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.
- Wolfgang Paalen
- L'autophage (Fulgurites)
- Oil with smoke on cardboard laid down on wood
- 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)
- Through prior gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman