At the Morgan, Drawing surrealism is plentiful and fun. Here's a review...
Drawing Surrealism at the Morgan
Mary Ann Caws
How much more powerful to say “drawing surrealism” than something like “surrealist drawings.” It gets the action into the art, which is, often, exactly where it is. Unweighted by color, untrammeled by, oh you know, something like the history of painting and how the surrealists (in whatever grouping you choose to deal or not deal with them) dealt with that history. Very often, not at all.
Edith Remmington; now there’s one of the surrealist women (so many of them, so interesting in their lives and works and everything else) has this slithering snake advancing toward a jetty with an immense chain moving out along it.” Chains and coils and serpentine lines. These drawings set your mind to snaking.
Some of the drawings call out for narration, and what a delight not to have to supply one!
I very much enjoyed the untitled Miro charcoal and graphite pencil drawing with the ladder and the cascade of drops: this is the kind of work that might make you think it was asking for a narration, but leaves, provoked by its non-spelled out drama, spaces for the imagination.
Among my personal old favorites, the Masson Battle of Fishes of 1926 – this was the first of his sand paintings I ever encountered, and the traces of Blood on the Sand (La Goutte de Sang of 1927) brought into the encounter all sorts of desert films, Ava Gardner pleading about something or other, someone drawing a rapid gun. But I had not seen the Drop of Blood work just above it, so powerful and so rarely seen, since it belongs in a private collection.
About ownership: De Chirico’s very grand drawing of The Poet and the Philosopher in 1913, that made its way into the Minotaure, that glossy magazine of the 30’s, was owned by André Breton, and Paul Eluard, and finally by Roland Penrose, the English surrealist, once married to Lee Miller, that brilliant and beautiful photographer. Understated, this very lovely drawing.
On the opposite side of understatement, the overdrawing or superposition of faces in Picabia’s Olga brings back to every surrealist reader those superpositions in Breton’s Nadja and elsewhere: overstatement, as in the surrealist shout of the manifestos and over-the-top position papers
So much, indeed, of surrealism seems overstatement that this large but subtly conceived exhibition seems just the right touch, slithering toward us.
Should someone ask: so what does the idea of, the practice of surrealist drawing repose on?
You could do worse than to answer: try Giacometti’s Surrealist Table: just be sure the
female figure stands there to hold it all together and up:
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