Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The myth of Sisyphus

My last post about Max Klinger reminded me that I have some very exciting lithographs by André Masson on the same theme of the myth of Sisyphus. They were made in 1962 for an edition of Le mythe de Sisyphe by Albert Camus. The lithographs were printed on pearly Japon nacré paper by Mourlot, in an edition of 200 copies. The book was printed in an edition of 5000 copies, all on Arches wove paper. The 200 suites also had an additional print (the first illustrated in this post), not included in the books, and hand-signed by André Masson. Mine is justified 46/200.

André Masson, Sisyphe
Lithograph, 1962

André Masson, The myth of Sisyphus I
Lithograph, 1962

André Masson, The myth of Sisyphus II
Lithograph, 1962

André Masson, The myth of Sisyphus III
Lithograph, 1962

André Masson, The myth of Sisyphus IV
Lithograph, 1962

André Masson was born in Balagny-sur-Thérain in France, but brought up in Belgium. He studied in Brussels and at the Beaux-Arts, Paris. He was seriously injured fighting for France in WWI. In the 1920s André Masson was one of the founders of Surrealism, and although he dissociated himself from Breton and the surrealists in the 1930s, his life'’s work is nevertheless best understood in the context of Surrealism. The art of André Masson was condemned as degenerate by the Nazis, and he fled to America for the years 1941-5, where his work was a huge influence on the Abstract Expressionists. There was a major Masson retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976.


Unknown said...

as an art lover myself, i love all your posts

Neil said...

Thanks, Makavetis - and you win a virtual prize for being the quickest response ever to a post - almost immediate! If Sisyphus himself were so quick, he would get that rock to the top of the hill before the gods ever noticed.

Matías Amici said...

Excellent post. This blog is awesome. I love masson lithos. I didn´t know him. Thank you. Very good info, always.

Neil said...

Thanks, Matías. Masson was a fantastic artist, a Surrealist with a lyrical touch.

Jane Librizzi said...

With Masson, the rock is definitely the star of the show. Sisyphus seems posivitely de-materialized from his efforts or perhaps Masson imagined a visual equivalent for his mental state. Abstraction, in this case, seems more powerful than an easily recognizable symbolism, I think.

Neil said...

Beautifully put, Jane.

designerman said...

so nice to get your comment-especially thrilling from someone as knowledgable as you.

Roxana said...

oh i am spellbound by the first one, it looks chinese or japanese to me. was this a conscious approach from his part?

here is a chinese picture that i adore:

Neil said...

Roxana, I agree there is an oriental feel, but I don't think it was deliberately sought. Masson was the first of the Surrealists to experiment with automatic drawing, and I think he developed from this a wonderful fluidity and economy of line, so that his art ends up rather like Chinese brush painting but by a quite different route.