Although never an official member of the Surrealists, despite Breton’s efforts to coopt him, Picasso nevertheless participated in many of their exhibitions and activities in Paris. His work between 1926 and 1939 has been called surrealist because of its fanciful imagery and sexually charged motifs, but despite many shared features, Picasso’s desire to interpret the real world was at odds with Surrealism’s imaginary inner-generated visions.
Here, he was inspired by bathers on a beach that he had previously sketched, painted, and sculpted in Cannes (1927) and Dinard (1928). In these earlier works, as in this 1929 painting, Picasso ultimately transforms the human figure into a strange mutated being, part geometric masonry, part inflated balloon. The features of the female physique metamorphose into one another—the rounded buttocks also suggesting breasts, the pointed breasts suggesting sharp teeth, and the horizontal slit, a reference to both navel and genitals. The overall effect is conflicted, showing both monumentality and vulnerability, sensuality and cold detachment, as if two different sensibilities inhabit this figure. Such imagery may have been a reflection of the artist’s own anguished love life at the time. Married to Olga Khokhlova since 1918, he had been having an affair with a beautiful young teenager, Marie-Thérèse Walter, since the summer of 1927, which would last through the 1930s.
Text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
My old Sandy, this burly man with the
soul of a nightingale who blows on mobiles
this nightingale who makes his nest
in his mobiles
these mobiles scraping the bark
of the orange-coloured
where my great friend Sandy lives
Poem written by Miró for their 1961 exhibition “Miró-Calder” at Perls Gallery in New York
Alexander Calder and Joan Miró first met in 1928 when the American artist visited Miró’s studio in Paris. Since then they maintained a deep and mutually inspiring friendship lasting almost 50 years during which they exchanged ideas, letters, paintings and gifts and collaborated on numerous exhibitions. There is a remarkable similarity in their creative sensibility. They were both heavily influenced by the surrealist movement, taking their inspiration from the unconscious, and applied heavy symbolism in their abstractions. They also shared a thematic interest in the circus and astrology.
Four portraits by Man Ray:
Need some help getting to grips with Surrealism? The Doctor will see you now.
Peter Capaldi, a former art student, and the latest actor to play Doctor Who, settles down on Freud’s couch to deliver his wry take on the Surrealist movement.
‘Unlock Art’ is Tate’s new short film series, offering a witty inside track on the world of art. Doctor Who actor Peter Capaldi joins forces with rock duo The Kills, comedian Frank Skinner, Girls star Jemima Kirke and other celebrity art fans to introduce some of the big ideas that have shaped art history. A new film is released each month, with topics ranging from the history of the nude and the nature of the art market, to Pop art.
Thanks to Tate, Unlock Series
By Julio Cortázar
There is no one who hasn’t observed that frequently the floor will fold in such a manner that one part of it rises at a right angle with the plane of the floor, and later the following part is placed in a parallel manner to this plane, giving way to a new perpendicular, and that this conduct repeats as a spiral or broken line up to an extremely variable height. Each one of these footholds, formed along the way by two elements, is situated equally higher and more forward than the former, a principle that gives meaning to the staircase since whatever other combination will produce a form perhaps more beautiful or picturesque, but incapable of translating the lower floor to the upper floor. Stairs are climbed from the front, since climbing them from behind or the side will result particularly uncomfortable. The natural attitude consists in maintaining oneself on one’s feet, the arms loosely hanging at the side, the head erect but not so much so that the eyes stop seeing those elevated footholds immediate to the one that is being tread upon, and breathing slowly and regularly.
In order to climb a staircase one commences by raising that portion of the body situated at the below right, covered almost always in leather or rubber, and almost without exception fits exactly upon the foothold.
Said part being placed upon the first foothold, and in order to abbreviate we will hitherto call it “foot”, the equivalent part on the left is then removed (also called foot, but one must not confuse it with the aforementioned foot.) and raising it to the height of the foot, it is to be made to follow until it is placed upon the second foothold, upon which the foot may now may rest, and upon the first the other foot may rest. (The first footholds are always the most difficult, until acquiring the necessary coordination. The coincidence of the name between foot and foot make the explanation difficult. Be especially careful to not raise the foot and the foot at the same time.) Arriving in this manner to the second foothold, it is enough to alternate the movements until one finds oneself at the end of the stairs. One can easily leave them with a light blow of the heel that fixes it in its place, from which it shall not move until the moment of descent.