"Leave everything. Leave Dada. Leave your wife. Leave your mistress. Leave your hopes and fears. Leave your children in the woods. Leave the substance for the shadow. Leave your easy life, leave what you are given for the future. Set off on the roads." Andre Breton
1896-1966 Andre Breton, French Poet, novelist, leader and principal theorist of Surrealism
Born in Tinchebray, France, he studied medicine and served in the medical corp during WWI. After returning to Paris after the war, he met Paul Valery and Guillaume Apollinaire.
Initially he was part of the Paris Dada scene in 1919. In 1922 he broke with Tristan Tzara and declared himself the "Pope" of Surrealism. Other former members of the Dada Movement followed him. He wrote Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924, also published a book of Black humor. He founded Surrealist research laboratories utilizing the Freudian method to study the subconscious mind. This concentrates on tapping the subconscious mind through the interpretation of dreams and the use of Automatism or automatic writing.
In the late 30's he made a trip to Mexico where he met Diego Rivera and Leon Trotksy.
In 1941 he moved to New York to escape WWII. There he associated with others, including Max Ernst, Marcel Durchamp and David Hare to begin publishing VVV. He had an influence on a number of American artists at the time, including Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock and Joseph Cornell.
He was very authoritarian, every day he brought his cadre together in a particular cafe.
Works attributed to Breton include:
He became almost a dictator in deciding whose work qualified as "Surrealist" and whose did not.
Motherwell, Robert "The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology", Harvard University Press, 1951
Rubin, William S., "Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage", Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1968.
Last Updated 06.10.04