Farewell to Surrealism: The Dyn Circle in Mexico

At the Getty Research Institute, Getty Center
October 2, 2012–February 17, 2013

In 1939, three artists, Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Rahon, and Eva Sulzer, left Paris to explore the indigenous ruins of the Pacific Northwest and pre-Columbian Mexico. They settled in Mexico City, becoming part of an international group of surrealist artists and writers exiled there during the 1940s.

Haunted by the Second World War, inspired by science, and seduced by archaeological discoveries, these artists defined a new direction for their art and played a crucial role in the transition from surrealism to abstract expressionism. They created a journal, Dyn, to demonstrate their differences with surrealist colleagues in New York and Paris. From 1942 to 1944, six issues of Dyn were published and distributed in New York, London, Paris, and Mexico City. The journal included the work of avant-garde writers, painters, and photographers, as well as scholarly contributions by anthropologists and archaeologists.

The painters and photographers who contributed to Dyn shared a fascination with the indigenous past of the Americas. Dyn’s painters merged imagery from physics, mathematics, geology, and archaeology with motifs from pre-Columbian and Pacific Northwest indigenous objects to create works of visual abstraction. Dyn’s photographers generated images that oscillate between anthropological document and antirealist image. In doing so, they extended the ethnographic impulse at the heart of the surrealist tradition.

Press Materials

          Farewell to Surrealism: The Dyn Circle in Mexico  (Press Release)

          Acquisition of Photographs by Eva Sulzer (Press Release)


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