Sunday, 16 January 2011


Am re-reading Essential Surrealists by Tim Martin published by Parragon 1999, which I read several years ago and am reminded again of Giorgio de Chirico 's distorted yet realistic paintings which leave one feeling unsettled, mainly because of their empty depth,  long dark shadows and building facades which are lifeless.  Intrestingly, I was lucky enough to visit the Pushkin Museum in 1993 and saw an achronistic Corot painting entitled "Morning in Venice" which almost echoes that emptiness. 

Marchel Duchamp egocentric assertion that 'everyday objects raised to the dignity of a work of art by the artist's act of choice' seems to me nullified by that assumption;  an act of choice does not, in my view, confer external value other than preference.  Coming from a Dadaist background his work, to me, is not humorous, but bordering on the pornographic and absurd, which was his intention, being a reaction to the horrors of war. Art movements, including Italian Futurism were inevitably products of their day and were influenced by the political and social turmoil that seized Europe at that time.

I can however see that the jibe with the moustached Mona Lisa took a swipe at the "academic Traditionalism" which encompassed some of the elitism that is censured today. Dali's altered Mona Lisa takes the joke further, reflecting his own moustache, face and hands. 

I admire Picasso's Seated Nude, not just for its contribution to Cubism, which he and Braque developed, but because of the breakthrough this signalled into a new way of seeing things, opening the flood-gates to innovation through dynamic images influencing artists and movements to the present day.

Francis Picabia's 'Apollo and his Messengers', is a work that possibly influenced Andre Masson through to Artists like the late  Peter Prendergast. Masson's Antille explores abstraction with rich colours and fluidity not always seen in, for example Kandinsky's Abstract works.  Max Ernst's Men Shall Know Nothing of This reminds me of Odilon Redon's "noirs" which feature eyes and balloons.  He, (Redon) is regarded as a Symbolist but could equally be considered a Surrealist with those works.  It is interesting to see the threads/links from Masson, and Ernst leading to Joan Miro.

Yves Tanguy, René Magritte and Salvador Dali have spacial depth and disturbing qualities similar to de Chirico.

The book has whetted my appetite to again dip into The World of Marcel Duchamp by Calvin Tomkins published by Rhett Austell, 1966.

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