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Surrealism, History and Revolution

Simon Baker

This book is a new account of the surrealist movement in France between the two world wars. It examines the uses that surrealist artists and writers made of ideas and images associated with the French Revolution, describing a complex relationship between surrealism’s avant-garde revolt and its powerful sense of history and heritage. Focusing on both texts and images by key figures such as Louis Aragon, Georges Bataille, Jacques-André Boiffard, André Breton, Robert Desnos, Max Ernst, Max Morise, and Man Ray, this book situates surrealist material in the wider context of the literary and visual arts of the period through the theme of revolution. It raises important questions about the politics of representing French history, literary and political memorial spaces, monumental representations of the past and critical responses to them, imaginary portraiture and revolutionary spectatorship. The study shows that a full understanding of surrealism requires a detailed account of its attitude to revolution, and that understanding this surrealist concept of revolution means accounting for the complex historical imagination at its heart.

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List of illustrations 11

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11 List of illustrations 1 ‘Le Passé’, la Révolution surréaliste 5, 15 October 1925. 37 2 ‘1925: Fin de l’ère chrétienne’, la Révolution surréaliste 3, 15 April 1925. 38 3 Max Morise, ‘Itinéraire du Temps’, la Révolution surréaliste 11, 15 March 1928, p.2. 40 4 Timeline for Max Morise’s ‘Itinéraire du Temps’, re-aligned according to the compass directions (produced by the author). 41 5 ‘Vive La France (au phonoscope)’, la Révolution surréaliste 12, 15 December 1929, p.21. 46 6 Max Ernst, Une Semaine de Bonté, 1934, plate 31, p.33, © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London, 2006. 59 7 Max Ernst, Une Semaine de Bonté, 1934, plate 32, p.34, © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London, 2006. 60 8 Charles Fournigault, ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen’, 1905. 73 9 ‘Robespierre a l’age de 24 ans’, Jean Jaurès, Histoire Socialiste, Tome IV, La Convention II, Paris, c.1901, p.997, Courtesy of the Department of History of Art, University College London. 77 12 10 ‘La Véritable Guillotine Ordinaire’, Jean Jaurès, Histoire Socialiste, Tome IV, La Convention II, Paris, c.1901, p.1013, Courtesy of the Department of History of Art, University College London. 78 11 ‘Suprême Argument ?…’, Le Chambard Socialiste,10 February 1894, © British Library Board. All Rights Reserved. F.misc.367 80 12 Willette, ‘Je suis la Sainte Démocratie : J’attends mes Amants’, Courier Français, Paris, 29 January 1888. 81 13 Jouve, ‘Vengeances Sociales’, L’Assiette au...

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