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    Sale 7600

    Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

    25 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 514

    André Masson (1896-1987)

    Figure or Personnage animal

    Price Realised  


    André Masson (1896-1987)
    Figure or Personnage animal
    oil and sand on canvas
    16 1/8 x 6½ in. (41 x 16.4 cm.)
    Executed in 1926-1927

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    The Comité Masson has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

    One of the truly radical and groundbreaking series of sand paintings that Masson made between 1926 and 1927, Personnage animal (Animal person) is a rare and important work from the key period of Masson's involvement with the Surrealist group. 'At that time', Masson wrote, 'there was a great temptation to try to operate magically on things, and then on ourselves. The impulse was so great that we could not resist it and so, from the end of the winter of 1924, there was a frenzied abandon to automatism' (A. Masson, Painting is a Wager, Paris, 1943).

    Following the poetic example of automatic writing laid down by Breton and Soupault in their Magnetic Fields, Masson was among the first of the Surrealist artists to attempt to capture a spontaneous and unconscious flight of ideas in visual form. Beginning with fluid pen and ink drawings created unconsciously in moments of trance, Masson developed his technique into a precise meditative ritual which he took further into the realm of unconsciousness in 1926, while staying in Sanary-sur-Mer, near Toulon, by experimenting with sand. Applying glue randomly to the surface of the work and then covering it with sand from the beach, Masson generated random but persuasive patterns out of which he would begin to articulate forms suggested in the patterning. '...under my fingers involuntary figures were born and most often disturbing, disquieting, unqualifiable. The slightest reflection broke the charm. But when in the end images appeared, I could not prevent a movement of shame - an indescribable unease - combined with a vengeful exultation, like a victory carried over some oppressive power' (A. Masson, 'Le Peintre et ses Fantasmes', in Le Rebelle du surréalisme, Paris, 1976).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Galerie Simon, Paris, by 1927.
    Roger Dutilleul, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1927, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 2 February 2004, lot 56.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this work is signed 'andré masson' (on the reverse).

    Pre-Lot Text



    F. Will-Levaillant, 'Mythographies masquées d'André Masson', in Critique, Paris, May 1977, p. 482, no. 360.
    F. Will-Levaillant, 'Stratagème de la peinture', in L'âne, no. 13, Paris, November - December 1983, pp. 14-15 (illustrated in colour on the cover).
    F. Will-Levaillant, 'Tension and energy: A new artist's status a new concept in art criticism in the mid-20th century', in Japan and Europe, Tokyo, 1991 (illustrated fig. 12, p. 172).


    New York, The Museum of Modern Art, André Masson, 1976 (incorrectly illustrated p. 122).
    Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, André Masson, March - May 1977, no. 31.
    Paris, Musée d'Art moderne, André Breton, La beauté convulsive, April - August 1991 (illustrated in colour p. 252); this exhibition later travelled to Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia.