The Incomparable Artist
Renaissance Painter Paolo Uccello in Surrealist Discourse Around 1930
In the 1920s the quattrocento Italian painter Paolo Uccello was appropriated as a precursor of Surrealism in the French surrealist discourse, a process that continued and became international in the 1930s. The (positive) reception of Uccello among avant-gardes such as Surrealism was distinctly different from his contemporaneous (rather negative) reception among art historians. In several places the surrealist perception of the artist prefigures post-modern views, not least when it comes to Uccello’s playful and experimental attitude to perspective. The standard was set by the surrealist poet Philippe Soupault in 1929 in an art historical treatise inspired upon a surrealist worldview. Reviewing this and other written sources, this article also briefly discusses three examples of artistic responses to Uccellan aesthetics, by Salvador Dalí, George Hugnet and René Magritte.
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