“Farewell to Surrealism” is the title of a 1943 essay by Austrian artist-critic Wolfgang Paalen published in the inaugural issue of the journal Dyn. The journal was founded by Paalen and an international group of writers and artists taking refuge in Mexico City during World War II. Several of them, including Paalen, British painter Gordon Onslow Ford, Peruvian writer César Moro, and French artist Alice Rahon, had been part of André Breton’s Parisian surrealist circle in the 1930s. When they arrived in Mexico, they were still proponents of surrealism. Two years later, however, this group had broken with Breton and set out to define a new direction for art, looking to pre-Columbian cultures on the one hand and social and physical sciences on the other. Their vision coalesced in the pages of Dyn.
While recent scholarship has treated individual artists in the circle, this study is the first to examine the new aesthetic found in Dyn itself. Transformed by the mysterious pre-Columbian artifacts and monuments in Mexico, distressed by the failure of political ideology, and inspired by scientific discoveries of the day, these artists played a critical but under-recognized role in the transition from surrealism to abstract expressionism. This catalogue accompanies an exhibition of the same name on view at the Getty Research Institute from October 2, 2012, to February 17, 2013.
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About the Author
Annette Leddy is a senior cataloguer and a consulting curator at the Getty Research Institute. Donna Conwell is an associate curator at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California. Dawn Ades is a semi-retired professor at the University of Essex.