andre Kertesz

 

 

The internationalization of the Surrealist movement is dated after the purges and schisms surrounding 1929's Second Surrealist Manifesto, acknowledging the new membership in the early 1930s and the spread of ideas and exhibition schedules into the 1940s and '50s. Their diaspora during World War II had a profound effect on the culture of art and eventually there were hundreds of claimed members with Surrealist chapters or organizations in most major European capitals, as well as in South and North America. But Surrealism had been international from the beginning, forged from the international Dada movement. Many of the original artists from the 1920s continued to be aligned, formally or informally, with the Surrealists, and ideas continued to develop in the so-called heroic period of 1924-29. Old or new, they shared the desire to shift avant-garde art from pure-painting (peinture-pure) to poetic-painting (pein-ture-poesie).

 


Oscar Dominguez
Decalcomania
1935





 

Max Ernst
 

As the group moved to differentiate itself from Dadaists it was Max Ernst, newly arrived in Paris from Cologne in 1922, who was working with the issues that interested them most. Before teaching himself painting, Ernst had been a student of both philosophy and psychiatry, studied the works of Jean Charcot and Freud, and visited an asylum to witness the power of images created by those judged insane. Much of his painting constituted an unwritten manifesto with which Breton apparently collaborated.

Ernst's The Elephant Celebes (1921) signals the new influence of de Chirico in synthesis with his established use of collage. Ernst had been collaging images from his own hypnagogic state, as well as images found in the ordinary world of journals and magazines which had some psychic resonance for him. In this work he has "found" a de Chirico mannequin, and removed the head—hence the sight of the figure—while allowing it to "see" well enough to beckon the large biomechanical form in the background, another "found" image. The collaged disjunction makes little apparent sense, thus the non-sense of Dada. But the issue of sightless sight was an important one for the Surrealists since it stood as a metaphor for the higher internal vision. A similar metaphor runs throughout the slightly later work of the Belgian Surrealist Rene Magritte, as seen in his 1928 painting of an open eye, The False Mirror. Open eyes see the wrong world; only sightless sight may truly see and beckon others.

Ernst's Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale (1924) extends the idea of collage into physical construction. The distant vista owes a debt to de Chirico, and the use of infinite space as a metaphor for mental or psychical space was utilized by an entire wing of Surrealist illusionist painters: Salvador Dali, Magritte, Paul Delvaux, Yves Tanguy, Kay Sage, Dorothea Tanning, and Lenora Carrington, among others. Here Ernst uses a bird—a frequent symbol in his work—placed typically in a mysterious and unnerving spatial theater on whose stage an enigmatic psychic drama plays out. There was no difference for Ernst between the dream and reality, a condition that made him a lifelong model for Surrealism and Breton.

Ernst's lack of formal training may be the reason he was the least bound and most innovative of the Surrealists in applying new techniques, which he always placed in the service of the imagination. In 1925 he began to use rubbings ("frottage"), where he acquired an image from laying paper over a textured surface and rubbing it with pencil or crayon. For instance, his oil painting The Horde (1927) used frottage from rubbings of strings for an accidental discovery in the world of monsters, enhanced to show their simultaneous existence in reality and in our unconscious.

Later, Ernst often applied these powers to a critique of Western civilization. Europe After the Rain (1940-42) portrays the carnage of a Europe at war. The process used here was decalcomania, a technique "invented" by the Spanish Surrealist Oscar Dominguez in 1934, later employed by many artists. Similar to frottage, the image results accidentally from laying one sheet on another which already contains oil or some other wet medium. Dominguez and others were content with their amorphous images, which were a veritable fantasy of abstract forms suggesting minerals, fauna, aquatic life, and luxuriant growth. Ernst, however, mined these tellurian hills with his own hallucinatory vision.

Chance operated as a concrete and integral part of Surrealist process, a form they termed "objective chance." Here visions are found already concretized in the world rather than created from within the artist and positioned into the world, as would be the case with automatism. The resonance between the interior state of the artist and the exterior condition of nature was taken as testimony to the marvelous.
 


Max Ernst
The Beautiful Season

Paintings such as these show how artificial the line is between Dadaism and Surrealism.
It is likely that the poet-formulators of Surrealism learned a great deal about
their own future directions from reading
Ernst's paintings, prints, and collages.
 

 


Jоаn Miro
 

Surrealism gave the Spanish painter Joan Miro (1893-1983) the confidence to go back into the roots of his life and draw from them a rich amalgam of imagery and fantasy. Like his close friend and fellow traveler in the development of an abstract form of Surrealism, Andre Masson, Miro converted the shallow space of Cubism into a kind of mental laboratory. There, he loosed his automatism to create biomorphic forms which inhabit that most Surrealist of sites, the region that partakes of both reality and dream. The Harlequins Carnival (1924-25) invokes the richness of a childhood imagination—a literal carnival of doll-like masqueraders cavorting in the animated workshop-studio of their creator. The combination of children's fantasy and the deeper psychological resonance derived from these biomorphic forms touch us as we both witness and participate.

Not given to argument or interest in the politics and theory that preoccupied the Surrealists in the early 1930s,  Miro drifted away from the official movement while retaining contact, relationships, and collaborations. He also continued his own, highly personal development which oscillated between the imagery of the fantastic and that of pure abstraction. In 1925 he began to work less realistically and more automatically, deriving images from his paint on the canvas. Finally, in synthesis, he began with found images in the world—such as animals and machine parts—and transformed them into abstract biomorphs reminiscent of Arp. His series of paintings from the early 1930s portray biomorphs that seem somehow alive, floating in an infinite space. For Miro, the process of transformation, now hidden from the viewer, embodied the Surrealist relationship between the real and poetic worlds.

 


 Joan Miro
Harlequin's Carnival

1924

Miro's ability to give himself up entirely to the recreation of a new and private world through painting brought
Breton to call him "the most Surrealist of us all."
 

 


Andre Masson
 

The abstract automatist art practiced by Arp, Miro, and Masson was the dominant form of art in the 1920s and into the early 1930s. Masson (1896-1987) consistently worked with the automatic processes as never ending sources for images. Wounded and traumatized by the trench fighting in World War I, his images and titles eventually embodied a mythological world of primal passion and conflagration. His Battle of Fishes (1926) pictured the world as the battleground of the oceanic unconscious, where blood is figuratively spilled across real sand.

Excommunicated by Breton but reconciled in the late 1930s, Masson was allied more with the Bataille group of Surrealists. His work developed an open eroticism, one of forces more than forms. Masson was among the many who came to the United States during the war years. His continued use of mythological figures, such as in There is No Finished World (1942), reference both ancient monsters and the primal unconscious—a point of interest that members of the New York School of Abstract Expressionists found significant. In the 1940s they, too, were trying to develop a sense of the primal power found in mythology but located in some alternative to European traditions, an alternative indicated for them by Masson's images and belief in automatic creative processes.

 


Andre Masson
Battle of Fishes
1926
 

Masson developed a personal mythology throughout his life,
frequently using the automatic dripping of glue covered with sand as a source for his images.
His world was one filled with the hostility and battles of primal forces in conflict.
 

 


Magritte & Tanguy
 

The other major pole to Surrealist painting consisted of an almost academic style utilizing clear contours and forms designed to convince the viewer of their three-dimensional reality. Their sense of illusionism, however, was part of a Surrealist agenda to present the tangibility of the unreal. Artists such as Rene Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali, and many more, presented images in a highly realistic style to establish a purposeful contradiction—a believable presentation of unreal images.

Starting, like Ernst, from the works of de Chirico, the Belgian painter Rene Magritte (1898-1967) remained committed to creating recognizable images, though ones designed to question the nature of images and imaging. In pitting "illusionistic" against "real" space, he reminds us that this is, after all, painting. For instance, The Promenades of Euclid (1955) is a late version of a lifelong theme: how painting is assumed to be a spatial extension of this world. With his incredible spatial illusion and reference system, Magritte offers painting as an extension of the dream or the marvelous in the world. In short, he is able to use traditional systems to give a new function to painting. His few paintings that combine words and images also rely on confounding the relationship between systems of seeing and knowing.

The French painter Yves Tanguy (1900-55) turned to painting after seeing a de Chirico in a window. Self-taught, his early works have a loose, airy quality to them, as evidenced in The Storm (1926), whose lush grottolike setting has fragmentary images embedded like floating bits of irrational mental debris. By 1927 Tanguy began construction of deep spatial settings populated with tightly painted biomorphic forms, a typology he followed for the rest of his life and can be seen in The Furniture of Time (1929). Unlike Arp and Miro, Tanguy's forms carry no overtones of narration or literalness. His sense of the poetic comes not from the forms themselves but rather from the way they are embedded within a deep, atmospheric space.

 


Yves Tanguy
The Furniture of Time

1939

Influenced, like
Magritte, by the spatial settings of de Chirico,
Tanguy merged his abstract objects with the setting, relying less on disjunction and more on absorption.

 

 


Salvador Dali
 

Salvador Dali (1904-89) was one of the important new members heralding the 1930s expansion of Surrealism. He and fellow Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel had been directly influenced by the movement while making, in 1929, their renowned art film Un chien Andalou ("An Andalusian Dog"), followed in 1930 by L'Age d'or ("The Golden Age"). The Surrealists were avid film fans and the magic fantasy of the bright screen in the dark room gave an invigorating metaphor for their own program. But aside from a few examples, in the 1930s Surrealist film as a genre awaited Bunuel's further development in the 1950s. The early works were generally a compendium of visual scenes, often unrelated or arranged along a broad theme and derived from Dada films. But their emphasis on the issues of desire and its psychological burdens or, more pointedly, on the outrageous erotics of love in the face of middle-class restrictions, were pure Surrealism.

It is Dali more than any figure in the public eye who has come to embody Surrealism in art, act, and even appearance, all testimony to his true genius—publicity. Aside from his personality, Dali is best known for his realistic style of painting images which are recognizable but generally resistant to rational interpretation. The combination is disruptive and provides a surreal moment of interplay between the reconcilable and the irreconcilable, between a base in reality and a dreamscape. In this Dali is one of many, but he is certainly one of the best physical and academic painters of the group, and his work is more consistently outrageous, matching exactly his public persona and distinctive philosophy.

Dali's introduction to Freudianism through the Surrealists solidified a lifelong personal struggle with a powerful dream world and allowed him to accept more openly the erotics and anxieties he found there. Dali rejected the "sleep" of the Surrealists to produce art from an agitated psychological state of self-induced paranoia, a process he called a "paranoiac-critical activity." This he first defined as a "spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based upon the critical and systematic objectification of delirious associations and interpretations."

Early paintings such as Illumined Pleasures and The Great Masturbator, both from 1929, are typical small-sized paintings of images that seem to be solidified dreams set within the Surrealist infinite space. Highly realistic in style, portraying what appear to be unreal images, they are actually "real" embodiments of not just Dali's own fantasies but of the psychological, and often psychosexual, issues which many deny or wish to avoid. Although Freud, whom Dali met in 1938, chastised the artist for his conscious rather than unconscious imagery, Dali's art does resonate on a personal level to reinforce public communication. His Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War (1936) embodies the horror of the Spanish Civil War. The evocation of monstrosity is made powerful precisely because the artist uses the biomorphic organicism of the boiled bean to elicit a primal sexuality which resonates on a personal level. The open phallicism, implied castration, and impotence marshal his personal male fears through a blatant but shocking Freudian understanding into a history painting.

Expelled by Breton in 1934 for his commercialism, Dali moved to the United States in 1940 to participate in its commercial culture. By 1950 he turned to Christian and mystical subject matter—such as The Sacrament of the Last Supper (1955)—works whose stature in the history of art is still the subject of much debate. These late works, though, do remind us that although Dali's paintings often assert a psychological alienation, there is at the root of his art, as with many Surrealist artists, a desire to communicate a fuller sense of life.

 


Salvador Dali
Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War
1936

Dali's private repressions and dreams could be marshaled into a powerful account of public issues,
as in this painting devoted to the Spanish Civil War.
 





Hans Bellmer
The Doll
1936


Giacometti & the Unseen
 

The Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti's (1901-66) bronze "figure" Spoon Woman (1926-27) illustrates the application of a modernist simplification of form to a highly personalized and playful use of African wood carving. The combination of woman and spoon, produced several years before Giacometti joined the Surrealists, was the type of disjunction and visual metamorphosis that appealed to their aesthetic.

His 1932 cast bronze floor piece, Woman with Her Throat Cut, confronts us uncomfortably with the problematic aspects of violence and sexuality within the heterosexual and primarily patriarchal orientation of Surrealism. True, the figure is more insect than woman, a type of anthropomorphizing revered by many Surrealists, and it is more thorax than throat that has been cut. But the title moves us purposefully to "woman" and the death throes are cannibalized into a fairly blatant psychosexual eros typical in sadism. Biological sexual instincts are, of course, at the base of Freud's theory of the psyche and served the Surrealists as a metaphor for creativity in addition to being another way to shock the middle class. However, a work like this brings more than sexual drive and creativity to the foreground.

The debate, like that over the libertine French author Marquis de Sade, the mentor of much of the later Bataille wing of Surrealism, is not resolved even today. It is maintained between those who interpret such images as testimonials to a blatant misogyny in much of Surrealism and others who see them as constructs to confront the public with its uncomfortable truths. The doll constructions (La Роuрeе), which are Freudian fetish-objects, and the drawings and photographs of them by the German Surrealist Hans Bellmer, place this question directly: What are the problems and the consequences of latent sexual fantasy now made manifest? Most Western cultures wrestle unevenly with the issue of the repressed, though public interpretations often differ from the intentions of the artist. The latter also raises a question central to much of modern art—the strategies, role, and function of consciousness-raising by intellectuals. Dreams of liberation, sexual or political, most frequently remain latent for a variety of reasons.

Several interpretations of Giacometti's works are valid to varying degrees but they rarely encompass the sum total of their richness. The sculptor's wooden table-top structure The Palace at 4 AM. (1932-33) is considered a masterpiece in sculpture of the Surrealist dream tableaux found in paintings. More baffling is his 1934-35 Hands Holding the Void (Invisible Objects). Like his "Palace" but less objectified, the "primitivized" figure, whose face derives from a World War I gas mask, holds that which cannot be seen—the object and central contradiction of the Surrealist program: The invisible is the marvelous and it may be manifest anywhere in the world. In the following decade the quest to "truly see" will turn Giacometti's work in another direction and he will renounce these works as useless junk.

 


Alberto Giacometti
Woman with Her Throat Cut
1932

Fully informed by Surrealist and Freudian theory, with a penchant for the Kafkaesque anthropomorphising of insects,
Giacometti created a disturbing construction from his private fantasies of death and passion.
 







Joan Miro
Poetic Objects
1936


Sculpture and Objects

Sculpture developed late in Surrealism, likely because its solidity seems antithetical to their psychic experiments. It developed after the Second Manifesto in the 1930s as interest in automatism faded, in tandem with the rise of the illusionistic painting of Dali, Magritte, and others. Although none of it can be called traditional sculpture, there did develop a new, important category of "objects." With some, like Miro, sculptures appeared late in life as extensions of the fantastic biomorphs already created in painting. For others, like Arp, sculptural form was to be a by-product of the principles embedded in both nature and the artist's psyche. Max Ernst frequently developed a more concrete subject matter that associates references to mythological or "ancient" presence and the psyche. His The King Playing with the Queen (1944) is a variation on a work whose central image, the horned king, emerged from automatist painting, much like Masson's iconography.

Perhaps the more important domain, one that became the predominant vehicle for the Surrealists, was the "Surrealist object." The Surrealist object is a three-dimensional collage of found objects chosen for their poetic meaning or psychic resonance rather than for aesthetic values. Dali and Giacometti were the first to make what Dali titled "Objects of Symbolic Function." In a sophisticated argument the Surrealists placed a primacy on real objects that maintain their integrity. Old art relied too much on the artist as manipulator of materials; Surrealism, like the analyst, was more "objective" in the discovery of the marvelous in the world. At the same time, in psychoanalytic terms of dream analysis, they recognized that objects, inclusive of body parts or Duchamp's ready-mades, by choice or chance, were repositories of personal desire made objective. Breton and others were inveterate flea-market habitues, since finding "things" of objectified desire, they believed, was akin to poetry.

Dali's 1936 Lobster Telephone is less poetic, more designed to startle through incommensurate objects in the same way that his paintings functioned. Breton's "poem-objects" and Joan Miro's "Poetic Objects" are closer to the visual complexity and multiple levels of association necessary to be poetic. Perhaps the best examples come from an American who was too reclusive to join the Surrealists but was greatly influenced by them. Joseph Cornell's little boxes of found objects, often with movable parts designed to make noise and including music boxes—such as the 1945 construction The Hotel Eden—are poetic recreations of moments, places, and meanings in his life. Meret Oppenheim's famous Object, a cup, saucer, and spoon covered in fur, invokes a primordial pun whose open reference to the sexual congress wittily applies in an everyday oral activity. The Surrealists made hundreds of such "objects" work on many levels.

A favored Surrealist object was that of the mannequin. These proliferated in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, and appeared most famously in multiplication along a constructed "Street of Surrealism" for the 1938 international exhibition in Paris. The precise meaning of the mannequins varied. In early 1959 Meret Oppenheim attempted such a definition, apparently serving a banquet at her home and utilizing the body of a woman on a table as a food service tray. When Breton heard of this event he asked her to reproduce it at their 1959 International Exhibition on the theme "EROS," using mannequins of men and women.
 


Salvador Dali
Lobster Telephone
1936

Dali
was likely the first Surrealist to introduce objects in the place of sculpture, but his intention was not, as was Duchamp's, to challenge the meaning of art; Dali wanted Surrealist objects to function symbolically.

The Surrealists brought a new category of object into existence, alongside "sculpture."
Their insistence on locating poetic moments in the world demanded a serious sense of the "objective" world.
The dislocation through unreconcilable objects was the new surreality.
 


Joseph Cornell
The Hotel Eden
1945
 
















Trotsky and Breton


Women and Surrealism
 

Dadaism and Surrealism both made promises that could not be fully kept regarding the role of women and the emerging feminist consciousness in the early twentieth century. Unrestricted freedom against control and domination was the dream of Surrealism and in the acceptance and celebration of the nature of instinct lay the supposed power to subvert repression.

The Surrealist celebration of love, of an open sexuality, mostly heterosexual, and the great weight they placed on the concept of "woman" helped advance the acceptance of women as independent and powerful creators. But accepting woman as an ideal rather than real construction (la femme)—muse, mystery, fantasy—along with the play of objectification of women and sexuality inherent in Freudian psychology, and, the culturally established sexism that men could not personally escape, all these worked as a reduction. However, the degrees of liberation and repression are relative to the viewer.

Meret Oppenheim accepted the "male-centered-ness" of Surrealism as a standard historical attitude. To her liberated perspective, there was only full and equal acceptance of women in Surrealism. The female "muse," a role she played in front of Man Ray's camera, could be seen simply as the male attempting to deal with the female side of his nature. In contrast, Leonor Fini, born in Buenos Aires and an international traveler and artist by her late teens, reportedly hated Breton's authoritarianism. Despite her many good friendships with the group and occasional exhibition she refused to join. Nor was the most famous woman "Surrealist," Frida Kahlo, a member. Despite being acclaimed by Breton, who stayed with Kahlo, her husband Diego Rivera, and Trotsky in Mexico in 1938, Kahlo rejected Surrealism as a Europeanized overlay. She was heir to Mexico's magic realism, an indigenous tradition, and there remained a divide between those of
Tellingly, the photographic portraits of women Surrealists appear only in informal snapshots and are missing from the official group portraits. Yet more women exhibited with the Surrealists with more open exchange between men and women as creators than in any other modern art movement.

In some cases, personal relationships were established between male and female Surrealists, but it was not the traditional causal relation of artistic influence as usually assumed. For instance, the American painter Kay Sage went on to marry Yves Tanguy in 1940 but had established a career with a one-woman exhibition years prior their meeting. It was an admiration for her work that drew the Surrealists to her, especially Tanguy and Ernst. Typically among Surrealists there was the affinity of shared aesthetics. Sage's cool, smooth-surfaced vistas, as in her Danger, Construction Ahead (1940), certainly paralleled Tanguy's work but speak to a quite different architectural and psychological world.

Leonora Carrington, an English painter and writer, met Max Ernst in 1937 and returned to Paris with him. By 1940 they were separated, and in 1942 she was living in Mexico, where she went on to make a life as a writer as well as painter. Carrington's atavism certainly related to Ernst's but her purposeful mixture of animal passion, alchemy, and the feminization of the creative spirit wove a magical ground at once powerful and unique in experience.

Dorothea Tanning, an American, met Ernst in New York and they married in 1946, the year they settled in Arizona. Her works share with Ernst a feel for de Chirico's space and a general air of strangeness filled with strong forces, but her imagery and her rather ferocious energy are the results of a serious exploration of no other but her own psyche.
 


Meret Oppenheim
Man Ray-
Meret Oppenheim; Object (Luncheon in Fur), 1936

 


Leonor Fini
Dora Maar -Leonor Fini, 1936;
From One Day to the Next

 


Kay Sage
Kay Sage; The Upper Side of the Sky, 1944


Trained in the United States and Italy, Sage's first one-woman exhibition in 1936 was in Milan. In Paris from 1936 to 1939, she was hailed by the Surrealists. She was joined by Tanning in the United States in 1940, where she executed this work. Sage's sparse expanse of isolated landscape gains tension from her sharp, architectural forms.

 


Dorothea Tanning
Max Ernstt and Dorothea Tanning in 1948; Ein klein nachtmusik, 1946

 


Leonora Carrington
Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst; Self-Portrait, 1937

 


Frida Kahlo
Frida; The Two Fridas
, 1939

Kahlo
's first big canvas was painted for the 1940s international Surrealist exhibition held in Mexico City,
at the time of her divorce from Diego Rivera, represented by the bleeding heart.
One
Frida is Mexican, indigenous, and loved; the other is European, as is Surrealism,
a movement whose members admired her work, but which she never joined.


see collection:

Frida Kahlo




 





Brassai
Woman-Amphora

1935
 



Photography

 

It is often argued that the introduction of photography in the mid-nineteenth century created a problem for art, since painting now had to find a new role outside representation. Surrealism, though, turned the tables and problematized photography by using its very strength, its inherent ability to create an image we assume is factual and objective, to its advantage. Once a sense of the mysterious could be located within and through photography, it was the perfect medium for Surrealism and no movement employed photography so extensively.


Man Ray's rayographs objectified or "found" another dimension of the physical world, just as Atget's storefront and doorway reflections documented entwined and shifting perspectives Dora Maar, a photographer best known through her relationship with Picasso from 1935 to 1942, was an independent member of the Surrealist movement. Maar understood and objectified the dark humor, or "umour," as Jacques Vache called it, of the Surrealists. Through her photograph of Pere Ubu she gave a strange but physical embodiment to the fictional character from Alfred Jarry's play. Pere Ubu's appetites proved too much for himself and his country but he was a self-contained anarchist beloved by the Surrealists in his bestial form. The true animal nature of civilization was about to reveal itself shortly in a more serious manner.

Under the influence of Man Ray,
Raoul Ubac , a Belgian artist, used photomontages, solarization, and "brulage," a singeing of the negatives to melt them prior to printing. In his Battle of the Amazons, the edges of the work physically erupt to become the images as they move in and out of a darkened matrix of war. It is a mythic battle which simultaneously maintains its mystery and a sense of the factual, since the year 1939 documents the eruption of World War II.

The insistence in Surrealism of locating the intersection of the real and the unreal had a major impact in documentary photography, practiced by such well known commercial photographers as Brassai, who worked for Harper's in the 1930s, as did his colleague and sometime collaborator, Andre Kertesz; also involved was one of the most famous of World War II photographers, Lee Miller, who earlier had shot for Vogue. All three were intimates of the Surrealist circle; all three transferred what they learned, saw, and shot into variations of their commercial and artistic work. It is perhaps Miller, though, that Surrealism best served, if in an oblique manner. Her photographs were the first to record in full detail and make real to a disbelieving public the horrors of the Nazi genocide at Dachau and Buchenwald in 1944. As a realist, she documented the most bestial and "unreal" acts possible within the real world. The genuine madness of the world had outstripped and given lie to the dreams of the Surrealists.
 

Lee Miller

(1907-1977)



Surrealist Muse  Lee Miller






Muse, model, surrealist and war photographer, Lee Miller witnessed at first hand the best and worst of the twentieth century.
Man Ray was her lover, Pablo Picasso her friend, she danced with Chaplin and bathed in Hitler's bath tub.
Her work includes Vogue fashion spreads and the first images of Dachau.
 But after the war she put away her camera and devoted herself to married life in Sussex.


Man Ray
 Lee Miller

 

 


Man Ray
Lee Miller
1929


Man Ray
Self-Portrait and
Lee Miller
 

 


Man Ray
Lee Miller
 


Man Ray
Lee Miller
Electricity

 


Roland Penrose, Lee Miller Holding Fishing Spear and
Dead Octopus, Cote d’Azur, France, August 1937

 


Munchen: Lee Miller in Hitlers Badewanne
Photographiert von dem "Life"-Photographen David E. Scherman,
der oftmals mit
Lee Miller zusammenarbeitete, 1945

 

 


Lee Miller
Picasso and Roland Penrose
Mougins, France
1937


Lee Miller
Picasso and Lee Millerr in Picasso's studio
Paris France
1944

 


Lee Miller
Hand reaching for umbrella fringe
Paris France
1929


Lee Miller
Joseph Cornell
New York
1933

 


Antony Penrose
The Lives of Lee Miller

 




Raoul Ubac
(1910-1985)




 

Coming first to Surrealist theory then to photography, this Belgian artist was able to develop techniques to match a vision expressed by Bataille as "living on the edge of limits where all understanding breaks down."


Raoul Ubac
Portrait dans un miroir
1937

 


Raoul Ubac
Battle of the Amazons
1938


 


Raoul Ubac
Group III
1939

 


Raoul Ubac
Objets possibles
1938

 


Raoul Ubac
Mannequin dressed by Andre Masson
 


Raoul Ubac
Mannequin dressed by Andre Masson

 


Raoul Ubac
Untitled
1955


Raoul Ubac
Untitled
19
68




Andre Kertesz
(1894 - 1985)


Andre Kertesz
Distortions
1933
 


Andre Kertesz
Distortion # 48
1933
 



Dora Maar

(1907 – J1997)


Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso




 



Man Ray
Dora Maar

 

 


Pablo Picasso
Dora Maar


Dora Maar
Portrait of Pere Ubu


Pere Ubu was a comical/sinister hero with a pointed skull and a big nose and belly—
a dictator so self-centered and anarchistic that all laws were contained in his own belly.
The Yugoslavian photographer Maar gives us the bestial image of the beloved character.
 


Pablo Picasso
Dora Maar

 

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