Andre MASSON |
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France 1896 - 1987
French painter, born in 1896 in Balagny, France, Died Paris 1987.
Surrealist painter, print-maker, illustrator and stage designer. He was a leading figure in the 20C French art scene. The work of Andre Masson has an important place in the development of Surrealism.
He began his studies before 1914, at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He served in the Great War in the fighting lines, and was severely wounded. The war experience of Masson affected him very deeply. The abnormal realities of trench warfare, with its domination by extreme violence, its immediate contiguity of life and death, presented questions of the motivation of human behaviour. His work has been an essay in confronting life at that-level of experience. Masson went to Paris in 1922, and associated with Miro and with the poets. Armand Salacrou, Michel Leiris and Georges Limbour. His interest in the deeper reality of man's behaviour drew him to Surrealism. In 1924 he met Andre Breton, joined the Surrealist group, and exhibited with them for some years. He became very involved with non-rational purpose in art, in developing drawing and painting as nearly as possible as direct thought transference. With Miro he produced 'automatic' drawings. These allowed the free movement of the pen line, without pre-thought or condition of any kind. To obtain the same effect in painting, Masson used drawn confinuous lines of glue on the canvas, adding the colour by coating with different Coloured sands.
Very early in his career Masson relinquished any desire to construct paintings on Cubist or any other lines. For him painting has not been a contrived art, a matter of developing a style. It.had to be a part of life itself, a 'way of knowing' simultaneous with a way of action; admitting the violent, the erotic, the chaotic, spurning any rationally formulated order. In 1940 he exiled himself to America. Masson's Surrealist ideas found the new soil productive, and. his influence on American painting was strong. In particular Arshile Gorky drew on it, as did Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Pollock's Action Painting has much in common with Masson's early sandpaintings, and with his automatism of method. He returned to Paris in 1945. He designed the scenery for a production of Hamlet in 1946, and for Berg's opera Wozzeck in 1963. He had before the war been concerned in a similar way with various productions. Masson's life work represents a series of periods of exploration, for his personal purpose, of various techniques, varying from full, rich polychrome to monochrome and purely linear work. On occasions involving closely defined biomorphic images, his work is characterized by extreme speed of execution and complex personal imagery.
Bibliography: General works:
Dawn Ades, Masson (NY: Rizzoli, 1994); Michel Leiris, Andre Masson. Massacres et autres dessins (Paris: Hermmann, 1971); Michel Leiris, Andre Masson and His Universe with Michel Leiris, and Georges Limbour, Andre Masson and His Universe. English texts translated by Douglas Cooper. Geneva: Editions des Trois Collines / London: Horizon, 1947); Georges Limbour, Masson Dessins (Paris: Braun & Cie, 1951); André Masson, Eulogy of Paul Klee (New York: Curt Valentin, 1950); André Masson, Nocturnal Notebook (New York: Curt Valentin, 1944); René Passeron, André Masson et les puissances du signe (Paris: Denoël, 1975); Roger Passeron, André Masson: General catalogue of the sculptures (New York/ Torino: Marisa del Re Gallery/ Il Quadrante Edizioni, 1988); William Rubin and CarolynLanchner, André Masson (NY: Museum of Modern Art, 1976);
1896 - Born 4 January at Balagny, Oise
1903-1911 - Family moves to Lille
1912 - Studies fresco under Paul Baudouin at the Ecole des Beaux Arts
1914 - Travels to Italy and Switzerland
1915-1917 - Serves as an infantry soldier in the First World War and is involved in some of the worst fighting. In April 1917 is seriously wounded in the battle of the Somme
1918 - Incarcerated in a mental hospital and discharged in 1918, just before the armistice
1919 - Starts to paint again - settles for a time in Ceret
1920 - Returns to Paris with Odette Cabale, now his wife. Makes friends with artists and writers over the next few years
1921-1922 - Moves to 45 rue Blomet - Miro has adjoining studio
1922-1923 - Paints landscapes - rue Blomet becomes centre of a group of young artists including Leiris, Salacrou, Limbour and Artaud.
1924 - First one man show at Galerie Simon (owned by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler). Meets Andre Breton
1925 - Work included in an exhibition at Galerie Pierre
1926 - Galerie Surrealiste opens, including works by Masson. Spends time at Sanary, developing sand paintings
1927 - Rents house in Avenue de Segur, Paris. Realises first sculpture in plaster with advice from Giacometti
1928 - Starts to distance himself from Surrealism
1929 - Rupture with Breton
1930 - Exhibitions at Surindependents and Gallery of Living Art (New York)
1931 - Much of the year spent at Grasse
1932 - Meets Matisse
1933 - Designs sets and costumes for Les Presages
1934 - Leaves for Spain with Rose Makles. Settles at Tossa de Mar. Exhibition at Galerie Simon. Marries Rose in December
1935 - Birth of Diego Masson in June
1936 - Renewal of friendship with Andre Breton. Exhibits fourteen works at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London, June 1936. Birth of Luis Masson. Return to France on outbreak of Spanish Civil War
1937 - Beginning of second "surrealist period"
1938 - Participates in Exposition Internationale du Surrealisme in Paris, January
1939 - Outbreak of war
1940 - Included in International Surrealist Exhibition, Mexico City, January-February.
1941 - Receives US visa and leaves for America in March. Five drawings destroyed by US customs on grounds of obscenity. Lives in New York until June when he moves to Connecticut
1942 - Included in "First Papers of Surrealism" exhibition organised by Breton and Duchamp
1943 - Curt Valentin acts as Masson's dealer in New York
1944 - Included in several group exhibitions
1945 - Exhibitions at Whitney and Bucholz galleries. Return to France to live with Rose's sister, Simon
1946 - One-man exhibition at Palais des Beaux Arts
1947 - Family settles at Le Tholonet, near Aix-en-Provence
1948 - Exhibition at Galerie Louise Leiris
1949 - Exhibition "Terre Erotique" at Place Vendome is closed by the police
1950 - Exhibition "Andre Masson and Alberto Giacometti" at Kunsthalle, Basel
1951 - Visits Venice
1952 - Writes "Monet le Fondateur" in Verve
1953 - Moves to "Les Cigales", Tholonet. Travels to Rome
1954 - Exhibits six works at Venice Biennale. Wins Grand Prix National for Painting
1955 - Retrospective at Leicester Galleries, London.
1956 - Exhibition at Galerie Lucien Blanc. Publication of Metamorphose de l'artiste
1956-1957 - Spends winter in Paris
1957 - Radio interviews
1958 - Retrospective of engravings by L'Albertina, Vienna. One-man show at Saidenberg Gallery, New York. More than 30 works at Venice Biennale. Retrospective at Marlborough Fine Art, London. Exhibition at Edgardo Acosto Gallery, Beverly Hills
1959 - Retrospective at Galleria Bussola, Turin
1960 - One-man show at Svensk-Franska Gallery, Stockholm. Included in International Surrealist Exhibition, New York
1961 - Arrested for activity relating to struggle for Algerian independence
1962 - One-man show at Marlborough Fine Art, London
1963 - Moves Paris home to 56 Rue de Sevigne. Exhibition at Galerie Gerard Cramer, Geneva.
1964 - Retrospective at Aka ...
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