During the pivotal decades leading up to World War II and throughout the war, important Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, André Masson, Joan Miró, Wolfgang Paalen, and Yves Tanguy--some of whom had served as soldiers in World War I--responded through their works to the repression and violence attending the rise of Hitler and the spread of Fascism in Europe. In this engrossing volume, essays by experts in the field and more than 130 color images showcase the experimental and international extent of Surrealist art during these years. Three of the book's featured artists, Dalí, Miró, and Pablo Picasso, were from Spain, where tensions between right and left after the formation of the republic in 1931 led, five years later, to full-blown civil war. The victory of General Francisco Franco's Nationalist forces over the Republicans in April 1939 was a blow to anti-Fascist hopes throughout the West. Picasso's 'Guernica', painted in repsonse to the bombing of a Basque village in April 1937, was exhibited in Paris at the Exposition Internatinoale and made a strong case for the relevance of visual art in political discourse. With the onset of World War II in September 1939, brutal hostilities engulfed the whole continent and then the world. Unlike Picasso, who remained in Paris throughout the war, many artists became refugees, and some fled to safety in the Americas. Depsite (or because of) the political and personal turmoil, this was a period of surprising brilliance and fertility: avant-garde artists on both sides of the Atlantic pushed themselves to engage artistically with the psychological forces propelling contemporary history. Tapping into classical mythology, folklore, and witchcraft iconography, artists found ways to communicate their feelings and fears in this 'time of distress,' implementing a wide spectrum of new techniques. In the 1930s and 1940s, monstrosities in the real world bred monsters on canvas, in sculpture, on film, and in the pages of journals and artists' books. 'Monsters & Myths' brings together the most vivid and potent of these creations, showing us war through the eyes of some of the twentieth century's most celebrated artists.
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