André Breton, the French writer who founded the Surrealist movement in 1924, is widely known to have been a control freak. The so-called Surrealist Pope was happy to anoint and expel followers based on his autocratic judgment of their fealty to what he regarded as the movement's essential principles.
What isn't commonly considered is just how conservative Breton was -- odd for a champion of artistic experimentation. But that's one nugget found in "Farewell to Surrealism: The Dyn Circle in Mexico," a small but engaging gem of an exhibition in the gallery of the Getty Research Institute. The presentation focuses on the journal Dyn, published in Mexico City in six issues between 1942 and 1944, that challenged Surrealist orthodoxy.
Artists Wolfgang Paalen (Austrian, 1905-1959), Alice Rahon (French, 1904-1987) and Eva Sulzer (Swiss, 1902-1990) arrived in Mexico in 1939, determined to investigate historically grounded avenues outside of those that were dragging Europe into darkening chaos. For inspiration they spent a good deal of time exploring pre-Columbian ruins there and all the way up the Pacific coast to British Columbia.
They also explored each other: Paalen and Rahon were married, and Sulzer joined them in a ménage à trois.