Georges Hugnet Portrait automatique de l'automate d'Albert-le-Grand [Automatic Portrait of the Automaton of Albertus Magnus] 1938 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2023


Born 1906
Died 1974
Nationality French
Birth place Paris
Death place Saint-Martin-de-Ré

Poet, critic and book-lover Georges Hugnet spent his childhood in Argentina, moving to France in 1913. He was involved in the surrealist movement from 1933 to 1938, taking part in activities such as poetry, making collages and creating book covers for the Surrealists. Hugnet used the automatic technique of decalcomania, both on the endpapers of books and as an artistic practice in its own right. Hugnet's beautifully-bound books were considered as equal in value to objects created by the surrealist group and some were exhibited at the Exhibition of Surrealist Objects in Paris in 1936.

Glossary terms

Glossary terms


A painting, drawing or writing process that aims to suppress rational thought, allowing the subconscious to take control. This spontaneous approach is associated with Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.


A technique for generating images by applying paint to one surface, which is then pressed against another surface to transfer the design. The term was popularised by the Surrealists in the early twentieth century. A variation is popular with young school children in a process often referred to as a ‘butterfly print’, where paint applied to paper is then folded and opened again. The shortened version of the term commonly used today is ‘decal.’