André Masson (1896-1987)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE ITALIAN COLLECTION
André Masson (1896-1987)

La victime

André Masson (1896-1987)
La victime
signed with the initials and dated 'M.A.42' (lower left)
oil and tempera over sand on board
14 7/8 x 12 7/8 in. (37.8 x 32.8 cm.)
Painted in 1942
Galleria Studio Due Ci, Rome (no. 28AM).
Private collection, Italy, by 1996.
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Masson: Massaker, Metamorphosen, Mythologien, September - November 1996, no. 32. p. 39 (illustrated).
Metz, Musées de la Cour d'Or, André Masson, Un Combat, October 1998 - January 1999, pp. 39 & 181 (illustrated p. 152).
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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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Lot Essay

The Comité André Masson has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

In 1941 Masson fled France for the United States, ultimately settling in New Preston Connecticut where he was to live for the remainder of the war. There he began a new phase of his work, which he called 'triumphant tellurism'. Masson said the pictures of this period were "symbols of blooming and germination. But aggression and destruction have their place there too: the assault of the caterpillars, devouring insects." (quoted in D. Ades, Andre Masson, Barcelona 1994, p. 23). Masson drew inspiration from the nature and culture of the New World, especially American Indian Art, and the intense and violent colours of fall in New England. The artist commented, "When the Indian summer arrives, in October, the variety of colours is endless. There are the maples, under an enamel blue sky; they go from yellow to violet, from purple to orange, and to vermilion, as if the sky had poured pots of paint over the vegetation (op. cit.,).

Beginning in 1942, the year of the present work, Masson felt attracted once more to the pyschic automatism of Surrealism. André Breton, the founder of the Surrealist movement and Masson's close friend, wrote of the painter's work: "No other imagination is so firmly gripped by the great questions which have been posed agonizingly down the centuries, right up to the present day, by Heraclitus, the Cabbalists, Sade, the German Romantics and Lautreamont, and no imagination has offered them a more sympathetically attuned field of reaction. Yet his imagination is also absolved from these questions by the irresistible call of life which he is always striving to answer by tracing life back to its very source" (ibid, p. 20).

Masson's work of the early 1940s was enormously influential on American artists, Pollock above all. As Kirk Varnedoe has commented, ‘He [Pollock] was almost certainly interested . . . in the kind of liquefied figuration employed by the Frenchman André Masson, partially through the ‘automatic’ technique of spilling in and sand . . . Masson's looser line, which conveyed a dreamy sexiness that was more disembodied and indirectly evocative, had rhythms that were more adaptable’ (K. Varnedoe, Jackson Pollock, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York 1998, p. 37).

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