Animal Caught in a Trap

André Masson, French, 1896 - 1987

Made in France, Europe


Crayon on canvas

18 1/8 x 21 5/8 inches (46 x 54.9 cm)

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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Automatism is the general rubric for a range of literary or artistic techniques that short-circuit the controlling, conscious mind in the process of creation. Many Surrealists used automatic techniques to tap the unconscious, which they considered the source of expressive and psychological authenticity. André Masson pioneered automatic drawing—scribbles or doodles that sit on the edge of legibility—as the starting point for more developed images. Here, a seemingly random circular design becomes a sinister trap, poised to snare the unsuspecting beast within.


With Galerie Simon, Paris (stock no. 11123, photo no. 10807, as per label). With Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; with Howard Putzel Gallery, Los Angeles; sold to Louise and Walter C. Arensberg, Hollywood, October 10, 1935 [1]; gift to PMA, 1950. 1. Letter from Pierre Matisse to Walter Arensberg, September 25, 1951 in curatorial file (original in Arensberg Archives).