Lot 51
  • 51

André Masson

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • André Masson
  • signed André Masson (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 50 by 65cm.
  • 19 5/8 by 25 5/8 in.


Galerie Simon, Paris
Melle Eichman
Private Collection, Lugano
Galleria Toninelli, Milan
Edward Totah Gallery, London
Sale: Sotheby's, London, 1st April 1987, lot 240
Sale: Christie's, London, 26th June 2001, lot 274
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Simon, André Masson: Espagne 1934-1936, 1936, no. 14
London, Edward Totah Gallery & Milan, Galleria Seno, André Masson - œuvres 1922-1978, 1988, no. 10, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Rome, Villa Medici & Auxerre, Centre Culturel de l'Abbaye de Saint-Germain, André Masson - L'insurgé du XXe siècle, 1988-89, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Zaragoza, Museo Camón Aznar; Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes; Logrono, Museo de la Rioja, Sala Amos Salvador; Valencia, Museo de Bellas Artes & Palma de Mallorca, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, André Masson en Espana 1933-1943, 1992-93, no. 17, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts & Tossa de Mar, Museu Municipal, Masson et Bataille, 1993-94, no. 5, illustrated in colour in the catalogue and detail illustrated on the cover
Aosta, Museo Archeologico, André Masson - La saggezza delirante della natura, 1995, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Metz, Musée de la Cour d'Or, André Masson: un combat, 1998-99, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Saint Petersburg, Florida, Salvador Dalí Museum, André Masson: the 1930s, 1999-2000, no. 19, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais & Barcelona, Museu Picasso, Paris - Barcelona 1888-1937, 2001-02, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (titled Amanecer en Monstserrat)
Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporània & Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Gaudì Universe, 2002-03, no. 294, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, André Masson, 2004, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Künzelsau, Würth Museum, André Masson - A Mythology of Nature, 2004-05, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporània, Il Luminacions - Catalunya visionària, 2009, no. 167, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
New York, Blain Di Donna, André Masson. The Mythology of Desire: Masterworks from 1925-1945, 2012, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


André Masson, 'Du Haut de Montserrat' & Georges Bataille, 'Le Bleu du ciel', in Minotaure, vol. II, no. 8, 15/06, Paris, 1936, illustrated p. 50
Michel Leiris & Georges Limbour, André Masson et son univers, Geneva & Paris, 1947, illustrated p. 108
Arturo Schwarz, I Surrealisti, Milan, 1969, illustrated p. 62
Jean-Paul Clébert, Mythologie d'André Masson, Geneva, 1971, no. 91, illustrated (with incorrect measurements)
Mattheus Bernd, Georges Bataille, Eine Thanatographie, Munich, 1984, vol. I, illustrated p. 333
Axel Matthes & Helmut Klewan, André Masson Gesammelte Schriften I, Munich, 1990, illustrated p. 191 (as dating from 1933)
Glòria Bosch & Teresa Grandas, André Masson et Georges Bataille 'Complicitats', Tossa de Mar, 1994, illustrated p. 112
Dawn Ades, André Masson, Barcelona & Paris, 1994, no. 49, illustrated in colour
Glòria Bosch, 'Masson & Bataille. El antes y despues de Tossa de Mar', in Ars Mediterranea, vol. VIII, no. 7, Barcelona, 1995, no. 2, illustrated in colour p. 9
Georges Bataille, L'apprenti sorcier, Paris, 1999, illustrated in colour on the cover
David Lomas, The Haunted Self - Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity, New Haven & London, 2000, no. 20, illustrated in colour p. 43
Camille Morando, Peinture, Dessin, Sculpture et Littérature autour du Collège de Sociologie pendant l'entre-deux-guerres (PhD), La Sorbonne, Université Paris IV, 2000, no. 162, illustrated in colour p. 1290
La Part du jeu et du rêve, Oscar Domínguez et le surréalisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Cantini, Marseille, 2005, fig. 69, illustrated in colour p. 68
Clark V. Poling, André Masson and the Surrealist Self, New Haven & London, 2008, no. 54, illustrated in colour p. 85
Guite Masson, Martine Masson & Catherine Loewer, André Masson, catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1919-1941, Zurich, 2010, vol. II, no. 1935*5, illustrated in colour pp. 215-216 and on the back cover

Catalogue Note

Aube à Montserrat is a highly charged, dazzlingly coloured work which represents one of the seminal moments in Masson’s artistic career. It reintroduces one of his key themes from the early 1920s that explored the concept of totalisation, in which the individual is subsumed by the environment or a group of individuals amidst itself. It was painted in 1935 whilst the artist was living in Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava from where he travelled inland to Montserrat. The exuberant style of Aube à Montserrat marks the beginning of a group of works that dealt with consciously archaic or mythological subject matter which drew from his experiences on Montserrat in an extraordinarily rich and complex manner.

The present work was directly inspired by a critical, revelatory experience which took place in January 1935 on the Catalan mountain of Montserrat. Masson and his wife were caught by nightfall whilst attempting to climb the mountain. Trapped in darkness on the exposed mountainside they began to descend the treacherous slopes, slipping and sliding as they went. The artist became irrational and succumbed to the effect of vertigo. As he prepared to throw himself off a precipice the sky suddenly became illuminated by shooting stars. Masson described feeling as ‘double vertigo, the abyss and the sky’, which prompted a mental state that recalled the time he had been wounded during the war. The shooting stars seemed to transform into exploding shells and bursting flares which induced such terror in him that he was overcome by delirium, and clinging to the bushes he and his wife awaited the morning. When the dawn came the morning unfurled in the most beautiful colours and brought with it a rush of pure elation.

Clark V. Poling explains that this seminal event became part of a dialogue between Masson and his friend Georges Bataille, the philosopher and poet: ‘As the artist explained this event to Bataille, it culminated with his recovery in the church on the side of the mountain, after descending from the peak. There, he was “like a fetus”. The imminence of death and ecstatic rebirth – like an archaic initiation rite – was thus at the core of this shattering experience. Masson made two paintings summing up the event, which were illustrated the following year in the journal Minotaure, accompanying his poem celebrating the experience and a text by Bataille elaborating its themes. In Dawn at Montserrat [the present work], primitive monoliths like those of Easter Island, the central one perhaps representing the artist, witness from the mountaintop the explosion and celestial display. In the Landscape of Wonders [fig. 1], the artist is perched on the precipice between the sky and the depth of the earth, which exude vapors and ensconce a serpentine telluric monster. These works present his ecstatic and terrifying vision of the double abyss – the cavernous earth and the vastness of sky – in which the self is absorbed and lost’ (C. V. Poling, op. cit., 2008, pp. 84-85).