new-york

Unica Zürn

The Drawing Center

This compelling exhibition reflected a growing recognition of Unica Zürn as an important late Surrealist. Her first major exhibition in the United States since a well-received show at New York’s Ubu Gallery in 2005, it featured forty-nine of the German-born artist’s works—primarily drawings on paper in ink, pencil, and/or gouache, as well as three paintings. None larger than a large sketch pad, the works were arranged around the blue-gray painted walls of the gallery in a generally chronological hang spanning 1953 to 1970.

Zürn had been a writer before she met the Surrealist photographer Hans Bellmer in Berlin in 1953 and moved with him, that same year, to Paris, where she became part of a circle that included Man Ray, André Breton, Max Ernst, and others, and was introduced to “automatic drawing.” This technique was originally designed to bypass the “rational” through a passive, “nondirected”

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