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Surrealist Manifesto

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The Surrealist Manifesto refers to a collection of several publications between Yvan Goll and André Breton, prior leaders of the rival Surrealist groups. Goll and Breton had both originally published manifestos in October 1924 titled Manifeste du surréalisme. Breton later wrote a second in 1929, publishing it the following year, with his third manifesto in 1942.[1][2]


Yvan Goll, Surréalisme, Manifeste du surréalisme,[3] Volume 1, Number 1, October 1, 1924, cover by Robert Delaunay

Leading up to 1924, two rival surrealist groups had formed. Each group claimed to be a successor of a revolution launched by Guillaume Apollinaire. One group, led by Yvan Goll, included Pierre Albert-Birot, Paul Dermée, Céline Arnauld, Francis Picabia, Tristan Tzara, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Pierre Reverdy, Marcel Arland, Joseph Delteil, Jean Painlevé and Robert Delaunay, among others.[4] The other group, led by Breton, included Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Jacques Baron, Jacques-André Boiffard, Jean Carrive, René Crevel, Georges Malkine and others.[5]

Yvan Goll published the Manifeste du Surréalisme on October 1, 1924, in his first and only issue of Surréalisme,[3] two weeks before the release of Breton's Manifeste du Surréalisme, published by Éditions du Sagittaire on October 15, 1924.

Goll and Breton had overtly conflicting beliefs, at one point fighting at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées over the rights to the term "Surrealism".[4] In the end, Breton won the battle through tactical and numerical superiority.[6][7] The quarrel over who first described Surrealism as an artistic movement concluded with Breton's victory.[2][1]

Still, the history of surrealism remained marked by fractures, resignations, and resounding ex-communications, with each surrealist having their own view of the issue and goals, and yet accepting the definitions laid out by André Breton.[8][9]

Breton's 1924 manifesto[edit]

André Breton, Manifeste du surréalisme, Éditions du Sagittaire, October 15, 1924

Breton wrote another Surrealist manifesto, also published in 1924 as a booklet entitled Editions du Sagittaire. The document defines 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 thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.[10][11]

The text includes numerous examples of the applications of Surrealism in poetry and literature but makes it clear that its basic tenets can be applied to any circumstance of life and are not merely restricted to the artistic realm. The importance of the dream as a reservoir of Surrealist inspiration is also highlighted.

Breton also discusses his initial encounter with the surreal in a famous description of a hypnagogic state. He described this as a strange phrase inexplicably appearing in his mind: "There is a man cut in two by the window". This phrase echoes Breton's apprehension of Surrealism as the juxtaposition of "two distant realities" united to create a new one.

The manifesto also refers to the numerous precursors of Surrealism that embodied the Surrealist spirit, including the Marquis de Sade, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Comte de Lautréamont, Raymond Roussel, and Dante. The works of several of his contemporaries in developing the Surrealist style in poetry are also quoted, including Philippe Soupault, Paul Éluard, Robert Desnos and Louis Aragon.

The manifesto was written with a great deal of absurdist humor, demonstrating the influence of the Dada movement that preceded it.

The text concludes by asserting that surrealist activity follows no set plan or conventional pattern, and that Surrealists are ultimately nonconformists.

The manifesto named the following, among others, as participants in the Surrealist movement: Louis Aragon, André Breton, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Jacques Baron, Jacques-André Boiffard, Jean Carrive, René Crevel and Georges Malkine.[12]

Later manifestos of Breton[edit]

In 1929, Breton asked Surrealists to assess their "degree of moral competence" and, along with other theoretical refinements, issued the Second Manifeste du Surréalisme (1930).[2] The manifesto excommunicated Surrealists reluctant to commit to collective action: Baron, Robert Desno, Boiffard, Michel Leiris, Raymond Queneau, Jacques Prévert and André Masson. A prière d'insérer (printed insert) was published with the manifesto. The insert was signed by the Surrealists who both remained loyal to Breton and agreed to participate in Surrealism at the Service of the Revolution. This was a new publication.

Participating Surrealists loyal to Breton included Maxime Alexander, Louis Aragon, Joe Bousquet, Luis Buñuel, René Char, René Crevel, Salvador Dalí, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Marcel Fourrier, Camille Goemans, Paul Nougé, Benjamin Péret, Francis Ponge, Marko Ristić, Georges Sadoul, Yves Tanguy, André Thirion, Tristan Tzara and Albert Valentin.[13] Along with Ristić, the Belgrade surrealists grouped around Nadrealista Danas i Ovde were aligned with Breton.[14]

Desnos and others, thrown out by Breton, moved to the periodical Documents. It was edited by Georges Bataille, whose anti-idealist materialism produced a hybrid Surrealism exposing the base instincts of humans.[15][16]

Breton wrote another manifesto on Surrealism in 1942.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Breton, André (1896 - 1966) | The Bloomsbury Guide to Art - Credo Reference". search.credoreference.com. Archived from the original on 2023-08-17. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  2. ^ a b c Foundation, Poetry (2023-08-16). "André Breton". Poetry Foundation. Archived from the original on 2023-06-03. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  3. ^ a b "Surréalisme, Manifeste du surréalisme, Volume 1, Number 1, 1 October 1924, Blue Mountain Project". Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b Gérard Durozoi, An excerpt from History of the Surrealist Movement, Chapter Two, 1924-1929, Salvation for Us Is Nowhere, translated by Alison Anderson, University of Chicago Press, pp. 63–74, 2002 Archived 2016-08-09 at the Wayback Machine ISBN 978-0-226-17411-2
  5. ^ André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, transl. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor, 1971), p. 26.
  6. ^ "Matthew S. Witkovsky, Surrealism in the Plural: Guillaume Apollinaire, Ivan Goll and Devětsil in the 1920s, 2004" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  7. ^ Eric Robertson, Robert Vilain, Yvan Goll – Claire Goll: Texts and Contexts, Rodopi, 1997 Archived 2023-10-13 at the Wayback Machine ISBN 0854571833
  8. ^ "Man Ray / Paul Eluard – Les Mains libres (1937) – Qu'est-ce que le surréalisme ?". Archived from the original on 2017-11-08. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  9. ^ Denis Vigneron, La création artistique espagnole à l'épreuve de la modernité esthétique européenne, 1898–1931, Editions Publibook, 2009 Archived 2023-10-13 at the Wayback Machine ISBN 2748348346
  10. ^ "Surrealism Archived 2016-10-19 at the Wayback Machine". MOMA Learning, accessed 18 Oct. 2016.
  11. ^ "[1] Archived 2023-08-16 at the Wayback Machine". "Manifesto of Surrealism, English translation," accessed 16 Aug. 2023
  12. ^ 'André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, transl. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (Ann Arbor, 1971), p. 26.
  13. ^ Gérard Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement, transl. Alison Anderson (Chicago, 2002), p. 193.
  14. ^ Todic, Milanka (2002). Impossible: Art of Surrealism. Belgrade: Museum of Applied Art. Archived from the original on 2021-05-09. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  15. ^ Dawn Adès, with Matthew Gale: "Surrealism", The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford University Press, 2001. Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 2007. Accessed March 15, 2007, http://www.groveart.com/ Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Surrealist Art Archived 2012-09-18 at the Wayback Machine from Centre Pompidou. Accessed March 20, 2007

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