by Shane Ferro, April 30, 2012
WHAT: "André Masson, The Mythology of Desire: Masterworks From 1925 to 1945"
WHEN: April 27-June 15, 10am-6pm
WHERE: Blain|Di Donna, 981 Madison Avenue (in the Carlyle Hotel), New York
WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: Surrealism is having a moment in the market right now, so it is the perfect time for industry veterans and secondary-market dealers Harry Blain and Emmanuel Di Donna to bring together an impressive collection of the work of André Masson — who hasn't had a major show of his work in the United States in decades. The exhibition ranges from 1925 to 1945. In that time Masson went from painting Cubist still lifes to joining André Breton and Joan Miró in originating the Surrealist movement (there are several examples of his "automatic drawing" technique on display), and then finally breaking with the Surrealists and creating vibrant, erotic, and violent depictions of Spanish life in the 1930s.
Masson was injured in World War I and significantly impacted by both the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The violence he saw during this period in his life comes out, particularly in the later works, in a way that is both disturbing and awesome. On the other hand, his more demure "automatic drawing" works are understated, but important to the history of the Abstract Expressionists who would follow him, particularly Jackson Pollock.
Though Blain|Di Donna only has two exhibitions per year, they make sure that the shows they do put on are worth the trip to the Upper East Side.