Wolfgang Paalen

"Wolfgang Paalen was an Austrian-Mexican painter and theorist. He was born in Vienna in 1905, as the first of four sons of the Austrian-Jewish merchant and inventor Gustav Robert Paalen, and his German wife, the actress Clothilde Emilie Gunkel. The first years of his life he spent between Vienna and Styria where his father had a fashionable health resort. 1912 the family moved to Berlin and to the Silesian city of Żagań, where his father had bought a castle, the St. Rochusburg. Wolfgang Paalen went to different schools in Sagan, before his parents engaged a private teacher. In 1919, the family moved to Rome, where the Paalens received many guests, such as Leo von König who became Wolfgang's first teacher. In 1924, he went back to Berlin where he applied for the Academy without success. In 1925, he exhibited in the Berliner Sezession and went through a further formation in aesthetics, deeply influenced by Julius Meier-Graefe, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and the Gestalt theory of Max Wertheimer. After another year of studies in Paris and Cassis (1925/26) where he met Jean (Janco) Varda and....






 Georges Braque, he visited the art school of Hans Hofmann in Munich and Saint Tropez until 1928. After 1928, he stayed again in Cassis and Paris, studied shortly with Fernand Léger and became a member of the group Abstraction-Creation in 1933 and the Parisian Surrealists around André Breton in 1936, participating in all its major exhibitions and outreach thereafter, until he travelled to New York in May 1939. The same year he traveled through British Columbia with his wife, the French painter Alice Rahon and his friend Eva Sulzer. In autumn 1939 he followed an invitation of Frida Kahlo and settled in Mexico, where together with the Peruvian poet César Moro he curated the International Surrealist Exhibition in the Galería de Arte Mexicano. During the war years Paalen retreated more and more to his studio in San Angel, newly built by the German architect Max Cetto. Due to his magazine, his presence and exhibitions in New York City, 1940 Julien Levy, 1945 Peggy Guggenheim Art of this Century and 1946 Galerie Nierendorf, he influenced significantly the genesis of Abstract Expressionism. 1949 ...






 he worked in San Francisco with Gordon Onslow Ford and Lee Mullican in the Dynaton group, before he went to Paris in 1952 and back again to Mexico in 1954. He committed suicide in 1959 in Taxco, Mexico. In the course of his association with the Surrealists and their attempts to transform automatic writing into drawing and painting, he created fumage – a technique for generating evocative patterns with the smoke and soot of a lit candle. Between 1936 and 1937 Paalen developed with these visionary-ephemeral forms on canvas, which he then mostly painted over in oil, a number of mature paintings which soon made his international reputation. Together with Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Salvador Dalí he was among the responsibles for the design of the International Exhibition of Surrealism in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Paris 1938, where he installed one of the first environments beneath Duchamps ceiling of empty sacks of coal. It was particularly in the forties and fifties that Paalen's art played a major role in changing the conception of abstract art. "(www.wikiart.org)





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