André Masson (1896-1987)
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André Masson (1896-1987)

Le fauteuil

Details
André Masson (1896-1987)
Le fauteuil
signed 'andré Masson.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 12 in. (60.2 x 30.7 cm.)
Painted in 1937
Provenance
Galerie Simon (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris (no. 12455).
Joë Bousquet, Carcassonne.
Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris.
Die Galerie, Frankfurt.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
Exh. cat., André Masson: Second Surrealist Period 1937 - 1943, Blue Moon Gallery and Lerner-Heller Gallery, New York, 1975, p. 16 (illustrated).
G. Masson, M. Masson & C. Loewer, André Masson, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. II, 1930 - 1941, Paris, 2010, no. 1937*29, p. 301 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, January - February 1938, no. 120.
Amsterdam, Galerie Robert, Internationale Tentoonstelling van het Surréalisme, March - April 1938, no. 76.
Basel, Kunsthalle, André Masson - Alberto Giacometti, May - June 1950, no. 36.
Frankfurt, Die Galerie, André Masson Retrospektive, April - June 2009 (illustrated on the brochure).
Ludwigshafen, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Gegen jede Vernunft: Surrealismus Paris-Prag, November 2009 - February 2010, no. 90, p. 151 (illustrated; titled 'Das Sofa').
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Anna Povejsilova
Anna Povejsilova

Lot Essay

Executed in 1937, Le fauteuil dates from André Masson’s second Surrealist period. Capturing the convulsions of an eerie metamorphosis, the work is the first in a series of pictures in which furniture awakens to mutate into anthropomorphic, erotic creatures. In Le fauteuil an austere chair has extended its extremities into grabbing hands and feet, interacting with an amorphous, sexualised form, made of breasts, fissures and fleshy details. Confounding the limits between animate and inanimate and attributing the sexual urges of a human body to an object made to accommodate it, Masson created a hallucinatory scenario in which human desires and erotic fantasies take control of the exterior world.

In its sexual drive and fantastical dimension, Le fauteuil signals Masson’s return to Surrealism in the late 1930s. The artist had first joined the Surrealist group in 1924, at the time of the movement’s beginnings. With his impulsive works Masson had championed automatic drawing, opening a door onto the possibility of Surrealism in visual art. Eager to enlist Masson in Surrealism’s ranks, André Breton hailed the artist as a ‘discovered surrealist’, placing him at the forefront of the group. In the late 1930s, Masson would once again grow closer to Breton and the Surrealists. In 1937, at the time when Le fauteuil was executed, Masson had just returned from Spain, for where he was forced to fee due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Back in Paris, Masson sought out his old friends, joining them in their latest exploits.

In 1938, Le fauteuil was indeed featured in one of the most remarkable, groundbreaking exhibitions in the history of Surrealism, the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris. Seeking the shock and outrage of the Parisian bourgeois audience, the exhibition was conceived as an overwhelming environment, in which works of art where enhanced by installations, smells, lights and sound. Masson’s decision to present Le fauteuil in occasion of that major collective Surrealist exhibition suggests that, to the artist, the present work represented a particularly important achievement, expressing themes and forces that were at the core of the Surrealist Revolution the event intended to trigger. In the exhibition’s display, Le fauteuil hang not far from Kurt Seligmann’s Ultra-meuble – a table whose legs had transformed into four, sensual female legs in heels – and Wolfgang Paalen’s ivy-covered armchair. Turning furniture into a metamorphosing, erotic creature, Masson’s Le fauteuil exemplifies the sense of subversion and the uncanny dimension which pervaded the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme.
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