Roland Penrose: The Friendly Surrealist : a Memoir
"Penrose" wrote Andre Breton "est Surrealiste dans l'amitie" -- and "The Friendly Surrealist" is an apt description for the man who more than any other nurtured the friendships and contacts which introduced European Surrealism to the British art world. This touching memoir, written by his son Antony, is published to accompany an important retrospective exhibition in Edinburgh and is richly illustrated with contemporary photographs, including those of his second wife (the author's mother), Lee Miller.
Born in 1900 into a strict Quaker family, Penrose discovered the Bloomsbury set in Cambridge before embarking upon a life driven by a passion and fascination for modern art. He embraced the Surrealist movement and the intensively creative spirit of the times through his friendships with Picasso (of whom he wrote an important biography), Man Ray, Miro, Ernst, and his first wife, the Gascan poet Valentine Bouet. His own paintings, sculptures and collages form an important and often overlooked contribution to the canon of international Surrealism.
After World War II Penrose undertook a central role in the development of the British art scene, particularly in the foundation of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. A prolific exhibition organizer, Penrose initiated the First International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936, and the first real "blockbuster" shows of Picasso, Ernst and Miro at the Tate Gallery in the 1960s.