The History of Surrealism
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000 - 351 pagina's
"I believe," André Breton said, "in the future resolution of the states of dream and reality--in appearance so contradictory--in a sort of absolute reality, or surréalité." The Surrealist movement, born in the 1920s out of the ferment of Dada, committed to revolution against bourgeois rationalism, and inspired by Freudian exploration of the unconscious, has reverberated more widely and deeply than perhaps any other art movement in our century. Its automatism, biomorphic shapes, visionary mode, and manipulation of found objects mark the work of artists as different as Ernst, Miró, Magritte, and Dali.
Maurice Nadeau's History of Surrealism, first published in French in 1944 and in English in 1965, has become a classic. It is both lucid and authoritative--by far the best overall account of this complex movement. Nadeau traces the evolution of Surrealism, bringing to life its many internal debates about politics and art. He relates the movement to its intellectual and artistic environment. And he provides the statements and manifestos of Breton, Aragon, Tzara, and others.
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In passing he can greet his old friends: Picabia, Duchamp, Picasso are still with
us. I grasp your hands, Louis Aragon, Paul Éluard, Philippe Soupault, my dear
friends forever. Do you remember Guillaume Apollinaire and Pierre Reverdy?
Now there appeared a deluge of reproductions and above all a veritable
retrospective of Picasso's works (from whom Breton was careful, nonetheless, to
withhold the label “surrealist”), to prove that there existed such a thing as “
Of course painting is a “lamentable expedient,” but the sleight-of-hand consists in
regarding the works of Picasso as “beyond” painting, that is, as the proof that
surrealist painting can exist. Must we accord the same quality to Chirico's pre-
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