André Masson (French, 1896–1987) was a painter and graphic artist who promoted Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism in his works. Masson was born in Balagne, France, and moved to Brussels, Belgium, in 1904. He attended Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts from 1907 to 1912, when he moved to Paris.
In Paris, Masson was admitted to the Paul Baudoin studio at the Ecole National Superieure des Beaux-Arts, where he remained until war broke out. He joined the army in 1914, but, after becoming severely wounded three years later, he spent several months at a military hospital. This trauma found its way into his early works, which depicted battle scenes, death, blood, birds, and fish, such as Furious Suns and Battle of Fishes. Masson returned to Paris in 1922, and was influenced by André Derain (French, 1880–1954) and Cubism before joining the Surrealist artists in 1924. One year later, these artists held their first exhibition, in the Pierre gallery, and Masson participated. The artist broke away from the group five years later, in protest against André Breton's claim to leadership of the group. Masson joined the Surrealist circle again in 1937, and tried his hand at the Surrealists' favorite activity of automatic drawing, from which he developed a new technique that retained the element of chance. He became the leader of this new technique, which was called automatism.
In 1939, Masson migrated to the United States and was a great influence on many American painters, notably Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956). Six years later, he went back to France and produced several landscape paintings in Aix-en-Provence; these paintings were shown from 1955 to 1964 at Documentas One through Three, in 1964 in Berlin and Amsterdam, and in 1972 at the Venice Biennale. In between, he did several paintings, notably the 1966 ceiling painting for the Parisian Théatre Odéon. Masson died in Paris, France, in 1987.