Andre Breton (1896-1966)

Man Ray's photographic portrait of Andre Breton - cheers Man

"the individual imagination retains it's total liberty-and that this, even more than the movement itself, is Dada."

Andre Breton was born at Tinchebray (Orne) in 1896. Initially he began training in medicine. However, he soon realised that it would be poetry which would be his true vocation. His early influences tended towards the path of symbolism however with his call up for the first world war their arrived a change in outlook and influence on the young breton. The two main influences on Breton were Jacques Vache and Guillaume. Guillaume, presented new forms of poetry whilst Vache disregard for all forms of literature intrigued Breton.

Around the time of 1919 Breton, Philippe Soupault and Louis Aragon founded a magazine ironically titled " Litterature". In the first four editions Literrature serialised work by Lautreamont which was a clear indication of the directions which Bretons evolution was proceding. However, what was needed was some kind of revolt from convention and the influences of the Zurich Dadaists provided the platform perfectly.
The arrival of Tzara in Paris was awaited by some with messiahic expectations. He immediately became the focus of Avanted garde circles. However, it was almost exclusively the writers who were to become the forefront of Paris-Dada the artist to a man tended to not become involved in the movement.
The First friday was one of the first major Paris events showing work by Juan Gris, Ribemont -Dessaignes, Eluard, Paul Dermee,Birot, Radiguet and Conteau. However the citizens of Paris did not react in the same way as earlier audiences such as those in Zurich. They rioted.The Dada protagonists were taking these reactions in their stride. Breton gives valuable insight into the mechanics of the Paris-group " They do not understand for a moment that it is our differences that unite us. Our common resistance to artistic and moral laws gives us momentary satisfaction.
For Breton this was especially true as shall be seen as his ellegiance to the Dada cause became a thing of the past. A transitional stage on his way to becoming the founder of surrealism. It is at this stage where a brief description of the differences between Dada & Surrealism. Richter comments,
"Out of the explosive element in surrealism he (Breton) fashioned, on rational priciples, an irrational artistic movement, which although it took Dada over wholesale, codified the Dada revolt into a strict intellectual discipline".
In beginners guide language the above quote means he became sensible and in the spirit of Dada this was unforgivable.



Credit for this page goes to: mailto:T.J.Church@ex.ac.uk
Visit His Dada Page At:  http://www.ex.ac.uk/drama/dada/index.html