Surrealist Manifesto

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Two Surrealist Manifestos (French: Le Manifeste du Surréalisme) were issued by the Surrealist movement, in 1924 and 1929, respectively. The first was written by André Breton, the second was supervised by him. Breton drafted a third Surrealist Manifesto, which was never issued.


[edit] First manifesto

The first Surrealist manifesto was written by the French writer André Breton and released to the public in 1924. 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 the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.

The text includes numerous examples of the applications of Surrealism to poetry and literature, but makes it clear that the tenets of Surrealism can be applied in any circumstance of life, and is 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 that he experienced in which a strange phrase inexplicably appeared 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 brought together to create a new, uncanny union.

The manifesto also refers to the numerous precursors of Surrealism that embodied the Surrealist spirit prior to his composing the manifesto, including such luminaries as the Marquis de Sade, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Raymond Roussel, and even back as far as Dante.

The works of several of his contemporaries in developing the Surrealist style in poetry are also quoted, including texts by Philippe Soupault, Paul Éluard, Robert Desnos and Louis Aragon, among others.

The manifesto was written with a great deal of absurdist humor, demonstrating the influence of the Dada movement which immediately preceded it in France, and in which Breton was also a key player.

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

Signers of the manifesto included Louis Aragon, Antonin Artaud, Jacques Baron, Joe Bousquet, Jacques-André Boiffard, Jean Carrive, Rene Crevel, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, and Breton.

[edit] Quotations

  • "I could spend my whole life prying loose the secrets of the insane. These people are honest to a fault, and their naiveté has no peer but my own."
  • "We are still living under the reign of logic: this, of course, is what I have been driving at. But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest."
  • "Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful."
  • "Surrealism will usher you into death, which is a secret society. It will glove your hand, burying therein the profound M with which the word Memory begins."
  • "Surrealism does not allow those who devote themselves to it to forsake it whenever they like. There is every reason to believe that it acts on the mind very much as drugs do; like drugs, it creates a certain state of need and can push man to frightful revolts."
  • "In this realm as in any other, I believe in the pure Surrealist joy of the man who, forewarned that all others before him have failed, refuses to admit defeat, sets off from whatever point he chooses, along any other path save a reasonable one, and arrives wherever he can."
  • "It is living and ceasing to live which are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere."

[edit] Second manifesto

In 1930 Breton asked Surrealists to assess their "degree of moral competence", and along with other theoretical refinements issued the Second manifeste du surréalisme. The proclamation excluded Surrealists reluctant to commit to collective action: Leiris, Limbour, Morise, Baron, Queneau, Prévert, Desnos, Masson and Boiffard. They moved to the periodical Documents, edited by Georges Bataille, whose anti-idealist materialism produced a hybrid Surrealism exposing the base instincts of humans.[1][2]

[edit] Quotations

  • "The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd."

[edit] Third manifesto

Breton drafted a third manifesto which was never issued.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Dawn Ades, 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,
  2. ^ Surrealist Art from Centre Pompidou. Accessed March 20, 2007

Brenton Art manifesto

[edit] External links

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