Born in Wien, Austria. During the 20's Paalen studied art in Italy, Germany and France. He is associated with Abstraction-Creation in 1934, and from 1935 primarily Surrealism. His first one-man show took place in Paris, in 1934. He participated at the international exhibitions of the movement and is said to have invented the Surrealist technique of fumage in 1939, with his companion Alice Rahon, painter and writer, fled Europe and the Second World War and went to Mexico. There he met Diego Rivera and Léon Trotsky, founds the magazine Dyn. His writing in Dyn demonstrated that he was a brilliant thinker. He organized the International Surrealist exhibition in Mexico, in 1940. Committed suicide in 1959, in Taxco, Mexico.