35
35

PROPERTY FROM A FRENCH PRIVATE COLLECTION

Óscar Domínguez
LES SIPHONS SURRÉALISTES
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,300,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
35

PROPERTY FROM A FRENCH PRIVATE COLLECTION

Óscar Domínguez
LES SIPHONS SURRÉALISTES
Estimate
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,300,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York

Óscar Domínguez
1906-1957
LES SIPHONS SURRÉALISTES
Signed Oscar Dominguez and dated 37 (toward lower right)
Oil on canvas
39 1/2 by 29 in.
100.3 by 73.5 cm
Painted in 1937. 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Commission of Experts and Defense to Óscar Domínguez.

Provenance

Galería Paco Rebes, Barcelona 

Galerie Seroussi, Paris (acquired from the above in the 1990s)

Private Collection (acquired from the above)

Acquired from the above circa 2003

Exhibited

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno & Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Centro de Arte "La Granja", Óscar Domínguez Antologica 1926-1957, 1996, no. 46, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Marseille, Musée Cantini, Óscar Domínguez et le surréalisme, 2005

Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Dalí, Magritte, Miró - Surrealismus in Paris, 2011-12

Literature

La Part du Jeu et du Rêve: Óscar Domínguez et le Surrealisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Musée Cantini de Marseille, Marseille, 2005, illustrated in color p. 32

Rodolfo de Sosa, Óscar Domínguez, L'Oeuvre peint, Catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Paris, 1989, no. 32, illustrated p. 57

Catalogue Note

In 1937, Óscar Domínguez entered a momentous transitional period in his art. The Spanish artist had relocated from the Canary Islands to Paris in 1932, determined to become a serious avant-garde painter. Although he had already organized 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” without an official endorsement from the group, he formally achieved their recognition in 1934 after an encounter with André Breton at the Café de la Place Blanche. He began attending the group’s meetings, befriending such artists as Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst, who would have a profound influence on his art. He developed new techniques and strategies which would be advanced by fellow artists, most notably his decalomania technique which involved pressing a sheet of paper or glass spread thinly with gouache or another material onto another surface such as canvas, then working around the resulting impressions. Introduced to the Surrealists by Domínguez in 1936, this technique would have a lasting effect on Surrealist formal practice and would particularly influence Max Ernst, who began integrating decalomania into some of his most recognized works (see fig. 1).

Domínguez’s work from this period shares its magical, dreamlike aesthetic with other Surrealist painters. Works by these artists typically feature small, exquisitely rendered motifs against a desolate terrain whose horizon line has been blurred against the receding sky, commonly observed in works by Yves Tanguy (see fig. 2). Les Siphons surréalistes diverges from this compositional structure in its presence of a central focal point, a horse hovering in the center of the canvas seemingly tethered to a siphon. Rather than having the motifs randomly dispersed throughout the canvas, the elements of Les Siphons surréalistes follow an upwards projection: the mountain in the center of the canvas transforms into a bull, whose horns pierce the horse’s abdomen and propel the creature towards the sky, mirroring both the upward flow of water projected from the siphons as well as the meteor-like objects floating past the frame of the canvas. 

The violent interaction destabilizes the otherwise organic flow of motion in the picture and underscores the political associations of the Spanish corridas. The horse, blindfolded as in the early moments of a corrida, is both physically and psychologically unprotected—it is blinded to the origin of this forceful violence and psychologically unprepared as well as grotesquely injured, its internal organs now fatally exposed. This cultural reference was employed by many of Domínguez’s contemporaries, such as André Masson, to symbolize the conflict and confusion in the Iberian peninsula during the Spanish Civil War (see fig. 3). This moving combination of vulnerability, violence and tragedy is present in another momentous canvas completed in the same year—Picasso’s Guernica (see fig. 4). Indeed, José Pierre has declared Les Siphons surréalistes “Domínguez’s Guernica” as both works illustrate a metaphoric duel between bull and horse (Óscar Domínguez Antológica 1926-1957 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 20). The blindfold is also an ominous foreshadowing for a fateful event in Domínguez’s life; in 1938, he accidentally blinded his friend Victor Brauner in one eye during a drunken brawl. The paradigmatic symbolism of the blindfold, blocking out the senses and therefore the exterior world, was favored by the Surrealists as it would allow one to more deeply focus on the inner workings of the psyche. Yet in Domínguez’s canvas it also imbues the composition with an eerie sense of fear and turbulence, exacerbated by the violent blow of the bull’s horns. 

The present work’s landscape is yet another element Domínguez uses to evoke memories of home and channel those childhood associations so treasured by the Surrealists. Hailing from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Domínguez would often spend time in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, whose volcanic cliffs and expansive ocean are clearly present in the rocky, vast terrain of the present work, an early example of the cosmic landscapes that were to dominate the artist’s oeuvre in the following half-decade (see fig. 5). Domínguez here charts a landscape of insularity and isolation, contributing to the sense of poetic vulnerability set forth by the blindfolded horse. Siphons pierce this landscape like daunting sentinels, projecting both water and meteoric rocks and simultaneously tethering the horse to the center of the canvas. A common motif in Dominguez’s work, as well as in other masterpieces by artists including Fernand Léger, water and siphons figure prominently in canvases similar to the present work as well as in the artist’s object assemblages, such as the one exhibited at l’Exposition internationale du surréalisme in 1938 (see figs. 6 & 7). 

While Domínguez had followed Surrealist theories in his early works of the 1930’s, toward the end of the decade he began transitioning towards a more concentrated practice of automatic painting when attempting revelations of the subconscious. In its dark, volcanic landscape and myriad motifs, Les Siphons surréalistes is a precursor to the artist’s période cosmique of the late 1930s, a time alluded to by Breton 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 transport us into those realms of pure fascination that have remained unvisited since, as children, we contemplated color images of meteors in books” (Breton quoted in La Part du Jeu et du Rêve: Oscar Domínguez et le Surréalisme 1906-1957 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 199). 

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

|
New York