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By Breton, André; Matthews, J. H.; Breton, André

ISBN-10: 0915027712

ISBN-13: 9780915027712

ISBN-10: 9027217327

ISBN-13: 9789027217325

ISBN-10: 9027279225

ISBN-13: 9789027279224

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Additional info for André Breton : sketch for an early portrait

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That evening the phrase borrowed a moment ago from his catalog preface was complemented by a reference to "the marvelous instability" of Picabia and Duchamp. Breton placed the instability of these two artists, whose names frequently appear side by side in Les Pas perdus (where just once they fall next to Jacques Vaché's), among "the premonitory phenomena of Dada" (p. 206). Like Duchamp, to Breton Francis Picabia stood out as someone who had heralded Dada without ending up confined by it. He was a man "opposing the formation of a new stereotype" (p.

But he was doing so in a less than systematic fashion, more by trial and error, we suspect, than he later wished to admit. In his 1924 manifesto, surrealism was sharply but narrowly focused on the concept of verbal automatism. The end of the road traveled by Breton up to the Manifeste du surréalisme is clearly visible today. But if we know, now, where he was headed, we should not fall into the error of imagining that Breton knew it, then. His slowness in acknowledging Francis Picabia's key role in investigating automatic writing was not an isolated phenomenon.

It teaches something important about Breton's attitude and conduct vis-à-vis individuals he judged to be already forging ahead and hence as lighting the way for him, even though not all of them were concerned to help map the route he would soon make his own. This is no reason to wonder over the attraction that Breton felt to the work of one artist or another, or to ask, conversely, why he treated other artists with contempt or suspicion. The reliability of his judgement is not our concern. There is no need, either, to debate how fairly he dispensed commendation in his attempt to share his enthusiasm.

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André Breton : sketch for an early portrait by Breton, André; Matthews, J. H.; Breton, André


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