PRINT May 1968

2. The Surrealist Emigres in New York

PARIS FELL TO THE NAZIS on June 14, 1940. The center of global art was cut off from the world. Leading Parisian artists, many of them Surrealists, fled to America, adding to the number who had been emigrating since 1939. The more prominent exiles were Leger, Chagall, Lipchitz, Mondrian, Ernst, Breton, Dali, Masson, Matta, Seligmann, Tanguy, Tchelitchew and Zadkine. By an act of war, New York became the international art capital.

During the thirties, the American vanguard rejected Surrealism and favored geometric styles, heavily influenced by Neo-Plasticism, Constructivist and Bauhaus rationalism. World War II generated different attitudes. It threw into sharp relief the dark side of man as inherent to his being. Unwilling to accept existing ideologies and the styles they gave rise to, a small number of New York artists, later to be called the Abstract Expressionists, faced what they referred to repeatedly as “a crisis in subject matter.” As the phrase indicates, their preoccupation was with meaning—with what to paint. Indeed, they objected to the prevailing purist painting which they believed had become too much a matter of making a picture whose end was composition for its own sake. As Gottlieb said in 1943: “It is generally felt today that this emphasis on the mechanics of picture making has been carried far enough.”1 The visionary aspirations of geometric abstraction had so lost credibility that they were disregarded.

The urgent need for a new content led Gorky, Pollock, Gottlieb, Rothko, Baziotes and others to re evaluate Surrealism. They were now drawn to its stress on meaning, at once human and irrational. However, the New Yorkers, reared in the tradition of modern art, were far less anti-esthetic than the Parisians. This caused them to be unimpressed by Surrealist pictures which, with the exception of Miró’s and, to a lesser extent, Masson’s, they found lacking in artistic qualities. They had seen enough of Surrealist works in general in local galleries and at the Museum of Modern Art, notably in its full-scale display of “Fantastic art, Dada, Surrealism,” 1936, to be familiar with them. But the Surrealist state-of-mind remained largely unknown. The exiles in the flesh changed that.

Their life style set an example for local artists. As Robert Goldwater wrote, the Surrealists were:

. . . international in character, ‘bohemian’ in a self confident, intensive fashion possible (after so many depressing years) to none of the New York artists, living as if they had no money worries . . . [yet they] had this in common with the [local] artists . . . they too existed on the margin of society . . . Moreover, as the latest issue of a long line of romantics, they accepted this situation as a condition of creativity and made of it a positive virtue. They carried with them a warmth of feeling, an intensity and concern for matters esthetic, a conviction of the rightness of their own judgments and an unconcern for any other. Artists of considerable reputation, they transmitted a sense of being at (or simply of being) the artistic center . . . New York was at the head of the procession, there was nowhere else to look for standards or models. The conviction of the European group of the importance of art even in the midst of cataclysm, for all that it was partly expressed through annoying poses, was sincere and contagious. It was a proper accompaniment of their Surrealism, with its reliance upon the intuitive promptings of creation, and its trust in the subconscious impulse as the best artistic guide; it was a point of view that the American avant-garde of the time had not yet experienced.2

The proximity of the Surrealists-in-exile had other effects on local artists. By 1940, vanguard artists here had assimilated the most advanced painting ideas. As Clement Greenberg observed, they “had caught up with Paris as Paris had not yet caught up with itself.”3 But at an ocean’s remove, they did not know this and continued to feel that they were in an artistic backwater. Indeed, those who most avidly looked to Parisian prototypes were all the more aware of their distance from the vital hub. After the arrival of the Europeans, New Yorkers felt less provincial. To see, occasionally to talk to, a Leger, a Mondrian or a Breton was to join the School of Paris with an intimacy impossible earlier, and to become heir to a succession of revolutionary masters that stretched back for more than a century.4 Paradoxically, the physical closeness of the emigres lowered them in the eyes of the Americans. As next-door neighbors, they appeared as human beings, not as demigods. When one meets a hero and finds him a man, one’s own self-esteem is bolstered. Growing self-assurance was to encourage the New Yorkers to stop aping imported styles.

The importance of the emigres was recognized by the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, which included a number of the future Abstract Expressionists. (Gottlieb was its president in 1944.) In 1940, the Federation condemned “artistic nationalism which negates the world tradition of art at the base of modern art movements.” Three years later, it reaffirmed a globalist position more strongly. “This country has been greatly enriched by both the influx of many great European artists, some of whom we are proud to have as members of the Federation, and by the growing vitality of our native talent . . . Since no man can remain untouched by the present world upheaval, it is inevitable that values in every field of human endeavor will be affected. As a nation we are now being forced to outgrow our narrow political isolationism. Now that America is recognized as the center where art and artists of all the world meet, it is time for us to accept cultural values on a truly global plane.” The Federation called on America to “nourish” the “concentration of talent,” lest future generations condemn it for not rising to its opportunity.5

The Federation need not have worried about the Surrealists. Possessing a highly developed sense of group identity, a flair for promotion, a knack for generating excitement and attracting patrons, they made their presence strongly felt on the New York art scene.6 Such important galleries as Julien Levy and Pierre Matisse already existed as Surrealist showplaces; these were joined in 1942 by Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery. The Surrealists also initiated influential shows and.broadcast their ideas in such magazines as View, which devoted special issues to Ernst, Tanguy and Duchamp, and VVV, the quasi-official organ of the movement.7

In 1940, Gordon Onslow-Ford was invited to America by the Society for the Preservation of European Culture, organized by Kay Sage, a painter and the wife of Tanguy. The Society arranged for Onslow-Ford to lecture at the New School for Social Research in the winter of 1941. A friend and great admirer of Matta (who had come to New York from France in 1939), he had experimented with automatism, under Matta’s influence, in 1938. In his lectures, Onslow-Ford promoted a point of view he had written about in an article shortly before he arrived in America. He called for the rejection of “the school whose aim is reproduction of the rational world, and the school whose aim is esthetical . . . The latter has come to a dead end in abstract harmonies of lines and colors . . . [and is] incapable of adding to the knowledge of man.” To Onslow-Ford (as to Surrealists in general), de Chirico was the prophet of Surrealism, on a par as a pioneer with Freud.

De Chirico’s discoveries were elaborated by Ernst, Miró, Masson, Magritte, Dali and others. “By an automatic arrangement, directed by the desires of the unconscious, of objects in the rational world, dialectical materialism, paranoia, obsessions and complexes were explored. Our minds were enriched and we were brought nearer to the true human being. At last painters, poets and doctors were walking hand in hand.” Onslow Ford went on to say: “The work continues today, but the vital ground has already been covered. Surrealism was also discovering the need to destroy completely the rational world.” A fresh move was made by Tanguy: “I hail him as the first truly automatic painter.” Still another step into the unknown was taken by Matta who developed the possibilities opened up by Tanguy in what he called his “psychological morphologies.” To Onslow Ford, that was the most fruitful direction in which the Surrealists could venture.8

Among the Americans who attended the New School lectures were Gorky, Baziotes, Hare, Kamrowski and Jimmy Ernst. To accompany his talks, Onslow Ford asked Howard Putzel to arrange a series of exhibitions. They included works by Arp, Brauner, de Chirico, Delvaux, Dominguez, Ernst, Francés, Hayter, Magritte, Matta, Miró, Moore, Onslow Ford, Paalen, Seligmann and Tanguy. Onslow-Ford also gathered around him many of the American artists disposed to Surrealism. When Breton, the “pope” of the movement in Paris, arrived in New York in 1941, he assumed the leadership of the Surrealist group. Breton was instrumental in organizing “The First Papers of Surrealism” show at the Reid Mansion on Madison Avenue in the fall of 1942. (The title was meant to suggest an immigrant’s first citizenship papers.) Duchamp crisscrossed sixteen miles of white string throughout the gallery space to produce a labyrinthine setting; this maze attracted immediate public attention. But what proved more interesting to local artists was the show itself; it included nearly every major artist oriented to Surrealism, as well as many younger and lesser known ones, among them the Americans Motherwell, Baziotes, Hare and Jimmy Ernst.9

In the same month that “The First Papers of Surrealism” show was held, Peggy Guggenheim, then the wife of Max Ernst, opened the Art of This Century Gallery, which featured Surrealist art, and whose interior, designed by Frederick Kiesler, was a remarkable Surrealist environment. The gallery soon became a focal point of emigre activities. Guggenheim’s assistant from 1942 to 1944 was Putzel, who had a fine eye, intelligence, enthusiasm and charm. He befriended many young Americans who were employing automatism to create biomorphic abstractions and advised Guggenheim to exhibit them. The gallery gave Pollock, Hofmann, Baziotes, Motherwell, Rothko, and later, Still and Pousette-Dart, their first shows. Putzel was also greatly responsible for turning the Art of This Century Gallery into a meeting place for the Europeans and Americans. (His role in the emergence of Abstract Expressionism has largely been forgotten; it ought to be rehabilitated.)

However, only a handful of Americans—Hare, Motherwell, Baziotes, Gorky, Busa, Kamrowski—became intimate with the Surrealists. Surrealism was a way of life; its adherents were concerned with the quality of the life lived by their fellows and so were prone to form coteries. Breton was the judge of who was allowed to join the group, although his decisions were often arbitrary, dependent mainly on whether he liked an artist’s personality. He devised esoteric tests for admission. Baziotes told Thomas Hess about one such initiation rite:

Breton [through an interpreter] (hopefully): Now tell me, and this is most important, what did you feel against your father?

Baziotes: Hey! I loved Pop.

Breton (sadly): The things one is forced to put up with . . .10

Some Americans who would have been acceptable were not interested in joining the Surrealist clique. Breton’s quirks and Surrealist antics in general struck them as precious. Besides, they were by then fed up with programs of any sort (and especially, political ones), and they could think of no reason to associate with a group and to become embroiled in internecine feuds, jockeying for position and the resulting excommunications.

There were other factors which kept local and emigre artists apart: chauvinism, patronization and jealousy on both sides. The Europeans’ stance as artist-aristocrats was different from that of the ex-WPA proletarian. The emigre thought of himself as more sophisticated and acted generally as if he were in the sticks, patronizing even what he liked. Breton’s refusal to learn English was symptomatic of this attitude, and it kept him at a distance from most Americans. (In 1946, Ernst remarked that Breton “persists in thinking everything not French is imbecile.”)11 The New Yorkers in turn responded with a “Who do the French think they are, coming over here and . . .”, an attitude that could be equally snobbish.12 The fact that the Surrealists were looking for disciples did not help matters. Rothko, Gottlieb, Pollock, de Kooning and others had been artists for too long to assume inferior positions, particularly to artists they did not esteem as artists.

More important, many Americans objected to the kind of Surrealism favored by Breton and his circle. Breton responded more to ideological concepts than to painting and its values, and he wrote almost exclusively about ideas. The Americans were also occupied with what their pictures were about, but they were concerned as well with esthetic values. This made them uneasy with the orthodox Surrealists, as it did Masson, who wrote in 1946: “The Surrealist movement is essentially a literary movement . . . In literature the Surrealists are as insistent on the exact word as Boileau; but when it comes to painting they are very liberal in matters of structure. The spiritual directors of Surrealist painting are not of the profession.”13

Breton was heavily influenced by psychoanalytic procedures in which matter drawn from the preconscious was given oral form. This led him to believe that such imagery was essentially verbal.14 To be acceptable, pictorial themes had to be transposable into language. Therefore, he dismissed non objective art out of hand, speaking of it as formalist and inhuman, and even as the artistic counterpart of Fascism. However, Breton did reject the imitation of visual reality as trivial, and instead he insisted that artists plumb their subjects from preconscious sources, presenting them as “hand-painted photographs of dreams,” in Dali’s words, or as symbols which stood for inner states of mind. Because these symbols tended to be abstract, Breton assented to a degree of abstraction, and he admired Miró, Masson, Arp, Matta and Gorky. However, the artistshe usually championed were the more figurative, illusionistic and academic of the Surrealists, such trompe l’oeil illustrators of fantasies and compilers of incongruous, yet recognizable, motifs as Dali (who personified Surrealism during the thirties), Tanguy, Magritte and Delvaux.15

This side of Surrealism did not interest the New Yorkers. During the Depression decade, they had had to struggle against Social Protest and Regionalist realism, and they were not about to accept another brand of retrogressive painting. Abstraction had become inherent in their culture. Daliesque styles entailed no expansion of perception in the forties. Literary themes, no matter how strange, could no longer provoke surprise. Neither could the exploitation of the double image, infinite spaces, the juxtaposition of unrelated images, or explicit erotica. All had become clichés. Their attitude was reflected by Robert Coates in the New Yorker. Referring to Duchamp’s sixteen miles of twine in “The First Papers of Surrealism” show, he wrote:

However fresh and high spirited the concocters of the notion may have been when they started the job, they must have been pretty well tired of it by the time they finished, and my point is that much the same can be said of the ‘official’ Surrealist movement. That, too, has grown tired and tedious and a little repetitive . . . There are still men of inventive mind connected with the school—Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Matta, Miró . . . With the exception of Ernst, though, the work of these men seems to take them more and more out of the scope of the movement . . . and the school’s lesser figures content themselves with devout, unimaginative imitation.16

Greenberg was just as dissatisfied with conventional Surrealism: “The subject matter is different, but the result is the same as that the 19th-century academic artist sought . . . Where all problems have been solved only academicism is possible.”17 Greenberg asked whether the Surrealist image provoked “. . . a new way of seeing as well as new things to be seen. For such painters as Miró, Arp, Masson and Picasso, it certainly does. But not for Ernst, Dali . . . [There is] no fundamental change in the conventions of painting as established by the Renaissance . . . New anecdotes to illustrate . . . promoted the rehabilitation of academic art under a new literary disguise.”18

Breton’s bias against abstraction did not go unchallenged within the movement. Matta questioned it, and on the grounds that Breton himself had established in the first Surrealist manifesto in 1924. In it, he defined Surrealism as “. . . pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express verbally, in writing or by other means, the real process of thought. Thought’s dictation, in the absence of all control exercised by the reason and outside all esthetic or moral preoccupations.”19

Automatism had been widely practiced during the early days of Surrealism, but it was abandoned for what Breton termed the “reasoning stage,” particularly during the thirties. Matta called for a return to the earlier emphasis. He maintained that automatism was Surrealism’s most liberating innovation in that it enabled the unconscious mind to speak spontaneously, and that it should not be curbed by a too-rigorous insistence upon figuration.20 Paalen, a Surrealist, who had emigrated to Mexico, took a similar position. In the first issue of his magazine, Dyn, 1942 (on sale in New York) he wrote (in English):

Salvador Dali has . . . never made paintings which could be qualified as automatic. This point has to be clearly established because his defenders pretend that his academic style does not matter since he uses it as a means to relate automatically experienced images [of dreams]. But it is precisely for this reason that his painting instead of being automatic is simply an academic copy of a previously terminated psychological experience . . . The true value of the artistic image does not depend upon its capacity to represent, but upon its capacity to prefigure, i.e. upon its capacity to express potentially a new order of things. In order to distinguish between reactionary and revolutionary painting, it is enough to distinguish between what I shall call the representative image and the prefigurative image.21

Abstract automatism was the largely unexplored direction in Surrealist painting, as Matta and Onslow-Ford pointed out. Of the younger Surrealists, Matta had begun to experiment with it only in 1937; Onslow-Ford in 1938, and Paalen, who as late as 1939 was painting in an academic manner, still later. Its freshness appealed to the New Yorkers as did its tendency to abstraction and biomorphism. Organic forms as opposed to geometric suggested anthropomorphic sources, life both inner and outer in all of its rich, changeable and ambiguous variety, and so pointed to a humanist content.

Gorky, Pollock, Baziotes and others, even before they had met Matta, were aware of automatism as a technique. They were familiar with the works of Miró and Arp (both greatly admired by abstract artists here during the thirties), and knew John Graham or had read his book, System and Dialectics of Art, 1936, in which he stressed the need for “automatic ‘ecriture’.”22 (De Kooning, Gottlieb and Rothko were also friends of Graham.) But Matta was influential in promoting that method. More than the other Surrealists, he made himself available to young New Yorkers. A keen intellectual and scintillating conversationalist, he was able to focus attention on issues, to crystallize and dramatize them verbally. Matta appealed to a number of local artists for support in what he deemed an attempt to renew Surrealism and to save it from becoming an Academy. He organized a group to explore the possibilities of automatism, and perhaps to challenge Breton’s orthodoxy. The artists he enlisted were Motherwell, Baziotes, Pollock, Kamrowski and Busa.23 They met at his home about a half dozen times in the winter of 194142. However, the group soon fell apart. The New Yorkers shied away from Matta who, because he was better known, tried to dominate, to be a “pope” like Breton. Furthermore, they did not see the need to organize for any purpose.

The New Yorkers also became suspicious of Matta because of his anti esthetic bias and his negative attitude to the tradition of modern art, shared by the Surrealists as a whole.24 Surrealism (like Dada) did not evolve chiefly as an extension of earlier tendencies in art, as did Fauvism and Cubism. Rather, it developed from philosophical, psychological and political premises that aimed at revolutionizing man and society. Compared to this aspiration, or even as a means of furthering it, the creation of paintings appeared as a “lamentable expedient,” as Breton said.25 The New Yorkers, far less interested in theoretical polemics or convinced of their importance, did not agree. To them, being Surrealist artists meant more than being artistic Surrealists. Moreover, as Masson later wrote, to the Surrealists: “The admirable achievement of Seurat, Matisse and the Cubists was counted as nothing. Their exalted conception of space and their discovery of essentially pictorial means were treated as a burdensome legacy which had to be thrown overboard!”26 This legacy the New Yorkers refused to jettison.

Matta distrusted a concern for formal values, for he reasoned that to depict irrational impulses, one had to spurn picture-making. The state of being possessed—of being controlled by preconscious forces—was incompatible with the act of possessing—of being under control. Masterliness, after all, required mastery. Therefore, Matta ridiculed the tedium of creation, the activity of “producers,” of “men with a profession.” Matta understood, of course, that automatism could never be “pure,” that pictures had to be consciously organized in some degree, but he minimized the role of the artist as maker.

The New Yorkers did not consider automatism in itself sufficient. Their point of view was reflected by Paalen: “Automatism . . . can be no more than incantatory technique, and not creative expression . . . The kaleidoscopic flow of the painter, emancipated in automatism, [is] nothing but raw material . . . In order that there may be a poem or a painting, language must become articulate. The overflow multicolored sauce or the verbal inflation finally become as boring . . . as the petty algebra of rectangular plastic purism.”27 Masson agreed; “Only so much as can be reabsorbed esthetically from that which the automatic approach provides should be utilized. For art has an authentic value of its own which is not replaced by psychiatric interest.”28

Motherwell was close to Matta and absorbed his theory of automatism. During the summer of 1941 he visited Mexico with Matta, met Paalen and stayed on through the fall and early winter to work with him.29 The influence of Paalen in part prompted Motherwell to modify his ideas. In an article of 1944, he changed the Surrealist term “psychic automatism” to “plastic automatism.” “Plastic automatism . . . as employed by modern masters, like Masson, Miró and Picasso, is actually very little a question of the unconscious. It is much more a plastic weapon with which to invent new forms. As such it is one of the 20th century’s greatest formal inventions.”30 Gorky, Hofmann, Pollock, de Kooning, Baziotes, Gottlieb and Rothko were also occupied with “plastic” qualities. Indeed, a primary problem for them was to employ automatism and, at the same time, to cultivate the pictorial values threatened by this technique—the structural cogency and painterly finesse that they admired in the pictures of Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian and Miró. For it was from these and other modern masters, particularly the Cubists, that the New Yorkers derived their conception of a modern picture and the sense of how it should project. Strongly “panel conscious,” as William Seitz has put it, they would not accept the illusionistic, deep space favored by Matta as well as by Dali.31 They realized that if a picture was painted in a banal manner, it could never be marvelous, and that was the reason for being of Surrealist art. They wanted to arrive at their forms freely and directly while organizing them into coherent entities—to have it both ways.

Such New Yorkers as Gottlieb, Rothko, Pollock and Baziotes also differed from the Surrealists in exile in their choice of themes. Oriented to Freud, the Europeans in general depicted psychological experiences; dreams, hallucinations, etc. The New Yorkers employed automatism to reveal what they believed to be the residues of universal myths that continued to live in the inner mind—an approach that was anticipated by Jung. Gottlieb, Rothko and Newman wrote in 1943 that they were concerned with primitive myths and symbols that continue to have meaning today. “Only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess kinship with primitive and archaic art.”32 The Surrealists appreciated primitive art enough to collect it, but with the exception of Masson and Lam, they spurned myth-making in their own work.33 Their policy was set forth in an editorial in View, April, 1943: “It has been suggested . . . that the role of the artist consists in creating new myths. But the progressive forces in history have always followed an opposite trend . . . We [support] the infinitely more advanced because more human interpretation of motivations which Freud has given us . . . We are against myths . . . be they pagan or Christian.” Instead of “escapism through myths,” the editorial called for “the magic view of life.”34 In that same year, Gottlieb pointed out the myth-makers’ divergence from Surrealism: “. . . to us it is not enough to illustrate dreams.” Far more significant was “the spiritual meaning underlying all archaic works.”35

At the end of the war, organized Surrealist activities all but ended in America. Many of the emigres returned to Europe. On the whole, they had not been at ease here, and their work suffered (although the falling off was probably the result of the growing staleness of their pictorial ideas). As Max Ernst recalled in 1946:

During my first months in New York there were many Paris painters here. At first the Surrealist group seemed to have real strength; but little by little they began to break up. It was hard to see one another in New York. The café life was lacking. In Paris at six-o’ clock any evening you knew on what café terrace you could find Giacometti or Eluard. Here you would have to phone and make an appointment in advance. And the pleasure of a meeting had worn off before it took place. As a result, in New York we had artists, but no art. Art . . . is to a great degree a product of [artists’] exchange of ideas . . . There is more loneliness—more isolation among artists [here] than in Paris.36

View, the last of the Surrealist magazines, stopped publication in 1947, and in that year, Peggy Guggenheim closed her gallery.

By then, Surrealist art had ceased to generate excitement among the New York artists whom Robert Coates, somewhat earlier, had called the Abstract Expressionists. In 1947, Nicolas Calas organized a show at the Hugo Gallery, entitled Bloodflames, for which he wrote an introduction. The exhibition consisted of works by Hare, Gorky, Kamrowski, Lam, Matta, Noguchi, Phillips and Raynal, installed in an environment by Kiesler. The Surrealist tendency evident in the display, because it was so abstract, stimulated some discussion, but it was the last time that happened.37. Individual works, however, were dealt with on their merits. The year Bloodflames was held, the Abstract Expressionists began to achieve independent, radical and major abstract styles which could not be thought of as Surrealist. The ideas embodied in them engaged the most vital artists of the period, for they possessed the power to inspire creation as Surrealism no longer did.

The article above is extracted from Mr. Sandler’s forthcoming history of Abstract Expressionism.



1. The Portrait and the Modern Artist, mimeographed script of a broadcast by Gottlieb and Rothko on “Art in New York, H. Stix, director, WNYC, New York, October 13, 1943, p. 3.

2. Robert Goldwater, “Reflections on the New York School,” Quadrum, 8, 1960, p. 24.

3. Clement Greenberg, “New York Painting Only Yesterday,” Art News, Summer, 1957, p. 85.

4. Goldwater, op. cit., p. 22.

5. Edward Alden Jewell, “End-of-the-Season Melange,” New York Times, June 6, 1943, sec. 2, p. 9.

6. Among the patrons of the Surrealists were the sponsors of “The First Papers of Surrealism” show, 1942: Peggy Guggenheim, Sidney Janis, Walter C. Arensberg, Robert Allerton Parker, Marian Willard, Katherine S. Dreier, Mrs. George Henry Warren, Pierre Matisse, Princess Gourielli, Thomas F. Howard, John Latouche, Mary Jane Gold, Bernard J. Reis, Ector Munn, James J. Sweeney, John Barrett, Isabelle Kent, Elsa Schiaparelli.

7. View first appeared in September, 1940; it was edited by Charles Henri Ford. VVV was issued in June, 1942; only three numbers were published. It was edited by David Hare; its editorial advisors were Breton, Max Ernst, and later, Duchamp.

8. Gordon Onslow Ford, “The Painter Looks Within Himself,” London Bulletin, June, 1940, pp. 30–31.

9. Among the artists in “The First Papers of Surrealism” show were Arp, Bellmer, Dominguez, Picasso, Delvaux, Magritte, Ubec, Styrsky, Toyen, Giacometti, Oppenheim, Moore, Chagall, Penrose, Alverez Bravo, Francés, Kahlo, Onslow-Ford, Remedios, Arenas, Caceres, Klee, Hedda Sterne, Hare, Breton, Carrington, jimmy Ernst, Max Ernst, Brauner, Hirshfield, Vail, Miró, Seligmann, de Chirico, Duchamp, Matta, Tanguy, Masson, Sage, Calder, Lam, Oelze, Motherwell, Baziotes, Barbara Reis and Kiesler.

10. Thomas B. Hess, “William Baziotes, 1912–1963,” Location, Summer, 1964, p. 88.

11. Max Ernst, “Eleven Europeans in America,” Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, v. 13, n. 4–5, 1946, pp. 17–18.

12. David Hare, interviewed by Irving Sandler, June 2, 1964.

13. Andre Masson, “Eleven Europeans in America,” Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, v. 13, n. 4–5, 1946, p. 4.

14. David Hare interview, op. cit.

15. In an interview, View, October-November, 1941, p. 2, Andre Breton listed the artists he admired. They were Ernst, Masson, Tanguy, Magritte, Paalen, Seligmann, Brauner, Carrington, Sage, Hayter, Dominguez, Lam, Matta, Onslow-Ford, Francés, Cornell and Hare. In Art of This Century, edited by Peggy Guggenheim, New York, 1942, pp. 13–27, Breton singled out Ernst, Masson, Miró, Tanguy, Magritte, Brauner, Paalen, Lam, Seligmann, Oelze, Delvaux, Bellmer, Cornell, Hirsgfield, Dominguez, Hayter, Malta, Frances and Onslow-ford.

16. Robert Coates, “The Art Galleries: Sixteen Miles of String,” New Yorker, October 31, 1942, p. 72.

17. Clement Greenberg, “Surrealist Painting,” Nation, August 12, 1944. o. 193.

18. Clement Greenberg, Op. Cit. p. 219–220.

19. Andre Breton, What is Surrealism? (translated by David Gascoyne), London, 1936, p. 59.

20. In 1942, it appeared as if Breton might favor “automatism” over trompe l’oeil. In Art of This Century, p. 20, he wrote: “Indeed, the chief discovery of Surrealism is, that without any preconceived intention, the pen that flows in writing and the pencil that runs in drawing spin an infinitely precious substance, which . . . appears charged with all the emotional ardor stored up within the poet and painter at a given moment . . . Automatism . . . remains one of the two main trends of Surrealism . . . I maintain that Automatism . . . in writing and drawing . . . is the only mode of expression which gives entire satisfaction to both eye and ear by achieving a rhythmic unity . . . It is the only structure that corresponds . . . to the non distinction, more and more established, between functions of the intellect and of the senses (which is why nothing else can satisfy the demands of the mind to the same extent) . . . The Surrealism in a work is in direct proportion to the efforts the artist had made to embrace the whole psychophysical field, of which consciousness is only a small fraction. In these unfathomable depths there prevails, according to Freud, a total absence of contradiction, a release from the emotional fetters caused by repression, a lack of temporality and the substitution of external reality by psychic reality obedient to the pleasure principle and no other. Automatism leads us straight into these regions. The other road Surrealism might have followed—the setting up of dream images in the form of trompe l’oeil (and that is its weakness)—has been proved by experience to be far more dangerous, and the risks of straying into error are innumerable.“ But Breton continued as before to favor and to promote the trompe l’oeil Surrealists.

21. Wolfgang Paalen, “The New Image,” Dyn, 1, April–May, 1942, p. 9. (translated from the French by Robert Motherwell).

22. John D. Graham, System and Dialectics of Art, New York, 1936, p. 55.

23. Robert Motherwell, interviewed by Irving Sandler, June 16, 1957, recalled that Matta’s purpose in organizing the young New Yorkers was to challenge Breton’s leadership. Rosamund Frost (“Matta’s third Surrealist Manifesto,” Art News, Feb. 15, 1944, p. 181 had a similar impression of Matta’s aim. Matta, in an interview with Max Kozloff, Artforum, September, 1965, p. 25, said: “What interested me was to see if everybody could apply the system that to me was fascinating at the time, to use morphology about my psychic responses to life. And everyone would invent their own morphology, and express this question. I tried to infect them with the idea, as something very good, something in which they could find wealth in their own terms.” Matta probably had the idea of forming a group to experiment with automatism as early as 1940, for Onslow-Ford in “The Painter Looks Within Himself,” London Bulletin, June, 1940, p. 31, wrote: “In this realm of scientific poetry there lies a philosophy, and we hope to start a bureau of analytical research to study the most important creations of the century in coordination with all branches of science. Painters who join our research will he able to play their part in the formation of a new world.”

Individual Americans stressed different aspects of automatist and biomorphic abstraction. For example, Motherwell was more interested in doodling as a technique; Baziotes, in biomorphic fantasy.

24. William Baziotes, interviewed by Irving Sandler, May 28, 1958.

25. William Rubin, “Toward a Critical Framework: Notes on Surrealism and Fantasy Art,” Artforum, September, 1966, p. 36.

26. Andre Masson, “Painting as a Wager,” Yale French Studies, 31, 1964, p. 124.

27. Wolfgang. Paalen, “The New Image,” Form and Sense, New York, 1945, p. 34. (This essay was written in 1941.)

28. Masson, op. cit., 1946, p. 4.

29. Frank O’Hara, Robert Motherwell, New York, 1965, p. 74.

30. Robert Motherwell, “The Modern Painter’s World,” Dyn, November, 1944, p. 13.

31. William Seitz, Abstract Expressionist Painting in America: An Interpretation Based on the Work and Thought of Six Key Figures, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Princeton University, 1955, p. 110.

32. Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, “Letter to the Editor,” New York Times, June 13, 1943, sec. 2, p. 9.

33. On the flyleaf of the First Papers of Surrealism, New York, 1942, the catalog to the show, appears a statement titled “Primitive Art,” unsigned but probably written by Breton: “Surrealism is only trying to rejoin the most durable traditions of mankind. Among the primitive peoples art always goes beyond what is conventionally and arbitrarily called the ‘real.’ The natives of the Northwest Pacific coast, the Pueblos, New Guinea, New Ireland, the Marquesas, among others have made objets which Surrealists particularly appreciate. (Collections Max Ernst, C. Lévy-Strauss, Andre Breton, Pierre Matisse, Carlbach, Segredakis)”

34. “The Point of View—An Editorial,” View, April, 1943, p. 5.

35. “The Portrait and the Modern Artist,” mimeographed script of broadcast by Gottlieb and Rothko, October 13, 1943, pp. 3–4.

36. Max Ernst, op. cit., 1946, pp. 17–18.

37. There are parallels between the reception in New York of the Bloodflames show as a manifestation of a direction and the reception in Paris of the international Surrealist show at the Galerie Maeght in the same year. William Rubin remarks (Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, New York, 1968, p. 176) that the Parisian exhibition “received enormous attention and enjoyed great publicity, but this interest was inspired more by curiosity than by any real urge to participate in or support Surrealism. Current French art was left untouched by the show.”