Sie sind auf Seite 1von 8

A Pre-Bretonian Advocacy of Automatism in Art: Spare and Carter's "Automatic Drawing"

(1916)
Author(s): Joseph Masheck, Austin O. Spare and Frederick Carter
Source: RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 38 (Autumn, 2000), pp. 179-185
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Peabody Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20167514
Accessed: 07-04-2018 00:43 UTC

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide
range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and
facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at
http://about.jstor.org/terms

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, The University of Chicago Press are
collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to RES: Anthropology and
Aesthetics

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
Documents and discussions

A Pre-Bretonian advocacy of automatism in art: Spare and


Carter's 'Automatic Drawing" (1916)
JOSEPH MASHECK
For T. N. and). R.

All that one needs to be reminded that just happening "Automatic Drawing" was rejected in 1976: "The work
to occur is par for the course in surrealism is to have and theory of Spare and Carter seem to come from
something merveilleux fall right into one's lap. This is Blake and the tradition of English spiritualism which
exactly how I felt (though this was hardly my first such often ran parallel to the cultural wellsprings of the
visitation) when in a favorite secondhand bookstore a Surrealists but whose lines of intersection were mostly
few years ago, I had to look twice at the title and date of confined to the contributions of German Romanticism."2
an essay advocating nothing less than "automatic Now, first, let it not be overlooked in an effort to
drawing" rather amazingly early: as a matter of fact, in normalize the given attribution that Spare and Carter's
the spring of 1916, three years before Andr? Breton and very graphic unity of typeset print and calligraphic
Philippe Soupault's production of the first automatically drawings images is, on an admittedly more modest
written book, Les Champs magn?tiques (initially scale, akin, not only to all sorts of "exquisite corpse"
serialized in Litt?rature in 1919) and eight years before procedures as essentially collaborative but even to Les
Breton's influential discussion of autosuggestion in the Champs magn?tiques itself, in the engendering of which
"First Manifesto" of surrealism (1924). Breton and Soupault were inspired by Pierre Janet's
I am referring, by way of introduction, to "Automatic clinical L'Automatisme psychologique (1889), from
Drawing," an essay with graphically integrated drawings which in fact their surrealist term "automatic writing"
in the first number of a short-lived English journal titled derives. When the British essay appeared, Breton and his
Form: A Quarterly of the Arts, distributed by John Lane "automatic" collaborator-to-be were both still occupied
in New York as well as in London; the article itself was with soldiering during World War I, as was Masson,
written by Austin Osman Spare (1888-1956) and who, indeed, had a very hard time surviving through the
Frederick Carter (1885-1967).1 Appropriately enough, I year 1916. But it should not be forgotten, either, that
cannot exactly claim to be quite the first discoverer of part of what was just then begetting Dada out of the
this stil I-startling early piece of automatist advocacy in wits-end incongruities of La grande Illusion was the very
art, in which?to invoke the great exemplar?Andr? carrying on, side by side with the horror, of civilities of
Masson's ropily spontaneous linear drawing style of the an utterly "aesthetical," high cultural sort. Even from
1920s is uncannily anticipated in illustrations or across the Channel, British officers' subscriptions to The
illuminations, even as the text adumbrates Bretonian Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (as it used to be
theory. A generation ago, it was entertained just fully styled) were never interrupted at the front.3
sufficiently for dismissal, presumably as threatening a The ephemeral quasi-avant-garde quarterly in which
then still dreadedly untheorized influence, in an inquiry this advocacy of "automatic drawing" appeared declared
into Masson's "origins and development" as an artist. itself a "magazine containing poetry, sketches, essays of
Thus with the following anxiously blurred, literary and critical interest, together with original prints
pseudohistorical diagnosis bursting its syntactical blood and woodcuts, lithographs, calligraphic decorations and
vessels, Austin O. Spare and Frederick Carter's initial letters."This first number presents itself with an

1. Austin O. Spare and Frederick Carter, "Automatic Drawing," 2. Carolyn Lanchner, "Andr? Masson: Origins and Development,"
Form: A Quarterly of the Arts (London and New York), 1/1 (April in Andr? Masson, William Rubin and Carolyn Lanchner (New York:
1916):27-30. A Kraus Reprint edition (New York, 1971) of presumably Museum of Modern Art, 1976), 79-206, with fig. 12 on p. 208.
all of the intermittent run comprises vol. 1 (April 1916?April 1917) 3. Raul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (1975; reprint,
and n. s. vol. 1 (October 1921-January 1922). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 67.

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
180 RES 38 AUTUMN 2000

all-too-artily taste-crafted, quasi-Edwardian indulgence symboliste manner (a combination female nude-cum


in lavish printing and presentation on behalf of mostly worldtree in crucifixion posture with serpent-twined
embarrassingly deficient poetry. Except, that is, for arms and burning hair, rising from a writhing mass of
William Butler Yeats, who might have been welcomed nudes), and then Spare's Bacchae, a suspiciously
for the debut issue by virtue of social cachet yet who, normal-looking academic female nude. And yet both
himself involved with the occult, was soon to wed a these practicing artists also maintained literary identities:
known practitioner of automatic writing of the "mystic" Spare edited The Golden Hind as well as Form; Carter
sort. And let us face the fact, without condoning bald wrote both The Dragon of the Alchemists (1926) and, as
superstition (as if that were the basis of today's a friend of the novelist, D. H. Lawrence and the Body
hostility!), that just such turn-of-the century Mystical (1932).
"spiritualism," which made even William James take The artistic results yielded by Spare and Carter's
notice, was apparently just where Spare and Carter's experimentations are to be seen in some half dozen
automatic drawing as well as Mrs. Yeats's automatic drawings illustrating "Automatic Drawing." Most have a
writing were, broadly speaking, coming from. The result definite spontaneous character of one shaping thought,
however, which (Breton would have been relieved to as it were, melting suggestively into another (while one
know) has nothing much to do with spirit except as is merely a conventional piece of fin-de-si?cle book
possible warrant for a perhaps fearful irrationality, is if illustration). It is not possible to say if any were
anything literary beyond a point of affectation?even collaborations between Spare and Carter, in the manner
curiously so, for a certain piquant weirdness. of the surrealist "exquisite corpse" drawings, with one
No doubt owing to the primacy of literary culture, person extending a line already entailed in an enfolded
especially in the English-speaking orbit, it tends to go image of he-knows-not-what. Two of the drawings,
without saying that the more "literally literary" poetic of including the one shown here, bear the single "AOS"
the automatic or the spontaneously engendered verbal monogram of Spare (where a scribbled signature on two
text has priority, and that any equivalent "visual-art" others plausibly identifies Carter alone). Interestingly, in
poetic should simply follow suit. Here however, in a both of the monogrammed cases, and not in two other
precocious case of automatic drawing (not automatic drawings otherwise stylistically similar, the image proper
writing), announced precisely as such, were the is accompanied by a no doubt willfully mysterious,
practitioners Spare, a painter, printmaker, and illustrator deliberately enigmatic, quasi-textual inscription in what
(he supplied Beardsleyesque illustrations as well as are surely pseudo-hieroglyphic characters beneath.
initials and decorative "ignudi," like the less automatic Insofar as these would-be characters evoke ancient
images at hand, for Ethel Rolt Wheeler's volume of writing, hieratic or demotic, I would suggest that this is
poetry The Veil, 1906) and Carter, also known as a so just because they are not so top-of-the head
printmaker and illustrator. As a matter of fact, this Spare "automatic" and probably derive from some established
(who as "a young Apollo" was rumored to be taking occult source.5 The surmise seems reasonable (provided
drugs and dabbling in the occult as a student at the the characters are not merely an intellectual joke) in
Royal College of Art around 1910) is said to have view of the prominence occultism did have in turn-of
already shown in his first solo exhibition, in 1914, so the-century culture, alongside its rationalist equivalent,
called "psychic" drawings?that is, "a kind of linear the scientific interest in subconsciousness and
automatism which he later called 'automatic' suggestion. Rather than pursue either affair, however, I
drawings."4 Appended to their article is a non-automatic would prefer to call attention to that more specifically
drawing by each artist, as if for comparison (if not more literary aspect of Spare and Carter's situation, which
squarely as credentials of less radical competence): first tends, I think, to be underexploited?owing perhaps to a
Carter's self-consciously outrageous Imagination in the justifiable suspicion on the part of modernists in the fine

4. "In View: Spare a Thought," Art and Artists 221 (February 5. Such as the neoplatonically influenced Cornelius Agrippa's
1985):5, telling that after a fashionable phase he came to be "decried "alchemical alphabet" (in De Occulta philosophia, 1529); cf. Johanna
as a degenerate," "seedy" at that, though in his last ten years he at last Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and
attained some second recognition. Imagination (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), p. 191 (with illus.).

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
Masheck: A Pre-Bretonian advocacy of automatism in art 181

arts toward whatever in the way of representational appeal. It was at about this time that Ezra Pound, on
content might be critically questionable as "literary." return from America after meeting the widow of Ernest
Simply to state the matter thusly will also point up the Fenollosa in London, was editing, among other
possible special appeal of "hieroglyphic" characters, Fenollosa manuscripts, the important imagist essay "The
such as at least Spare here indulged. Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry," first
But there is the literary, and there is the literary. It published in Pound's Investigations (1920) after several
deserves to be recalled that while surrealism was a refusals by journals.7 In the imagist light, Spare and
basically French and literary-affiliated movement of Carter's automatic drawing project does indeed hold
major importance to painting, in England there was also special literary as well as artistic interest (one rightly
an essentially visually attuned literary "imagism" (in its hesitates to say "pictorial"), not simply generally as
own right stimulated by symbolisme). Apropos of the ?criture but in timely terms of the development within
compacted intensification of "concrete" terms in imagist literature of an explicitly "imagist" poetic.8
writing, a significant detail in "Automatic Drawing" is Beyond the special "imagism" of the Anglo-American
the nonverbal scribble serving as a marginal literary avant-garde, there was also the older British
illumination to the word "Sigil." Starred with an asterisk adumbration of automatic drawing in the recourse to
in the text and likewise in the margin, like a discursive chance-formed "blots" as starting points for generating
textual gloss, is this roughly calligraphic inky hypothetical landscape drawings according to the
nonrepresentational linear drawing, which, however pre-romantic "method" of Alexander Cozens (circa
lively and spontaneous looking, is actually no 1785),9 whose rediscovery in the 1950s was a little like
spontaneous scribble but, apparently, a little image cut finding an adumbration of Dr. Rorschach's
in real time, as it were, without reproductive mediation, Psychodiagnostics (1921 ) in the England of Sir Joshua
as a notably nonobjective woodcut. Reynolds. Then too, in the literary sphere, both Horace
Especially as a point is made of this as a "sigil," from Walpole and, as Breton was aware, Carlyle, had already
sigillum (Lat., "seal") as condensed diminution of approximated to surrealist automatic writing.10 Even
signum, "sign," this has a special imagist interest?like invoking Blake, however, will not explain an irruption in
the refreshed historiographie appeal of Renaissance and
baroque emblemata in the time of the fluorescence of a
modernist abstract painting of immediate and holistic,
and sometimes also seemingly arcane, signification, 7. Lawrence W. Chisolm, Fenollosa: The Far East and American
though here even more condensed than emblemata. The Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963), p. 223. Fenollosa's
aesthetics touched several generations of young people in America
emblemata were part and parcel with the Renaissance
and beyond as part of a populistic postimpressionist modernism
neoplatonic fascination with the very idea of the ancient broadcast in the field of art education by Arthur Wesley Dow in his
Egyptian hieroglyphics?and the rather abstractly influential Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the
iconographical question, which would arise after World Use of Students and Teachers (1899); see my introduction, "Dow's
War II, of whether such were (negatively) all too vWay' to Modernity for Everybody," to the new edition of Composition
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 1-61.
inscrutable except to the initiated, or else (affirmatively)
8. On British literary imagism in relation to surrealism, see Joseph
wonderfully self-evident to view, at least to those in the Masheck, "Magritte in an Imagist Light" (1974), in Historical Present:
know.6 The pictogram as well as the hieroglyph thus Essays of the 1970s (Ann Arbor: U. M. I. Research Press, 1984), pp.
held an especially visually qualified form of "literary" 33-45. Something that I would like to develop on a more appropriate
occasion is how imagism may relate to the analytical emphasis on
the "logical content" of statements in then-contemporary Anglo
American philosophy.
9. Alexander Cozens, A New Method of Assisting the Invention in
6. In "Plastic Art and General Culture," Art Criticism 1 (1981 ):11-19, Drawing Original Compositions of Landscape (London, n. d.),
reprinted in Joseph Masheck, Historical Present: Essays of the 1970s reprinted in A. P. Opp?, Alexander and John Roben Cozens (London:
(Ann Arbor: U. M. I. Research Press, 1984), pp. 281-288, I have Black, 1952; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954).
situated as contemporaneous with abstract expressionism the then Thanks to Dario Gamboni for reminding me of Cozens, as well as for
heated argument involving E. H. Gombrich and Edgar Wind, over other helpful comments.
Ficino's glossing Plotinus on the Egyptian hieroglyph?specifically, 10. Mark Polizzotti, Revolution of the Mind: The Life of Andr?
whether the hieroglyph conceals meaning or reveals it (pp. 283-284, Breton (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995), p. 104. Thanks to
with refs.). Barbara Lekatsas for a reference.

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
182 RES 38 AUTUMN 2000

the maiden issue of a periodical, which, if anything, In Surrealism and Painting (1927), Breton would
looks unpleasantly upper-crust, of a seeming paean to maintain that as much as a bird's nest under instinctual
anarchic irrationality in art production. (In surrealist construction, or as a musical melody unfolding
circumstances of automatic or spontaneous engendering, according to intrinsic structural necessity, does
a present-day jargon of artistic "production" begins to automatism access the pleasure principle as if
seem amusingly clinical, as somehow commonsensically untrammeled: "I maintain that graphic as well as verbal
irrational as the way excitements can manifest themselves automatism ... is the only mode of expression which
in the condition of the mucus membrane by quite other fully satisfies the eye or ear by achieving rhythmic unity
than-logical necessity.) (just as recognizable in the automatic drawing and text
It does seem curious how much latitude was here so as in the melody or the nest). . . . And I agree that
happily offered, in Britain in 1916, and in classy automatism can enter into composition, in painting as in
letterpress at that, to the seemingly anarchic or poetry, with certain premeditated intentions; but there is
irrational. In this regard, I wish to call attention to a great risk if the automatism ceases to flow underground'
certain psycho-cultural observation of special pertinence (emphases in original).12 There remains the more purely
to the condition of surrealism in England, before critical fact that, for all their manifest originality in the
proceeding to Spare and Carter's "Automatic Drawing," sense of blunt priority, and quite apart from the question
which anticipates even Breton's abiding emphasis on of influence, however reformed, the Spare and Carter
automatism as liberating. "source" drawings actually do seem forced and even
In respect to the insular appeal of surrealism, there is fatally self-conscious in the sense warned against by
a remarkable theory framed by a British assistant of Carl Breton, whereas drawings to come soon after from the
Jung. Wondering why Jung's work should quickly have hand and brain of Andr? Masson, though interestingly
found wide reading, though little public discussion, in "retroactively" adumbrated by these, are among the
England, where the national character has such a strong finest drawings of the twentieth century.13
component of aristocratic introversion, H. G. Baynes The wartime displacement to New York of Breton and
proposed that the very notion of "accepting and Masson, in 1941, but also of others as different in
reinstating unconscious functions and elements that outlook as Piet Mondrian (already in 1940), served
have been suppressed by an exclusively social famously to stimulate the consolidation of "New York
adaptation" was "seen as a new extension of the School" abstract expressionist painting, in the formation
principle of fair-play," while "Jung's integration of living of which surrealist automatism was vital?not that
concepts from undirected dream- and fantasy Breton was assumed to preside over that (a town with
representations" was "recognized as the necessary more than one bishop is no pushover for a self
extension of the empirical principle to the realm of appointed pope). Apart from personalities and party
spiritual phenomena." In Baynes's view, "the idea of politics, the obvious inevitable aesthetic difficulty, in
relating to the anima and, through the anima, to the terms of a practically theological commitment to pure
denizens of the unconscious is cogent to the English abstraction, which to this day, despite postmodernism, is
mind under the aspect of the knightly quest," including still strong in New York, was Breton's?sorry!?
"the idea of giving fair-play to the repressed functions."11
It is worth noting that Herbert Read, that major critic
and advocate within and on behalf of the British
surrealist movement?and not only on behalf of the 12. Andr? Breton, Surrealism and Painting (1927), as excerpted and
trans, in Ratrick Waldberg, Surrealism (1965; reprint, New York: Oxford
hearty Protestant, air-force-type surrealism of Henry
University Press, 1978), pp. 81-88, here 84.
Moore's ilk?himself became an editor of the Bollingen 13. I have suggested the notion of "retroactive influence" for
edition of Jung's works in English. situations in which a "later work influences . . . [an] earlier one,
casting back onto it a reflected light that can enliven latent meanings
that, needless to say, may never have been prosaically intentional
anyway." Joseph Masheck, "Two Blasts from the Past in Picasso (and
Yes, Marcel, You Too)" (1985), in my Modernities: Art-Matters in the
11. H. G. Baynes, "Analytical Psychology and the English Mind," in Present (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993),
Analytical Psychology and the English Mind and Other Papers pp. 213-222, here 220; see also "Notes on Influence and
(London: Methuen, 1950), pp. 34-60, esp. 47, 51, 55. Appropriation" (1985), in ibid., pp. 223-229, esp. 226.

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
Masheck: A Pre-Bretonian advocacy of automatism in art 1 83

hopelessly literary outlook as admitting, if not of Dali's, AUTOMATIC DRAWING (1916)


nevertheless of a still irredeemably descriptive-pictorial by Austin O. Spare and Frederick Carter
sense of the image. So there was reason for artists to
gravitate instead to such an automatist alternative as the Out of the flesh of our mothers come dreams and
"psychological morphologies" of Roberto Matta memories of the gods. Of other kind than the normal
(Echaurren), the Chilean painter who had worked in the inducement of interest and increasing skill, there exists a
Paris studio of the constructivist painter-architect Le continual pressure upon the artist of which he is
Corbusier. Stylistically, one of the closest single points of sometimes partially conscious but rarely entirely aware.
contact with New York surrealism would seem to be He learns early or late in his career that power of literal
between Spare and the rather gothically "far-out" reproduction (such as that of the photographic apparatus)
graphics of Kurt Seligmann (another occultist). is not more than slightly useful to him. He is compelled
Although even Matta would be found too much a to find out from his artist predecessors the existence, in
chairman, he himself seems also to have been representation of real form, of super- / sessions of
influenced by the thinking of the younger British immediate accuracies; he discovers within himself a
surrealist Gordon Onslow-Ford, who in 1940 could selective conscience and he is satisfied, normally, in
write of automatism as a "scientific poetry" in which large measure by the extensive field afforded by this
"lies a philosophy" and indeed as worthy of a "bureau broadened and simplified consciousness.
of analytical research."14 In that year, too, the British Yet beyond this is a region and that a much greater
printmaker Stanley William Hayter, who belonged to one, for exploration. The objective understanding, as we
Breton's and Masson's generation and who had worked see, has to be attacked by the artist and a subconscious
in Paris since 1926, would transfer his Atelier 17 to New method, for correction of conscious visual accuracy,
York (1940-1951), where it would stimulate the must be used. No amount of manual skill and
automatism of Jackson Pollock himself?no doubt by his consciousness of error will produce good drawing. A
example of springy linear arrays, not altogether unlike recent book on drawing by a well-known painter is a
Spare and Carter's, in his own engraving and etching, as case in point; there the examples of masters of
well as by Hayter's famously astute technical tutelage. draughtsmanship may be compared with the painter
And both Onslow-Ford and Hayter would be saluted by author's own, side by side, and the futility of mere skill
Breton in the New York surrealist journal V7ew in 1941. and interest examined. Therefore to proceed further, it is
Now then what one would really like to know is if necessary to dispose of the "subject" in art also (that is
Hayter or Onslow-Ford, not to mention Breton, Masson, to say the subject in the illustrative or complex sense).
or even Jackson Pollock, just so happened to be Thus to clear the mind of inessentials permits through a
acquainted with the first number of Form. clear and transparent medium, without prepossessions
of any kind, the most definite and simple forms and
(In the following version of the original article, a ideas to attain expression.
"sigil" originally occurring in the margin of the large
album-like page is here inserted into the text at its point
Notes on Automatic Drawing
of referencing. Except at two excessively awkward
points in the following re-presentation, I have avoided An "automatic" scribble of twisting and interlacing
correcting eccentricities of punctuation in order to lines permits the germ of idea in the subconscious mind
preserve the artifactual integrity of the original text. to express, or at least suggest itself to the consciousness.
Original page breaks are here marked by slashes, and From this mass of procreative shapes, full of fallacy, a
two notes have been inserted.) feeble embryo of idea may be selected and trained by
the artist to full growth and power. By these means, may
the profoundest depths of memory be drawn upon and
the springs of instinct tapped.
14. Irving Sandler, The Triumph of American Painting: A History of
Yet let it not be thought that a person not an artist
Abstract Expressionism (New York: Harper & Row, n. d.), chap. 2, "The
Imagination of Disaster," pp. 29-43, esp. p. 43 n. 26, with reference to may by these means become one: but those artists who
Gordon Onslow-Ford, "The Painter Looks Within Himself," London are hampered in expression, who feel limited by the
Bulletin 18-20 (June 1940):31. hard conventions of the day and wish for freedom, who

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
184 RES 38 AUTUMN 2000

strive for self expression but have not attained to it, these intellectual conviction or personal religion (intolerance).
may find in it a power and a liberty elsewhere /These produce ideas of threat, displeasure or fear, and
undiscoverable. Thus writes Leonardo da Vinci:? become obsessions.
"Among other things, I shall not scruple to discover a In the ecstatic condition of revelation from the
new method of assisting the invention; which though subconscious, the mind elevates the sexual or inherited
trifling in appearance, may yet be of considerable powers (this has no reference to moral theory or
service in opening the mind and putting it upon the practise) and depresses the intellectual qualities. So a
scent of new thoughts, and it is this: if you look at some new atavistic responsibility is attained by daring to
old wall covered with dirt, or the odd appearance of believe?to possess one's own beliefs?without
some streaked stones, you may discover several things attempting to rationalize spurious ideas from prejudiced
like landskips, battles, clouds, uncommon attitude, and tainted intellectual sources.
draperies, etc. Out of this confused mass of objects the Automatic drawings can be obtained by such

LA
mind will be fur- / nished with abundance of designs methods as concentrating on a Sigil?
and subjects, perfectly new."[15]
From another, a mystical writer!:] "Renounce thine
own will that the law of God may be within thee."[16]
The curious expression of character given by
handwriting is due to the automatic or unconscious by any means of exhausting the mind and body
nature that it acquires by habit. So Automatic drawing, pleasantly in order to obtain a condition of non
one of the simplest of psychic phenomena, is a means of consciousness?by wishing in opposition to the real
characteristic expression and, if used with courage and desire after acquiring an organic impulse towards
honesty, of recording subconscious activities in the drawing.
mind. The mental mechanisms used are those common The Hand must be trained to work freely and without
in dreams, which create quick perception of relations in control, by practise in making simple forms with a
the unexpected, as wit, and psycho-neurotic symptoms. continuous involved line without afterthought, i. e. its
Hence it appears that single or non-consciousness is an intention should just escape consciousness.
essential condition and as in all inspiration the product Drawings should be made by allowing the hand to
of involution not invention. run freely with the least possible deliberation. In time
Automatism being the manifestation of latent desires (or shapes will be found to evolve, suggesting conceptions,
wishes) the significance of the forms (the ideas) obtained forms and ultimately having personal or individual style.
represents] the previously unrecorded obsessions. The Mind in a state of oblivion, without desire
Art becomes, by this illuminism or ecstatic power, a towards reflection or pursuit of materialistic intellectual
functional activity expressing in a symbolical language suggestions, is in a condition to produce successful
the desire towards joy unmodified?the sense of the drawings of one's personal ideas, symbolic in meaning
Mother of all things?not of experience. and wisdom.
This means of vital expression releases the fundamental By this means sensation may be visualized.
static truths which are repressed by education and
customary habit and lie dormant in the mind. It is the
means of becoming courageously individual; it implies
spontaneity and disperses the cause of unrest and ennui.
The dangers of this form of expression come from
prejudice and personal bias of such nature as fixed

15. This rendition of one of the favorite topoi of the surrealists,


borrowed from Leonardo's Treatise on Painting, may come from the
once-popular English version of John Francis Rigaud (1802), though
seeking to verify the point would risk a pointless pedantry.
1 6. Meister Eckhart, perhaps?

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
Masheck: A Pre-Bretonian advocacy of automatism in art 1 85

Figure 1. Austin Osman Spare, Untitled pen and ink drawing illustrating
Austin O. Spare and Frederick Carter, "Automatic Drawing," 1916.

This content downloaded from 200.10.131.128 on Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:43:50 UTC
All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms