Biomorphism reflects the tendency to favor ambiguous and organic
shapes. Anatomy, plants, bodies of water, and astronomy inspire
paintings, reliefs, and sculptures. Jean (Hans) Arp, Henry
Moore, Yves Tanguy, and Raoul Ubac – each working in
a distinctive style in the realm between figuration and abstraction
– developed a language of “biomorphs.”
nature’s forms and reduced them to their abstract essence.
His biomorphic works capture and express the vital energy
of being, and liberate art from the constrictions imposed
by civilization. Yves Tanguy’s paintings fuse animal,
vegetable, and human figures with rock formations that hover
in vaporous landscapes. During and after World War II, Tanguy’s
landscapes became more deserted and war beaten, a convincing
psychological portrait of wartime Europe.
elevated magic and the transformational process of metamorphosis
and hybridization. Picasso’s use of metamorphosis influenced
Surrealism in the 1920s, and it appeared both as subject matter
and as procedure in the figurative paintings of Leonora Carrington
and in the more abstract, automatic works of André
attested to the power of the individual imagination to transcend
reality and reason in favor of the marvelous. American Indian
and Oceanic cultures and their myths provided models of uncensored
expression and images of human-plant metamorphosis. Drawing
on non-Western cultures, alchemy, and other occult phenomena,
Max Ernst felt that the artist must regain a mythic, spiritual
harmony with nature lost in Christianity, Western rationalism,
Brauner and Wilfredo Lam thrived on the occult and the mystical.
Brauner’s art reflects a fusion of wide-ranging world
cultures, mythologies, and religious beliefs. While focusing
primarily on figuration – whether human, animal, or
mythological – the works create an intricate lexicon
of symbolic forms.