Nathalie Joffre


André Masson, l'oublié
Etude de la réception de l’œuvre en France

Research Director : Guitemie Madonaldo.
Available in French at the Library of the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art (Paris) and upon request.


The work of André Masson, even if traditionally considered as surrealist, is today little exhibited and studied, and it was the same during his life. Yet when we considered his oeuvre as a whole, it clearly goes far beyond surrealist boundaries and cannot in the final analysis be classified with any specific movement of modern art, a factor which perhaps explains the lack of interest in his art.

In any event, even within the Surrealist movement, art history seems to have neglected him (…), which would appear a bit unfair. In fact, his recognition in the United States, coupled with the admiration he aroused in a great many leading intellectuals, who nevertheless felt that his painting might not necessarily stand out, is proof that he was not the fickle and too literary painter, or merely a second-rate surrealist, as was often said.

How has art criticism evolved during the 20th century and how has it contributed to change the image of the painter? To what extent have exhibitions on his work focused on a period or another, and what have been the consequences? This essay tries to answer these questions on the basis of the study of press articles, reviews, and exhibition catalogues, edited in France from 1924 until now.