Saturday, June 13, 2015

Eileen Agar, The New Planet

Eileen Agar, The New Planet, 1963

Eileen Agar (1899-1991) was a British artist who became a member of the Surrealist movement. Agar was born in Buenos Aires to a Scottish father and an American mother.  The family moved to London in 1911.  After formal schooling, she began studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, before traveling to Paris to study further.  One of her earliest works is her 1927self-portrait, which shows the distinct influence of Post-Impressionism.  However, she soon began experimenting with Surrealism, having become friends with Surrealists André Breton and Paul Éluard.  She soon exhibited with the Surrealists as a member of the group.  One of Agar's most complex works is Autobiography of an Embryo (1933-34), which combines Surrealism with folk art imagery to create a composition reminiscent of a Classical wall painting full of modern symbolism. Agar also explored Cubism, was a prolific photographer, a collagist/sculptor, and even experimented with multimedia pieces.  The New Planet is from Agar's later period, when she retained Surrealist elements, but created work full of intricate shapes with a more visceral symbolism.  In The New Planet we feel some truth in the title; the colorful and geometric sphere is certainly something new while another one seems to be coming into existence.  However, that doesn't entirely cover it.  What Agar offers is a new way to look at our own planet, thereby creating a new planet.  There is great weight and intensity to these shapes and colors.  They appear like windows onto another world beyond the green field, and beyond our own perception.

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