Tag Archive | Surrealism

Modern Art Monday Presents: Yves Tanguy, He Did What He Wanted

He Did What He Wanted
Photo By Gail

He Did What He Wanted (1927) was included in Yves Tanguy’s first solo show at the Galerie Surréaliste, Paris, in 1927. Before the exhibition opened, Tanguy and Surrealist leader André Breton invented titles for the paintings based on a 1922 book called Treaty of Metapsychics by Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner for medicine, which explored mysterious forms of cognition — a subject that resonated with the Surrealist interest in the unconscious and in dream states. The title of this work refers to a phenomenon Richet describes in which hypnotized subjects refuse to obey external commands. In early works, such as this one, Tanguy defined his signature style: a vaguely geological, otherworldly terrain strewn with symbols and enigmatic creatures. His biomorphic forms, rendered with a painterly treatment of surface that approaches abstraction, had a profound impact on postwar painters such as Matta and Arshile Gorky.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: Wilhelm Freddie, Sex-Paralysappeal

Sex Paralysappeal
Photos By Gail

In line with other surrealist artists’ engagements with the ready-made, Wilhelm Freddie’s objets-mannequins, such as Sex-Paralysappeal (1936, shown here as a 1961 artist’s copy) were scandalous in their day for their explicit references to sex. With a prominently painted penis, both the 1936 and 1961 versions of this work were confiscated by the Danish authorities soon after they were exhibited.

Sex Paralysappeal
Installation View

In Sex-Paralysappeal, Freddie transforms the classical bust into a surrealist object by treating it like a mannequin head and adorning it with various accessories. Placing the head inside an incomplete picture frame, he indicates the desire for the image to become dimensional, more lifelike. The work’s composite title vacillates between sex appeal and paralysis, amplifying the incongruity of its constituent elements.

Photographed in The Met Breuer as Part of the Exhibit, Like Life: Sculpture Color and The Body.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, The Nymph Echo

Nymph Echo
Photo By Gail

The diminutive nude female figure in the upper right area of  The Nymph Echo (1936) is often identified as Echo — a mountain nymph of Greek Mythology. Far more dominant, however, is the monstrous green vegetal creatures —  or is it creatures — in the foreground. This wildly imaginative hydra-headed creation may represent Narcissus, whom Echo loved.  Famously, Narcissus fell in love with his own beautiful image reflected in a pool and wasted away from unsatisfied desire, whereupon he was transformed into a flower. The various delicately colored floral effusions in Ernst’s painting recall this moment of metamorphosis.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC

 

Modern Art Monday Presents: Paul Delvaux, Small Train Station at Night

Small Train Station at Night
Photo By Gail

Trains play a prominent, reoccurring role in Paul Delvaux’s surrealist imagery, including this eerie depiction of two locomotives leaving their terminus at night. Unpopulated, the composition of Small Train Station at Night (1959) invites the viewer to imagine inhabiting the space, this evoking a sense of loneliness and vulnerability. An unnaturally large moon casts the scene in a cool, still light that produces protracted, ominous shadows. These features betray Delvaux’s debt to Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico, who likewise explored the train as both subject and symbol in his work.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Shark Attack Tea Cups!

Nicole Gordon Low Tide
Low Tide By Nicole Gordon (Image Courtesy of the Corey Helford Gallery)

Disneyland’s Mad Tea Party attraction, commonly known as the Tea Cups, is not generally considered to be one of the park’s more terrifying rides. But…say there where menacing sharks lurking inside each brightly-painted, whirling cup — what then? Now that would be very scary!

Fortunately, that is not the case, and the provocative image you see above is not from an actual news source, but rather it is a surrealist painting by Chicago-based artist Nicole Gordon, entitled Low Tide. I quite like it. If you feel similarly, perhaps you would like to know that on Saturday, July 15th, 2017, the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles will host an opening reception for its exhibit of new works by Gordon, in her first solo exhibition with the gallery, entitled  Dehydrated Rainbow. Here’s a bit more information in case you maybe want to check it out.

Nicole Gordon’s paintings lean on the whimsical and somewhat grim, an expression of beauty met with the horrors of real world change and transformation. The artist describes her work as a combination of fantasy with darker truths: her use of bright colors and out of place objects create an imaginative view of reality. For Dehydrated Rainbow, Gordon selects amusement parks and rides (many of which are now abandoned), meshed with pop-culture iconography as her subjects.

The exhibition features 15 new oil paintings and a special, interactive installation inspired by the series. Populated with ghost-like children, these dramatic, vibrant landscapes draw from our innocent childhood experiences and something more sinister. Children are painted in black-and-white to suggest this world is a dreamscape, rather than reality. One element that repeats throughout is a Tea Cup, as you see in the painting above.

 Gordon explains, “The spinning tea cup ride is something so joyful and so innocent, but also so terrifying and sickening. I think it is something most people can relate to visually. The ride is often simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying, not unlike the experience of looking inwardly and relying on ourselves for a deeper understanding and connection with the world around us.” And of course, it ismuch worse if sharks are involved.

“In this new body of work,” she continues, “I explore the relationship of a young person set against a backdrop of common, pleasurable experience crossed with destructive events. These seemingly banal activities are set against imagery of destructive forces imposing fury against the quietude. These dreamscapes represent the thrilling and terrifying worlds that we can create within our own minds if given the chance to truly be alone.”

Dehydrated Rainbow By Nicole Gordon will be on exhibit from July 15th to August 12th, 2017, at Corey Helford Gallery, Located at 571 S. Anderson St. (Enter on Willow St), Los Angeles, CA 90033. The opening reception on Saturday, July 15th runs from 6:00 -11:00 PM, and it is open to the public.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Voice of Space By René Magritte

The Voice of Space
Photo By Gail

Influenced by Giorgio de Chirico, René Magritte sought to strip objects of their usual functions and meanings in order to convey an irrationally compelling image. In Voice of Space (of which three other oil versions exist), the bells float in the air; elsewhere they occupy human bodies or replace blossoms on bushes. By distorting the scale, weight, and use of an ordinary object and inserting it into a variety of unaccustomed contexts, Magritte confers on that object a fetishistic intensity. He has written of the jingle bell, a motif that recurs often in his work: “I caused the iron bells hanging from the necks of our admirable horses to sprout like dangerous plants at the edge of an abyss.”

The disturbing impact of the bells presented in an unfamiliar setting is intensified by the cool academic precision with which they and their environment are painted. The dainty slice of landscape could be the backdrop of an early Renaissance painting, while the bells themselves, in their rotund and glowing monumentality, impart a mysterious resonance.

Text By Lucy Flint.

Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Modern Art Monday Presents: On Time Off Time By Dorothea Tanning

On Time Off Time

Dorothea Tanning (August 25, 1910 – January 31, 2012) was an American painter, printmaker, sculptor, writer and poet. Her early work was influenced by Surrealism, and she was the 4th and final wife of famous German surrealist Max Ernst (1891 – 1976).

In her own words Tanning noted the following about On Time Off Time:
“What I remember most about this picture is the support. It was a piece of wonderful linen that I stretched and prepared myself. It was the only time I ever did any such thing. And then, of course, when it was done, I felt I had to make some rare precious picture on it, and I think the words I used were the key to the enigmatic quality that I wanted.” Other than that, not much is known about this painting’s meaning.

Dorothea Tanning died at her home Manhattan in 2012, home at age 101 – wow!

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.