New York

Wifredo Lam

Gimpel and Weitzenhoffer

I’m just old enough to know I remember it correctly: there was a time when Wifredo Lam was considered an important painter. It was when Matta was, too. Surrealismhad succeeded Cubism as the dominant art movement in France, and candidates were needed to succeed Arp, Ernst and Tanguy as its leaders; Breton apostrophized Lam, and he became one of them. Lam’s themes are taken from a lot of work of the early thirties, such as Giacometti’s and Brauner’s, but he renders his motifs very differently: with a flat desiccation that comes from Analytical Cubism. Yet these flat shapes are put in the deep space that is necessary for images that are very naturalistic and were naturalistically rendered by Tanguy, Dali and the others who first developed them. There are so many borrowings and confusions in Lam’s work that one expects the result to be original! Actually, the work is not so very bad; but it

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