Surrealist André Masson was the pioneer of automatic drawing. He used it as a means of subconscious expression and many followed his technique such as Joan Miró, Jean Arp, Salvador Dali and even Pablo Picasso in his later years. Masson along with friends Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró, and Georges Malkine and others were also known to have experimented with the use of drugs and reduced state of consciousness in order to express themselves freely in their artistic medium.
Born in Balagny-sur-Thérain, France, André Masson began painting at the age of eleven. His family had moved to Belgium and he enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts and then went on to study at the Paul Baudoin studio at ‘Ecole National Superieure des Beaux-Arts’ in Paris. Enlisted the Army in World War I, he was injured and spent months in a military hospital. Masson continued his technique of automatic drawing throughout the 1920’s, but his work became more structured by the 1930’s and took on a more erotic and even terrifying nature.
At the onset of World War II, the Nazi’s labeled Masson as a degenerate and he fled the country eventually arriving in New York to remain until the end of the war. He resided in Connecticut and was a great influence on the American Abstract Expressionist movement. Following World War II, Masson was able to return to France for the remainder of his lifetime. He had completely broken away from surrealism at this point, but his work continued to portray cruelty and terror. Masson’s art was in many publications and Galleries worldwide during his lifetime.