Charles Howard January 2nd, 1899



Though he was born in the small town of Montclair, New Jersey, Howard’s life became one that knew no physical boundaries. On January 2nd, 1899, he became the third child of Mary Robertson Bradbury (1866-1931) and future architect of the UC Berkeley campus, John Galen Howard (1864-1931). In 1902, the family relocated to Berkeley, California, where Charles later attended both Berkeley High School and UC Berkeley. After majoring in journalism, he went on to pursue graduate work in English at both Harvard and Columbia universities. With thoughts of becoming a professor and novelist, he spent a post-graduation summer abroad; it was there that he met artist Grant Wood (1892-1946), the man responsible for urging Howard to abandon his literary career and take up painting. This, coupled with his self-proclaimed life-altering encounter with a Giorgione altarpiece encouraged him to move back to New York to pursue art in a professional capacity.

This change led him into the hands of Louis Bouche and Rudolph Guertler, who employed him for five years as a journeyman painter at their decorating firm. This was the extent of what may be considered his formal training. He lived in Greenwich Village, occupying his spare time by creating satirical literary sketches. These were the subject of his first one-man show at what would become the Whitney Museum.

His marriage to painter Madge Knight led to his move to England, where she could live in her native country and he could be more involved in the progressive Surrealist scene. Europe afforded him opportunities that America could not, and he took advantage of his close proximity to the artists in his academic circle. He was embraced quickly in London and exhibited there frequently. Unfortunately, the war coaxed them back to the U.S. in 1941, and they made their home near the family compound in the Bay Area. He taught frequently at the California School of Fine Arts, and later at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London. It wasn’t until 1970 that he decided to retire; he and his wife moved to Bagni di Lucca, Italy, where he died on November 11th, 1978.


Though the themes found in his paintings were recurring throughout the breadth of his career, Howard certainly achieved a dramatic evolution. Though always meticulous and precise, a hallmark of the painters in his family, it seems that his canvasses can barely contain the geometric shapes and the free curves that populate their surfaces. His imagery is a search for presumed realities beyond, as he works to suspend his forms somewhere between comprehension and irrationality.

As the 1940’s showed little promise for a moderate political climate, Howard’s style began a subtle change. He began to divide each of his paintings into three vertical sections, rather than work across one larger plane. What has been described as a light source, or a flame, emanates from behind his forms. His colors were slightly altered, his forms multiplied and the fundamental elements more complicated.

Howard was, perhaps because of his familial ties, lucky in finding representation for his work. His career was overseen by the likes of Peggy Guggenheim, Douglas MacAgy, and, the New York-based art dealer credited with first promoting American Surrealism. Charles, in fact, was one of only two other Americans to be featured in Levy’s momentous international Surrealist exhibition.

Toward the end of his career, however, his direction changed once again. He rid his style of what he considered to be clutter, constraining his palette to just a few colors and creating simpler, much more streamlined works.


Charles Houghton Howard’s Abstract-Surrealist label has often been questioned by those who closely examine his work. Though the themes with which he is primarily concerned- the ephemeral, the metaphysical, the cerebral- are in step with the branch of Surrealism he is commonly associated with, he seeks something of an equilibrium between this intangible world and that of traditional painting.

Although works by surrealists could be seen in America as early as the 1920’s, Julien Levy championed the movement by highlighting artists like Howard, Joseph Cornell and Man Ray, in conjunction with other European artists. Southern California, however, didn’t feel the first rumblings of the Surrealist movement until November of 1934, when a series of shows appeared, highlighting the giants like Dali, Ernst, Miro and Tanguy.

Howard’s role was of intermediary, between the Bay Area art community and that of the European painting in the early part of the century; a balance between careful reasoning and intuitive talent. His worldly experience, in accordance with his finely-tuned instincts, brought new elements of style and composition to both the U.S. and to the Abstract-Surrealist movement.


Bridget Riley Bridget Louise Riley was born on April 24, 1931 in London (UK). Bridget was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College; she studied art first at Goldsmiths College and later at the Royal College of Art, where her fellow students included artists Peter Blake and Frank Auerbach. She left college early to look after her ailing father, and suffered a mental breakdown shortly thereafter. After recovery, she worked in a number of jobs, including several as an art teacher, and briefly in the art department of the advertising company J. Walter Thompson.

In the late 1950s, Riley began to produce works in a style recognisably her own, a style inspired by a number of sources. A study of the pointillism of Georges Seurat, and subsequent landscapes produced in that style, led to her interest in optical effects. The paintings of Victor Vasarely, who had used designs of black and white lines since the 1930s also had a strong influence on Riley’s early works. In her later works, the influence of the futurists, especially Giacomo Balla, can also be observed.

It was during this time that Riley began to paint the black and white works for which she is best known today. They present a great variety of geometric forms that produce sensations of movement or colour. In the early 1960s, her works were said to induce sensations in viewers as varied as seasickness and sky diving. Works in this style comprised her first solo show in London in 1962 at Gallery One run by Victor Musgrave, as well as numerous subsequent shows. Visually, these works relate to many concerns of the period: a perceived need for audience participation (this relates them to the Happenings, for which the period is famous), challenges to the notion of the mind-body duality which led some people to experiment with hallucinogenic drugs (see Aldous Huxley’s writings); concerns with a tension between a scientific future which might be very beneficial or might lead to a nuclear war; and fears about the loss of genuine individual experience in a Brave New World.

Although remembered today mainly for the impressions of movement and colour they give through the exploitation of optical illusions, it is speculated that the impetus for Riley making these seemingly cold and calculated works was a failed love affair. One of the more famous works in this style is Fall (1963).

In 1965, Riley exhibited in the New York City show, The Responsive Eye, the exhibition which first drew attention to so-called Op art. One of her paintings was reproduced on the cover of the show’s catalogue, though Riley later became disillusioned with the movement, and expressed regret that her work was exploited for commercial purposes.

Following a major retrospective in the early 1970s, Riley began traveling extensively. After a trip to Egypt in the early 1980s, where she was inspired by colourful hieroglyphic decoration, Riley began to explore colour and contrast. In some works, lines of colour are used to created a shimmering effect, , while in other works, the canvas is filled with tessellating patterns. In 1986 Riley met the postmodern painters Philip Taaffe and Ross Bleckner, and was inspired to introduce a diagonal element to her work. Typical of these later colourful works is Shadowplay.

In many works since this period, Riley has employed others to paint the pieces, while she concentrates on the actual design of her work.

PAUL DELVAUX, Nude or not Nude


Paul Delvaux was born September 23, 1897 in Antheit (Belgium). Paul Delvaux’ father was a lawyer and his bourgeois upbringing made him destined to become an architect. Paul followed architecture courses at the Academy of Brussels, but at the same time followed painting courses from Contant Montald. Contant Montald had also been the teacher of other Belgian Surrealist René Magritte.


Paul Delvaux’ first group exhibition took place at “Le Silon” in 1924. At the “Forie du Midi” in Brussels in 1932 Paul Delvaux received the shock that would inspire his later painting style when visiting the Musée Spitzner. In 1934 the poet in Delvaux arose when he got to know the work of Giorgio de Chirico.

January 1, 1933 Delvaux’ mother died and the same year he destroyed over 100 of his earliest paintings. Although Delvaux is considered to be part of the Belgian surrealists, it was obvious that they both went separate ways, even though they exposes together at the Palais Royal des Beaux-Arts.

In 1937 his father died. In the same year he married Suzanne Purnal. The marriage turned out to be a disaster, but the emotional distress and loneliness gave Delvaux the necessary inspiration to make his best work ever.

During World War II, Paul Delvaux refused to expose. After the war, in 1947, Delvaux accidentally bumped into his first real love, Anne-Marie De Martelaere (nicknamed Tam), upon which he left his wife and married Tam on October 25, 1952.

In 1950, Paul Delvaux became professor at the “Ecole Nationale de la Cambre” in Brussels. In 1952 he created the fresco at the casino of Oostende. In 1955, Paul Delvaux received the Italian Reggio Emilia-award.


Paul Delvaux died at the ahe of 97 in Veurne (Belgium) on July 20, 1994.

Chelin Sanjuan

Chelin Sanjuan was born in Zaragoza, Spain in 1967. I just stumbled upon her webpage and although I am not a surrealist fan I found her art moving and captivating. I noticed she has a love of cats and paper boats. I would describe her work as surrealist. You can see that violin bows turn into twigs for birds to perch on, womens hair have all kinds of wildlife and fauna in it, and the opaque touch she gives to the paintings is amazing. This painter should definetely go down in history.


I really love the way this artist paints, it is so passionate and emotional that I sat in front of my screen just gazing for hours. It made me feel like getting up and rushing over to Spain to give her a big kiss. Well done Chelin you have won a place in my heart.


If you want to see more go to:

René Magritte

“René Magritte was no doubt disappointed that, aside from the small circle of his kindred spirits among the Surrealists, the world needed over a quarter of a century to discover that his work has both philosophical and poetic content which corresponds to certain social and intellectual trends, particularly of the second half of the twentieth century. Magritte’s work was not easy to approach at the outset, however. He is a difficult painter, and his simplicity is misleading. A world ever more disturbed and unstable – in labor, trade, and industry, as well as in intellectual and university circles – is a world in which reason remains indispensable. Yet the irrational no longer allows itself to be thrust aside, and today it is struggling to win recognition. As a result, there is now a greater possibility, especially among the younger generation, to arrive at a better and deeper understanding of Magritte’s art.

The Son of Man 

“His work makes a constant call on us to relinquish, at least temporarily, our usual expectations of art. Magritte never responds to our demands and expectations. He offers us something else instead. His friend Paul Nougé has expressed the problem better than anyone else; what he said in 1944 still holds good: “We question pictures,” he said, “before listening to them, we question them at random. And we are astonished when the reply we had expected is not forthcoming.”

La Magie Noire

“Magritte’s work allows one to conjure up a state of being which has become rare and precious – which makes it possible to observe in silence. Reading and reflection call for silence, listening no less. Silence can be used for waiting for an illumined vision of things, and it is to this vision that Magritte introduces us.

“The fascinating and challenging images in Magritte’s works stem from revelations of the mystery of the visible world. To him this world was a more than adequate source of lucid revelations, so that he did not need to draw on dreams, hallucinations, occult phenomena, cabalism. Nonetheless, preconsciousness – that is, the state before and during waking up – always played an important role in his work.

“In studying Magritte one begins to understand that attempting to solve puzzles must be avoided but the artist himself provides clues to his manner of painting and the mental process on which it is founded. Some are inclined to call this process “visual thinking. I prefer to give it no name. The term “visual thinking” is not subtle enough and involves too many misunderstandings regarding the possible subordination of the visual to thought, or vice versa. The misunderstanding caused by calling Magritte “cerebral” has also been demonstrated all too often, despite the unusually large quantity of literary, philosophical, and linguistic affinities Magritte’s work suggests, and which bring us closer to their meaning. Also the term “literary” is a misconception in his case, although it is understandable because of the literary origins of the leading figures in Surrealism. Let us refrain, then, from favoring one formula or the other and instead take a frank look to see with whom, and with what, Magritte and his marvelous cabinet of instruments can be compared.

Les Amants 

“The author who wishes to show complete respect for the struggle Magritte waged against faulty interpretations and explanations – and it was indeed a struggle – nevertheless finds he has to ignore Magritte’s own personal ban. Even Magritte himself attempted to explain why he wanted no explanations.

“His pronounced hostility to the idea of the symbol in relation to his work, his undisguised dislike of psychoanalysis in particular, and his distrust of any and every interpretation naturally had reasons. He was defending the very essence of his work by adopting this attitude. If, therefore, we try to understand something of the meaning of his resistance – and Magritte never forbade us to attempt that – we shall come closer to his work by this roundabout way.

“Seeing, says Magritte, is what matters. Seeing must suffice. But what kind of seeing must it be? Of what quality? A form of understanding is possible beyond the confines of any verbal explanation, which, if it is of any use at all, must be authenticated by a way of seeing. Unfortunately, for a large proportion of the public, seeing is not sufficient. People often see things hastily and think about them carelessly; they have been educated in disciplines and traditions in which words represent ideas and have a dominant function. This function has left the realm of revelation beyond words neglected and unexplored.

“Magritte, who was a painter and a painter tout court, albeit an unusual one, was nevertheless more aware than any of his contemporaries of words and of the dubious status they had acquired. His consciousness of words is evident in both his writings and paintings. Dealing with words was a dangerous game to play, though, for by playing it he introduced the element “Word” into his painted “images.” Thus, anyone seriously concerned with Magritte’s work cannot avoid taking a thorough account of what Magritte sought of words in his work and of the value he attached to them.

“The simplicity in his work is a suspect simplicity. In his writings – which include general articles, a few literary pieces, and special articles on specific themes – and in the titles he gave to his works, Magritte was methodical, as he was in his painting. The unexpected is never mere caprice. Moreover, it resides not so much in Magritte as in ourselves. We are not prepared for, and we do not instantly grasp, his technique of thinking and painting. It is not recalcitrance on his part but a natural need to react to the stereotype phenomena of everyday life in a way contrary to expectation; it is a need to correct. What is more, in Magritte’s work this became a discipline of feeling, thinking, and behaving which he discovered and evolved for himself. Accordingly, his method – others feel it was a discipline – is as valid a subject for our inquiry as the works themselves.

“Magritte attempted, as it were, to achieve a controlled resonance in his work. After he had finished a painting, it set up a resonance within him, in which he involved his closest friends. This resonance in the artist himself was necessarily different from that in us, who are the uninitiated in regard to his pictorial and verbal imagery. Yet, despite everything, Magritte probably attached more than usual importance to having people feel the right kind of resonance. That he could do anything about this himself was an illusion; the others were the critics, the art historians, the museums, the art dealers, the collectors, who play their own game with a variety of intentions.

“More often than not, Magritte chose ordinary things from which to construct his works – trees, chairs, tables, doors, windows, shoes, shelves, landscapes, people. He wanted to be understood via these ordinary things. Those who find him obscure should not forget that he had turned his back on the fantastic and on the immediate world of dreams. He did not seek to be obscure. On the contrary, he sought through a therapy of shock and surprise to liberate our conventional vision from its obscurity.

“…[L]et us therefore keep, so far as we can, to Magritte himself, to his own resonance, to his method. Even though his is a complex, sophisticated world in which we often lose sight of simplicity, we are able to find this simplicity again in the works themselves, a fact that can only increase our astonishment.”