Lot 59
  • 59

Oscar Domínguez

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Oscar Domínguez
  • Paisaje cósmico (Cosmic Landscape)
  • signed O. Dominguez and dated 41 (lower left)
  • oil on panel
  • 15.8 by 22cm.
  • 6 1/4 by 8 5/8 in.


Leonora Carrington, Mexico City (acquired from the artist)

Private Collection (a gift from the above circa 2000)

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007

Catalogue Note

A scene of strange otherworldly forms and mesmerising waves of colour, Paisaje cósmico is a vivid example of Domínguez's cosmic landscapes – visionary worlds in which tangible points of reference are lost to view. Such visions were a recurring theme of Surrealist painting but in Domínguez's work of the late 1930s they took on a new significance as a crucial part of his contribution to the development of visual automatism.   

Fellow surrealist painter Marcel Jean described how Domínguez used to invite friends to his studio on the Boulevard du Montparnasse and then continued to paint whilst engaging in conversation with them, allowing the colours to flow from his brush without the conscious effort of mixing them on the palette. Jean described the accidental nature of this development: 'at heart because it was less tiring for him to stop raising his brush, Domínguez one day achieved, almost on the level of a reflex, new subconscious images. Taking to its furthest extreme the idea of 'pintura deslizante' and of the form mechanically created through the play of the brush through the colour, he succeeded in revealing an aspect of the psyche uncontrolled by the conscious mind. Without really aspiring to reach a state of inspiration, he could separate to some extent his conscious actions from his creative faculty; it was as though the two states co-existed without interference' (M. Jean quoted in Oscar Domínguez (exhibition catalogue), Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas, 1996, pp. 23-24, translated from Spanish).

The cosmic element of these works was alluded to by André Breton as early as 1939 in his seminal text 'Des tendances les plus récentes de la peinture surréaliste'. Breton described Domínguez as the painter who could, 'with a movement of the arm as unstudied and quick as that of a window cleaner or the worker who, with the house finished, signs his name in blanc d'Espagne, use his brush to add diverse colours, stroke by stroke, and succeed in defining new spaces – barely marked or hinted at – that transport us into those realms of pure fascination that have remained unvisited since, as children, we contemplated colour images of meteors in books' (A. Breton quoted in La Part du jeu et du rêve. Oscar Domínguez et le surréalisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Cantini, Marseille, 2005, p. 199, translated from French).

The first owner of this painting was the artist and writer Leonora Carrington, who met Max Ernst in 1936 at the International Surrealist Exhibition in London. She returned to Paris with him and quickly became a part of Surrealist circles where she would have met Domínguez. She relocated to Mexico following a nervous breakdown and there became part of a new nexus of Surrealist artists, continuing to work to quiet acclaim until her death in 2011. She acquired Paisaje Cósmico directly from Domínguez and it remained in her collection until circa 2000.