Art Term

Fumage

Fumage is a technique in which an image is created by painting with smoke from a lighted candle into a ground of wet paint

Salvador Dalí, ‘Autumnal Cannibalism’ 1936
Salvador Dalí
Autumnal Cannibalism 1936
Tate
© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2017

The technique was invented by the Austrian surrealist artist Wolfgang Paalen in the late 1930s and results in a hazy cloudy image suggestive of dreams and apparitions. The Messenger, created in 1941 by Paalen depicts a ghostly form floating in deep space. Fumage was also inspired by the surrealist’s attempts to transform automatic writing into drawing and painting. Salvador Dalí appears to have used fumage in the painting Autumnal Cannibalism 1936.