The Art Institute of Chicago acquired two paintings by the late French-Mexican Surrealist Alice Rahon. Peau de soleil (1944) and Self-Portrait and Autobiography (1948) are representative of Rahon’s style, combining pared-down figuration and materials including sand, string, and pulverized volcanic rock. The works will enter the museum’s modern art collection, joining the ranks of a number of Rahon’s contemporaries including Joan Miró, Paul Klee, Yves Tanguy, and Pablo Picasso.
Rahon, who was born in France in 1904, first rose to prominence as a poet. While living in Paris during the 1920s, she became acquainted with a number of Surrealist artists, including Miró, Man Ray, André Breton, and Wolfgang Paalen, whom she married. Rahon turned to painting after meeting Frida Kahlo in Paris, who encouraged her to move to Mexico. After her arrival in Mexico City, Rahon met members of the local Surrealist scene, including Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. Under their influence, as well as that of Miró, Klee, and the ancient cave paintings at Altamira, Rahon began to create her symbol-heavy paintings, often incorporating found objects such as feathers and leaves into her textured, scraped-off canvases.