In 1938, Egyptian-born Surrealist Laurent Marcel Salinas (1913 – 2010) signed the group manifesto Art et Liberté that denounced attempts to bind art to the political demands of the state. The signatories declared art a means to liberate society and the individual from the “artificial restrictions” of nationality, religion, and ethnicity. In Naissance (1944) Salinas’s choice of a disembodied and tentacled eye takes up a subject – the naked eyeball – frequently depicted by Surrealists in other locations as a surrogate for male castration anxieties. By the early 1950s, the Cairo group had begun to disband; following the coup in 1952 led by Mohamed Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, Salinas fled to Paris.
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
White Rectangles, Number 3 (1939) is filled with white, blue, gold, and rust-colored geometric shapes that produce a collage-like effect. Some of the forms, particularly those near the center, are defined with strong black outlines, while various patterns and textures articulate others. Artist Irene Pereira (1907 – 1971) used a number of different tools, including, possibly, the blunt end of her brush, to carve into the paint surface, creating troughs that enhance the paints physicality and, in repetition, suggest industrial production.
Pereira made this work while a member of the Design Laboratory, a cooperative school of industrial design established under the Works Progress Administration. The school advocated applying abstract design principles not only to painting and sculpture, but also to industrial design and even architecture.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
Between 1926 and 1934, Charles Sheeler produced seven paintings and several photographs of the interior of his home in South Salem, New York. Prominently featured in all of them is his collection of early American furnishings. Although he rendered each object with perfectionist clarity. he treated the composition as an abstract design, enlivened by his unusual choice of perspective as exampled in this piece, Americana(1931).
Photographed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.