New York in the 1940s

Selection from the Collection

With the outbreak of World War II, numerous European artists, including many Surrealists, sought refuge in New York. Here, they exhibited at numerous galleries and museums, allowing an emerging vanguard of American painters to encounter the European avant-garde.

Art Exhibition previously on at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, United States.
From Friday 13 June 2008 to Monday 08 September 2008

Untitled (Green Silver) image

Published by Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, NY on Wednesday 03 September 2008.
Contact the publisher.

Among the prominent émigrés from this era was Wolfgang Paalen, a Surrealist artist who spent the 1940s in New York, California, and Mexico. In 1942, Paalen published his essay “Farewell to Surrealism” in the first issue of DYN, an art journal he founded. Publicly parting with the founder of Surrealism André Breton, Paalen devoted his journal primarily to the new generation of American abstract painters—including William Baziotes, Robert Motherwell, and Jackson Pollock—who valued Surrealism’s aesthetic paths to the unconscious. Breton, in response, founded VVV, edited by David Hare, with collaborators Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. Published in New York, the journal became a vehicle for European artist émigrés to communicate with young American artists.

The nascent New York School took inspiration from diverse sources: the biomorphic and pictographic work of early Surrealists as well as their later, increasingly abstract experiments with automatism; primitive myths and ancient cultures; totemism; and Jungian thought and archetypes. The new American painters, including Baziotes, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko, mined myth and art history for imagery and subject matter that summoned the