Andre Masson was born in Oise, France in 1896. Shortly after his birth his parents moved to Brussels. Masson began drawing at a very young age and his parents sent him to college in 1914. He studied mural painting at Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
The Great war and Surrealism
Masson served in the trenches in the Great war and was confronted with the darker side of human nature and extreme violence. It was this experience that drove Masson to seek out his interest in the deeper processes in human behaviour and to join the Surrealists in 1924, after meeting Andre Breton. Some of his best paintings were produced during his time with the Surrealsit movement, but it is also the case that these are the product of inner tensions. He himself said: "Painful contradictions are sometimes the source of the greatest riches"
Masson artistic style was non- rational purpose art, chaotic and erotic. Masson wanted to get as near as possible with his art to direct thought transference. Miro and Masson produced 'automatic' drawings, which involved the free movement of the pen line without pre conditioning. To achieve the same effect in paint, Masson used lines of glue covered with coloured sand.
During the second world war Masson left for America and has profound influence on some of the artists there. In particular Arshile Gorky drew influence, as did Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Indeed, Pollock's Action painting bore resemblance to Masson's sand painting. Masson returned to Paris in 1945 and turned his hand to stage design as well as painting.
Masson died in 1987