André Masson. Praying Mantis. c. 1942

André Masson Praying Mantis c. 1942

  • Not on view

The praying mantis became a kind of totem for Surrealist artists, for whom the ritual in which the female insect devours the male after mating was a compelling example of the link between sex and death. Masson raised what he called the "admirable insects" in his home, and they began to recur in his work beginning in 1934—the same year the Surrealist journal Minotaure featured an influential article on the insect by the French sociologist Roger Caillois. The insect's markedly anthropomorphic form, apparent in these drawings, increased its appeal for these artists. A bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti imagines a woman, in the form of a praying mantis,in the throes of either death or pleasure.

Gallery label from Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration, March 14–July 9, 2012
Ink on paper
13 3/4 x 23" (34.9 x 58.4 cm)
Gift of Philip Johnson
Object number
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Drawings and Prints