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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Óscar Domínguez
TORO Y TORERO (COMPOSITION AU TAUREAU)
JUMP TO LOT
68

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Óscar Domínguez
TORO Y TORERO (COMPOSITION AU TAUREAU)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Surrealist Art Evening Sale

|
London

Óscar Domínguez
1906-1957
TORO Y TORERO (COMPOSITION AU TAUREAU)
oil on canvas
106.8 by 77.5cm.
42 by 30 1/2 in.
Painted circa 1934-35.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Ana Vàzquez de Parga.

Provenance

André Breton, Paris (acquired from the artist)

Private Collection, France (by descent from the above. Sold: Calmels Cohen, Paris, André Breton. 42, rue Fontaine, 14th April 2003, lot 4009)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Madrid, Fundación Telefónica, Óscar Domínguez, surrealista, 2001-02, no. 6, illustrated in colour in the catalogue & illustrated on the cover

Literature

Óscar Domínguez Antológica 1926-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1996, illustrated in a photograph p. 277

Victoria Combalía, 'La venta de Breton: escándalo o azar', in El País, 5th April 2003, mentioned p. 41

Le Part du jeu et du rêve. Óscar Domínguez et le surréalisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Cantini, Marseille, 2005, illustrated in colour p. 22

Catalogue Note

Toro y Torero is one of Óscar Domínguez’s most important compositions from the early years of his association with the Surrealists in Paris. It is executed with impeccable detailing and rich colouration, ripe with symbolism and surreal suggestion. In the lower right corner of the composition Domínguez has placed a gold monstrance and chalice, and in the centre a vast bull rises from a wooden chair leg firmly rooted in the soil. In the sky above, a toreador decked in the red and yellow colours of Spain somersaults away from the beast, but is to the bull bound by swirling tendrils jetting from the horns and the hilt of his sword. Toro y Torero is a potent image of organic renewal, which like other paintings from this period (fig. 2), muses on the nature of imagination and dreams.

Domínguez’s work from this period shares its magical, dreamlike aesthetic with other Surrealist painters such as Ernst and Dalí whose work he would have encountered in Paris. Works by both artists commonly feature small, exquisitely rendered motifs embedded within a larger creature, which are revealed as if by vivisection or mutate out from one another. Max Ernst’s cross-section of a monstrous beast, La Belle Saison (fig. 3), features a similar arrangement of exposed cavities as those in Toro y Torero. Domínguez’s relocation to Paris in 1934 undoubtedly gave his work a greater impetus, but as with many of his compatriots the subject of his work retained a strong nationalistic streak. Toro y Torero is an especially important work in the artist’s œuvre because of its references to Spanish culture and religion. The motif of the corrida was central to many Iberian artists’ depiction of conflict, and continued to feature in Domínguez’s works (fig. 4). The theatrical, ritualistic slaughter of the bull inspired none more so than Picasso, who frequently used the bull as a symbol of masculinity and aggression. In the present work the toreador and the bull are held in a delicate balance stemming from the earth which is laid on a foundation of religious artefacts. It is perhaps a visual metaphor for the symbiosis of church and state –which was being challenged by events that would later lead to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

In 1934 Domínguez made his first appearance at the Café de la Place Blanche, where André Breton held court amidst the Surrealists, wrapped - as was his habit - in an enormous overcoat that made him ‘look like a bear’. As Marcel Jean explains ‘The Parisian winter had always had a depressing effect on this native of Tenerife, where the temperature never drops below 70°F at any time of the year. Domínguez had already paid several visits to Paris. [He moved there permanently] after the death of his father, a land-owner who had bequeathed his children nothing but debts’ (M. Jean, The History of Surrealist Painting, Paris, 1960, p. 238). Although he had achieved some success as a commercial artist, Domínguez strove to become a serious avant-garde painter. In 1933 he had, without official endorsement from the Paris group, held an exhibition of his work at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in which he assumed the title of a ‘Surrealist’. His settling in Paris precipitated an outpouring of artistic breakthroughs; grand, painterly compositions, spectacular surrealist objects and decalcomanic arrangements emerged from his studio from 1934 onward. A photograph of Domínguez’s high-ceilinged studio at the Rue des Abbesses shows the present work in situ (fig. 1). This invaluable piece of evidence situates Toro y Torero at the very heart of Domínguez’s finest period. Domínguez lived in the Montmartre atelier with his companion Roma, a Polish girl who according to Marcel Jean ‘fed him almost entirely on minced beef’ (M. Jean, op. cit., p. 241).

The first owner of Toro y Torero was the leader of the Surrealist group André Breton. Breton’s fundamentally important role in the course of twentieth century art began with his friendship of Guillaume Apollinaire, who introduced him to Picasso, de Chirico and Derain. An early editorial venture was the journal Littérature which first appeared in 1919 and for five years celebrated the most avant-garde artists of the post-war period, in particular the key exponents of Dada - Duchamp, Picabia, Ernst, Arp and Man Ray. By the time Dada had foundered amidst in-fighting, Breton had already begun to gather most of the leading painters in Paris towards Surrealism. Throughout the 1930s in Paris and much of the 1940s in America, Breton acted as a critic and champion of these artists and his passionate avowal of their art led them to international recognition and acclaim. Understandably this also ensured that Breton possessed a diverse and truly exceptional collection of their best works, much of which has found its way into museums across the world, including the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The present work remained in the Breton family until 2003, when his collection was sold at auction in Paris.


Surrealist Art Evening Sale

|
London