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Leaf, Feather, Drop of Blood (Feuille, Plumes et Goutte de Sang)

André Masson played an important role in the development of Surrealism in France. This work, with its biomorphic shapes and calligraphic lines, reflects the fashion for “automatic” (i.e., spontaneous or involuntary) drawing among the Surrealists, while the incorporation of a real feather into the composition alludes to the popularity of collage among the early twentieth-century avant-garde. World War I also had a decisive impact on Masson’s work, as he was seriously injured in 1917 during the Second Battle of the Aisne on the Western Front, a battle which resulted in 271, 000 French casualties. After the war, the specter of violence is a consistent presence in his work, represented in this piece by the drop of blood in the lower center.

André Masson
French, 1896‒1987
Leaf, Feather, Drop of Blood (Feuille, Plumes et Goutte de Sang)
1927
Oil and feather on canvas
25 5/8 x 31 5/16 in. (65.1 x 81.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. G. David Thompson, 62.141