Surrealism was born from the aftermath of the First World War. The overwhelming feeling of loss in the wake of the first modern war birthed new forms of art. Surrealist works served to examine intangible emotion on both the visceral and intellectual levels. The founder of the movement, André Breton, encouraged artists to tap into the unconscious realm of the mind in order to find expression in the purest form. Painter Andre Masson explored themes of nature and transformation, providing an intriguing and unique landscape for the viewer to explore.
Masson was born in 1896 in Balagny, France. He joined the French army at the outbreak of World War I. During the battles of the Somme, Masson was severely injured. This had a major impact on the rest of his life. The wound caused him to reexamine his personal truths and inspired notions of fate. These ideas can be found throughout many of his works over the course of his career.
After the war, Masson moved to Paris. During this time, he mainly painted forest imagery. At his first solo show, Breton became fascinated by one of Masson’s works. He purchased The Four Elements and invited the artist to join the blossoming Surrealist group.
Experimentation came naturally to Andre Masson and coming into contact with the Surrealists encouraged this inclination. Taking elements of automatic writing, Masson became the advocate of automatic drawing. This technique is when an artist allows the pen to dictate the imagery. There is no subject or theme in mind. The goal is to find images within the abstract doodles. Masson believed by doing this he was better expressing his unconscious mind and finding new forms of creativity.
The composition of line was an important focus thanks to his years of studying calligraphy. The lines had character outside of the subject they represented, each one a slashing, jutting cut. Many of his works appeared as a jumble of images that range from the bestial to the meditative. Humans and animals melded and transmuted into entirely new beings. Themes of the taboo and the crude were also showcased. There is freedom and deeper symbolism in these drawing and paintings.
Due to the intuitive quality of his art, Masson provides a bridge between the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists. These works broke down boundaries and encouraged others to take a more free-form approach. Andre Masson brought forth the subconscious into the conscious realm.
Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.