Wolfgang Paalen was an Austrian-Mexican artist known for his Surrealist fumages. These works consisted of Paalen elaborating upon the soot patterns left by a lit candle upon paper or canvas. The artist once said his work was an attempt “to find the invisible within the visible.” Born on July 22, 1905 in Vienna, Austria, he was exposed to his father’s collection of Old Masters paintings from a young age. Paalen went on to study painting under Fernand Léger in Paris, where he became acquainted with the Surrealists André Breton, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst. In 1939, he fled the Nazi invasion of France for Mexico at the urging of his friend Frida Kahlo. By this time, Mexico City had already become a safe haven for a number of European Surrealists including Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini. Over the following years, Paalen traveled to British Columbia where he became obsessed by the totem poles of the indigenous people. These new influences led to his works becoming less cerebral and more about the experience of nature and unseen cosmic elements. The artist committed suicide on September 24, 1959 in Taxco, Mexico. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.