André Masson (1896-1987)
Born January 4, 1896, André Masson became interested in painting at a very young age. In 1907 he began his formal art training at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts et Arts Décoratifs in Brussels. In 1912, he left Belgium to move to Paris. Injured in the war, he stayed in a military hospital until 1917. Back in Paris in 1922, he was able to focus on his art career. Masson moved into a studio that he shared with his neighbour Joan Miró. It is during this period that he made the acquaintance of Roland Tual, Max Jacob, Juan Gris, André Derain, Louis Aragon and Robert Desnos.
Early in his career the artist was influenced by Cubism and by the work of André Derain. He met the Cubist art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who also exhibited his work. In 1924, he aligned himself with André Breton, joining the Surrealist movement. He exhibited with the Surrealists at Galerie Pierre in 1925. He left the group in 1929 after a dispute with Breton.
From 1926 he worked on his Tableaux de sables, executed by covering the support with glue before spraying sand upon it. These paintings are the logical succession to his Dessins automatiques. Masson exhibited works such as Lancelot and Les Chevaux morts at Galerie Simon Kahnweiler. At the same time, he was interested in printmaking and illustration. In particular, he illustrated the Marquis de Sade’s Justine and Georges Bataille’s Dossier de l’œil pinéal. L’anus solaire. He also created theatre set decorations and completed private commissions. Collector Pierre David-Weill also asked him to decorate his Parisian apartment.
The artist lived in Spain for two years from 1934 to 1936. Georges Bataille visited him there and asked him to design the cover for his review Acéphale, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s l’Homme de Vitruve. He realised many illustrations for the review, a collaboration that lasted until 1939.
The Second World War exiled him from France; in 1941 he left Paris for New York. His work became more and more sombre, and inspired artists including Jackson Pollock. After the war, he returned to France and moved to the South. In 1965, André Malraux entrusted him with the decoration of the ceiling of the Odéon theatre in Paris, upon which he represented numerous characters of Comedy and Tragedy. He died in Paris in 1987.
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Art works from André Masson
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