Portrait automatique de l'automate d'Albert-le-Grand [Automatic Portrait of the Automaton of Albertus Magnus]
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2004

Reference URL

Portrait automatique de l'automate d'Albert-le-Grand [Automatic Portrait of the Automaton of Albertus Magnus] 1938
This 'portrait' was made with a technique known as decalcomania, frequently used by the the Surrealists. Paint was brushed onto very smooth paper, which was covered immediately with another sheet of paper. The two pages were pressed together and then the top sheet was removed to reveal a spongy-textured and highly suggestive surface. The subject of the picture was inspired by the images the artist could 'read' into the textured paint. Hugnet has satirically titled his work a portrait of Albertus Magnus, a thirteenth-century, German theologian and alchemist who was a hero of the Surrealist group.

Glossary Open

Decalcomania

Surrealist technique for generating images by applying paint to one surface which is then pressed against another surface to transfer the design. A variation is popular with young school children, who apply paint to paper which is then folded.

Surrealism

A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Decalcomania, Surrealism

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 3988
  • Medium Ink on paper
  • Size 37.90 x 29.00 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Gabrielle Keiller 1995