L'autophage (Fulgurites)

A work made of oil with smoke on cardboard laid down on wood.

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  • A work made of oil with smoke on cardboard laid down on wood.

Date:

1938

Artist:

Wolfgang Paalen
Austrian, 1905–1959

About this artwork

In 1935 Wolfgang Paalen joined the Paris Surrealists; he participated in their exhibitions and embraced their unconventional forms of art making. Paalen soon made his own contribution to Surrealist experimental techniques—fumage. To make a fumage, the artist would pass the flame of a lit candle over the freshly prepared surface of a canvas and allow the smoke to collect there, resulting in an unplanned composition, here suggestive of passing clouds. When the artist fled Europe a year later, he took this work with him to New York, exhibiting it at the Julien Levy Gallery. Fledgling Abstract Expressionists Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Jackson Pollock saw it there. Although Paalen stayed in the United States for only a short time before immigrating to Mexico, he was instrumental in introducing Surrealist automatism to the New York avant-garde.

On View

Modern Art, Gallery 395

Artist

Wolfgang Paalen

Title

L'autophage (Fulgurites)

Origin

Austria

Date

1938

Medium

Oil with smoke on cardboard laid down on wood

Dimensions

12.4 × 16.4 cm (4 3/4 × 16 1/2 in.) (cardboard); 27.6 × 32 cm (10 7/8 × 12 5/8 in.) (wood support)

Credit Line

Through prior gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman

Reference Number

2011.125

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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