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Pays interdit

Pays interdit
signed with initials 'WP' (lower centre); signed again with initials and dated 'WP 36-37' (on the reverse)
oil and fumage on canvas
36 1/4 x 23 3/8 in. (92 x 59.2 cm.)
Painted in 1936-1937
Gordon Onslow Ford, Inverness, by whom acquired directly from the artist in 1940, and thence by descent.
Private collection, Berlin, by whom acquired from the above in 2008.
I. Rodríguez Prampolini, El Surrealismo y el Arte Fantástico de México, Mexico, 1969, no. 44, p. 124 (first state illustrated pl. 44; dated '1936').
A. Neufert, Wolfgang Paalen. Im Inneren des Wals – Monografie/Schriften/Oevrekatalog, Wien, 1999, p. 291 (first state illustrated).
T. Arcq, G.M.M. Colvile, A. Neufert, L. Jarbouai & N. Deffebach, Una surrealista en México: Alice Rahon, exh. cat. Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, 2009, p. 99 (illustrated).
D. Ades, R. Eder & G. Speranza, 'Wolfgang Paalen: The Totem as Sphinx', in Surrealism in Latin America, Vivísimo Muerto, Los Angels, 2012, no. 6, pp. 122-123 (illustrated p. 123).
J. Barnitz & P. Frank, Twentieth Century Art of Latin America, Austin, 2015, no. 4.14, pp. IX & 127 (illustrated p. 127).
D. Morris, The Lives of the Surrealists, London, 2018, p. 210 (illustrated).
A. Dempsey, Art Essentials: Surrealism, London, 2019, p. 89 (illustrated p. 88).
M. Richardson, ed., The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism, vol. III, Surrealists M-Z, London, 2019, p. 155 (illustrated).
N. Schedlmayer, 'Mann der vielen Möglichkeiten', in Belvedere Kunstmagazin No. 2, Vienna, 2019, no. 5, p. 11 (illustrated).
R. Bertra, ed., Wolfgang Paalen, Der Axolotl / El Axolotle, Mexico, 2019 (illustrated on the cover).
A. Neufert, Paalen: Life and Work, vol. I., Forbidden Land: The Early and Crucial Years, 1905 - 1939, Berlin, 2022, pp. 248-254 (illustrated p. 250 & the first state illustrated p. 251; illustrated again on the cover).
New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Surrealist Paintings by Wolfgang Paalen, April 1940, no. 3 (titled 'L'upyre').
Vienna, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt, Moderne auf der Flucht, Österreichische KünstlerInnen in Frankreich 1938-1945, June - September 2008, no. 75, p. 104 (illustrated p. 105).
Ludwigshafen, Wilhelm Hack Museum, Gegen jede Vernunft: Surrealismus Paris - Prag, November 2009 - February 2010, no. 83, pp. 144 & 353 (illustrated p. 144).
San Francisco, Frey Norris Gallery, Exultation: Sex, Death and Madness in Eight Surrealist Masterworks, 2011.
Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery, The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art, May - September 2011, pp. 234 & 328 (illustrated p. 234).
Herford, MARTa Herford, Asche und Gold: Eine Weltenreise, January - April 2012, pp. 58 & 218 (illustrated p. 58); this exhibition later travelled to Bedburg-Hau, Museum Schloss Moyland, May - August 2012.
Frankfurt, Städel Museum, Schwarze Romantik, Von Goya bis Max Ernst, September 2012 - January 2013, no. 183, pp. 252 & 300 (illustrated p. 252); this exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée d'Orsay, March - June 2013, no. 174, pp. 266 & 295 (illustrated p. 266).
Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof, Hello World: Revision einer Sammlung, April - August 2018, p. 407 (illustrated pp. 27 & 28 in situ).
Vienna, Unteres Belvedere, Der Österreichische Surrealist in Paris und Mexiko: Wolfgang Paalen, October 2019 - January 2020, p. 111 (illustrated).
London, Camden Art Centre, The Botanical Mind, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree, September - December 2020.
Bad Frankenhausen, Panorama Museum, Surrealismus in Deutschland: Kunst von 1919 bis 1949, July - October 2021, no. 104, pp. 117 & 339 (illustrated p. 117).
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
This painting has been requested for the forthcoming Forbidden Territories: 100 Years of Surreal Landscapes exhibition to be held at The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, November 2024 – April 2025.


Ottavia Marchitelli
Ottavia Marchitelli Senior Specialist, Head of The Art of The Surreal Sale


Following a trip to Greece in 1936, Wolfgang Paalen began Pays interdit, or L’upyre as it was originally titled, a canvas which would occupy him until well into the following year. When it was completed, Paalen revealed an apocalyptic world, set beneath an aurora borealis-like sky from which iridescent orbs descend. A single figure perches atop the craggy expanse, a nod to Delphic oracles and fairy-tale chimera. As Marcel Duchamp noted, ‘[Paalen] paints scenes 'for' a sorcerer (you never see the witches)’ (M. Duchamp to J. Levy, Julien Levy Gallery Records, January/March 1939, University of Pennsylvania).
Pays interdit marks a critical moment in the young artist’s aesthetic development. In 1935, Paalen, then just twenty, met André Breton, one of the founders of the Surrealist movement. Breton quickly took to Paalen – of whose work he said, ‘All great artists invent a new world: but these new worlds reveal the original experiences of the human race’ – and invited him to participate in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London (H. Read, ‘Wolfgang Paalen’, in Minotaure, Paris, May 1939, No. 12-13, p. 90). There, Paalen debuted his first fumage, a technique he devised in which smoke from a candle is used to create patterns across the surface of the canvas or a sheet of paper; it was inspired by the Surrealists’ use of psychic automatism and Pays interdit is one of the earliest examples in which Paalen incorporated fumage into his painting practice. By 1937, when the work was finished, Paalen had had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Pierre in Paris and was thoroughly integrated into the Surrealist movement.

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