I know I spent a little more time on this artists, but he is well worth it. One of my favourite surrealists (and I am not a big fan of surrealism). Masson had a way of making something extremely creative out of a movement that was more self-aggrandising than anything else…
André Masson was born in Balagny-sur-Thérain, France, however his family moved to Brussels in 1903 and there, in the Kingdom of Belgium, he studied at the Académie royale des beaux-arts de Bruxelles (in French) or in Dutch: Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten van Brussel.
In 1920 he moved to Paris and begins to get familiar with some artists and writers and eventually meets Max Jacob. Max Jacob was the French poet, painter, writer, critic, friend of Picasso and known for his mystical novel “Saint Matorel” (1911); “Le laboratoire central” (1921), and “La défense de Tartuffe” (1919). During the first years of the decade his work shows evidence of the influence of Rodin and of Sade in his erotic drawings and watercolours. He also painted landscapes, especially forests, but he also painted nature mort (still life) and other figurative paintings. His style, at the time, was cubist.
Then in 1922, Picasso’s own dealer, Kahnweiler, offers Masson a contract. His advancement continues and is well ratified when both Hemingway (which I will highlight eventually*) and Gertrude Stein (expect a special on her*) buy some of his canvases. This gains him much recognition and in turn his studio in the rue Blomet becomes a centre for artists and writers to meet and discuss their work.
His first individual exhibition was organised by Kahnweiler in 1924, at the Galerie Simon. And since Breton was among his admirers he turns fully towards the techniques of surrealism.
Upon meeting Giacometti, the great Swiss sculptor, in 1927, he creates his first sculpture, Metamorphosis. He breaks with the surrealists in 1929 and meets Matisse with whom he spends some time in Nice. In 1936 he spends some time in Spain and creates some highly recognised works such as Aube a Montserrat and Paysage aux prodiges (see companion piece video). Then he rejoins with Breton and the surrealist and mounts an exhibit at the International Surrealist Expo in London.
In 1937, highly influenced by Picasso and Dalí, he begins his second surrealist period, characterised by representations of monstrous figures. Then in 1940 he moves to Martinique and later to New York City. His work in America somewhat details the footprint of Indian mythology and the natural world. He exhibits regularly and became thus one of the most influential painters in the abstract impressionist movement taking place at the time in the US. By 1945 he returns to France. Landscape painting continues to be his principal theme in art. And in 1954 he participates in the Venice Biennial and received the Gran Prix for painting.
Masson died in Paris in 1987.
Here is the companion piece with some of his most well known paintings. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you leave me your impressions and your comments, thank you!
*These special articles will appear in my Patreon page: http://www.patreon.com/jazzyarts