Henri Michaux

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Henri Michaux
Henri Michaux.jpg
Born(1899-05-24)24 May 1899
Namur, Belgium
Died19 October 1984(1984-10-19) (aged 85)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, journalist and painter
GenreSurrealism, asemic writing
Notable worksMy Properties (1929); Plume (1938); Miserable Miracle: Mescaline (1956).

Henri Michaux (French: [miʃo]; 24 May 1899 – 19 October 1984) was a Belgian-born French poet, writer and painter. Michaux is best known for his poetry and prose, especially his texts chronicling his psychedelic experiments with LSD and mescaline which include Miserable Miracle and The Major Ordeals of the Mind and the Countless Minor Ones,[1] as well as his idiosyncratic travelogues and books of art criticism.



In 1930 and 1931, Michaux visited Japan, China and India. The result of this trip was the book A Barbarian in Asia.[2][3][4] Asian culture became one of his biggest influences. The philosophy of Buddhism and calligraphy later became principal subjects of many of his poems and inspired many of his drawings. He also visited Ecuador and published a travelogue book of the same name.[5] His travels across the Americas finished in Brazil in 1939, and he stayed there for two years.

Michaux is also known for his stories about Plume – "a peaceful man" – perhaps the most unenterprising hero in the history of literature, and his many misfortunes. In 1955 he became a citizen of France,[6] and he lived the rest of his life there along with his family. He became a mutual friend of Romanian pessimist philosopher and French citizen Emil Cioran around the same time.[7] In 1965 he won the grand prix national des Lettres, which he refused to accept.

Visual arts[edit]

Michaux was an idiosyncratic visual artist, associated with the Tachiste movement in the 1940s and 50s. His work often makes use of dense, suggestively gestural strokes that incorporates elements of calligraphy, asemic writing, and abstract expressionism. The Museum of Modern Art in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in New York both had major shows of his work in 1978.

See also[edit]

L'Infini turbulent


  • Ball, David (ed.): Darkness Moves: An Henri Michaux Anthology 1927–1984, Translated, Selected and Presented by David Ball. University of California Press, 1994.
  • Bäckström, Per. Enhet i mångfalden. Henri Michaux och det groteska (Unity in the Plenitude. Henri Michaux and the Grotesque), Lund: Ellerström, 2005.
  • Bäckström, Per. Le Grotesque dans l’œuvre d’Henri Michaux. Qui cache son fou, meurt sans voix, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007.
  • Bowie, Malcolm. Henri Michaux: A Study of his Literary Works. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973.
  • C L Campos, "Michaux, Henri" in Anthony Thorlby (ed). The Penguin Companion to Literature. Penguin Books. 1969. Volume 2 (European Literature). Page 534.
  • Conoley, Gillian (translator). Thousand Times Broken: Three Books. City Lights, 2014.
  • Ellmann, Richard (translator). Selected writings: The space within. New York: New Directions, 1968.
  • Landes Levi, Louise (translator). Vers La Completude. Le Tirlemont, Amsterdam 1983.
  • Landes-Levi, Louise. Toward Totality: Selected Works, 1929–1973. Shivastan, 2006.
  • Landes-Levi, Louise. Yantra – As insert to Tantra Song. Siglio, 2011.
  • Müller-Yao, Marguerite Hui. Der Einfluß der Kunst der chinesischen Kalligraphie auf die westliche informelle Malerei, Diss. Bonn, Köln 1985. ISBN 3-88375-051-4
  • Müller-Yao, Marguerite. "Informelle Malerei und chinesische Kalligrafie", in: Informel, Begegnung und Wandel. (hrsg von Heinz Althöfer, Schriftenreihe des Museums am Ostwall; Bd. 2), Dortmund 2002. ISBN 3-611-01062-6.
  • Sieburth, Richard (translator). A Certain Plume. New York Review Books, 2018.
  • Wedewer, Rolf. Die Malerei des Informel. Weltverlust und Ich-Behauptung, Deutscher Kunstverlag, München, 2007. ISBN 3-422-06560-1.


  1. ^ Paz, Octavio (9 August 2002). "Journeys into the Abyss". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "A Barbarian in Asia". Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  3. ^ [2] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "A Barbarian in Asia". 31 May 2016. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  4. ^ [3] Archived 6 November 2021 at the Wayback Machine "The World of Michaux". Archived from the original on 6 November 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  5. ^ [4] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "Ecuador". Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  6. ^ [5] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "Henri Michaux, French painter and poet". Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Emil Cioran - A Century of Writers (1999) | Türkçe Altyazılı - YouTube". Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.

External links[edit]