Pierre Daura (Catalan-American, 1896-1976). Church, Checkered Sky (Saint-Cirq), 1972. Oil on canvas. 58 3/8 x 23 3/8 inches. On Loan from the University of Oregon Law School

Pierre Daura’s Enchanted Universe

March 20, 2021 to August 01, 2021

Drawn from the permanent collections of the JSMA and Knight Law Center, this exhibition explores the paintings of Catalan-American artist Pierre Daura through his answers to a survey conducted in 1953 by Surrealist poet and founder, André Breton. The survey asked participants to consider the connection between art and magic, as part of Breton’s research for an art historical opus titled L’Art Magique, which positioned art as an ancient conduit for magic and artists as modern magicians Though he never associated with the Surrealist movement, Daura’s answers reveal an imagination deeply engaged with Breton’s thesis. In Daura’s words, “The magician tries to enchant the universe. The modern artist reveals the enchanted universe;” and art, as a “magic object,” can operate “only by way of revelation and initiation." The works in this exhibition reveal the enchanted refrain that runs through the mature decades of Daura’s prolific and diverse output between the 1930s and the 1970s. Moving nimbly between landscape, portrait, and abstraction, watercolor, oil, and gouache, Daura embodies his ideal of an artist-magician dedicated to initiating viewers to an entrancing veiled world.

Born Pedro Juan Daura y García in Minorca, Spain, Pierre Daura spent his formative years training in Barcelona before moving to Paris in 1914 and becoming fully integrated with the Parisian avant-garde. From 1930 to 1939, Daura lived and worked in themedieval village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in Southern France, where he would later befriend Breton. Following the Spanish Civil War and an exile in Virginia during WWII, Daura divided time between homes in Virginia and Saint-Cirq for the rest of his life.

This exhibition is curated by Emily Dara Shinn, Curatorial Extern in European and American Art, and is indebted to the generosity of the artist’s daughter, Martha Daura, and the dedicated research on L’Art Magique conducted by 2019-20 extern Caroline Phillips. 

Online resources:
Gallery Guide