Issue 14, Autumn 1956
Though one knows that André Masson, one of France’s foremost artists, started painting in those already distant years when cubism triumphed and that he participated, as few did, in the now almost equally remote surrealist attempt to hoist new mythologies from the unconscious, one cannot help but think of him as youthful. That is because today as much as ever he is a man who searches rather than finds: —or better: whose best finds are in the searching. Masson aspires to completeness even at the risk of tensions and conflicts. He is a diver into the soul’s darkness who is also one of today’s rare intellectual painters. Relentless anxiety and insatiable curiosity drive him on. No sooner has he caught the image of the dryad than he longs for that of the tree, and under his brush or pen the contours of ordinary objects may tend at any time to take on the air of some ominous writing on the wall. All things are forever in vehement turmoil, in fiery transition. A hill will turn into a woman, then into an insect, and finally take to flight as some unspeakable divinity. This constant flux, this panting change might easily engender aesthetic confusion. Not so: Masson always remains on top of the threatening wave. At every turn, he finds the appropriate though temporary formulas with lightning speed. And he finds them within him: in that unvarying ability to probe the surface of paper or canvas with swift, feverish, unhesitating gestures that summon forth the saving image. He thus brings constancy to change. Masson exorcizes his—and our age’s—torment: under his fingers the weight of restlessness becomes the elation of metamorphosis.