Friday, March 25, 2011

Andre Breton...

Paris Surrealists c.1930 left to right: Tristan Tzara, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Hans Arp, Paul Eluard, 
Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Andre Breton and Rene Crevel.

In keeping with the up and coming Surrealism exhibition I thought I would post a few bits and pieces on Andre Breton. Salvador Dali might be the most well known Surrealist, but Breton wrote the first Surrealist manifesto in 1924, where he defined Surrealism as:
Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express -- verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner -- the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.
A little Breton history:
Breton published Le Manifeste du surréalisme in 1924 and founded the review La Révolution surréaliste (1924–29) that considered the role of painting in Surrealism through the works of Picasso, De Chirico, Max Ernst, Man Ray, André Masson, Joan Miró, Yves Tanguy and Jean Arp in a series of articles. These and other artists were also included in the first group exhibition of surrealist paintings, ‘La Peinture surréaliste’, organised by Breton in 1925. He published a second manifesto of Surrealism in 1930, proposing that apparent contradictions within reality could be resolved creatively through the autonomy of art. His collecting and studying of Oceanic and Native American art contributed to the recognition of non-Western models of cultural expression in Europe, as well as nourishing the surrealist fascination with magic, cult objects and fetishism. (GOMA)

He is also responsible for one of my favorite quotes that I used to have up in my classroom: 
"The man who cannot visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot."

I loved teaching my art classes about Surrealism, we would look at the work of the Surrealists and examine Surrealist techniques like dislocation, transformation and juxtaposition. The students would create their our Surreal artworks on canvas and in Photoshop. I especially liked making Surreal collages with them, cutting up magazines and creating dreamscapes utilising Surrealist techniques. Great memories. 


  1. It was such a fascinating time, wasn't it? Love that quote :) Kx

  2. Perhaps "visualize" rather than "visual"? ... The original is more like "those who refuse to see" ... "Les valeurs oniriques l'ont définitivement emporté sur les autres et je demande à ce qu'on tienne pour un crétin celui qui se refuserait encore, par exemple, à voir un cheval galoper sur une tomate."

  3. I've actually heard of poets doing the same thing as you described above - cutting up words from magazines and books to create random poetry. It sounds like fun!

    I love Breton's manifesto, I think it's such an interesting piece of literature.

  4. I'm enjoying the blog ... I noticed it a few days ago with the references to Laurie Duggan and Alan Wearne, and then the book chaos was fascinatingly a little too close to home.


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