The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, Margarita Nelken looks back over Alice Rahon’s career. Nelken explains that Rahon, the French artist who straddled between both Surrealist painting and Surrealist poetry, had shaken off her father’s aesthetic influence while still quite young. The virtuoso French painter Jean Louis Rahon had instructed his daughter in the secrets of his art, little realizing the path she would later follow. Alice lived with her husband, Wolfgang von Paalen, during the golden years of Surrealism in Central Europe. She stopped painting between 1936 and 1939, during the Spanish Civil War. She later became one of the great poets in the group that included André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Paul Élouard, and for some time devoted herself to producing poetry that she wrote rather than painted. Nelken claims that Alice Rahon’s true work as a painter did not begin until she arrived in Mexico in 1940.
It is interesting to note that Margarita Nelken (1896-1968), the Spanish art critic living in exile in Mexico, stresses the Mexican pictorial quality she sees in paintings by Alice Rahon (1904-1987). Nelken explained that, since Rahon was born in Brittany in northeastern France—a grey, desolate region where people is extremely self-absorbed—she was entranced with the light and color she found on her bountiful arrival in Mexico. This was where she found her true home, so much so that she took Mexican citizenship and led a very Mexican way of life. Nelken may have identified with Rahon’s delight in the new world of bright colors, since she too came from foreign lands. Perhaps that is why she followed the French woman’s career throughout the 1950s, reporting on Rahon’s exhibitions in the columns she wrote for Excélsior newspaper. The critic Ceferino Palencia also followed Rohan’s career and, by the way, he too was an exiled Spaniard.