Cover image for History of the Surrealist movement
History of the Surrealist movement
Durozoi, Gérard.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Histoire du mouvement surréaliste. English
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
805 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NX456.5.S8 D8713 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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"With its unprecedented depth and range, this massive new history of Surrealism from veteran French philosopher and art critic Durozoi will be the one-volume standard for years to come. . . . The book discusses expertly the main surrealist artists like Jean Arp, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, but also treats with considerable understanding the surrealist writing by Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, Robert Desnos, Julien Graçq and, of course, the so-called 'Pope of Surrealism,' André Breton. . . . This book should turn up in all serious collections on 20th century art."-- Publishers Weekly, starred review

From Dada to the Automatists, and from Max Ernst to André Breton, Gérard Durozoi here provides the most comprehensive history of the Surrealist movement. Tracing the movement from its origins in the 1920s to its decline in the 1950s and 1960s, Durozoi tells the history of Surrealism through its activities, publications, and reviews, demonstrating its close ties to some of the most explosive political, as well as creative, debates of the twentieth century.

Drawing on a staggering amount of documentary and visual evidence--including 1,000 photos--Durozoi illuminates all the intellectual and artistic facets of the movement, from literature and philosophy to painting, photography, and film, thus making History of the Surrealist Movement its definitive encyclopedia.

Author Notes

Gérard Durozoi is coauthor, with Berdanrd Lecherbonnier, of the books, André Breton: L'Écriture surréaliste and Le Surréalisme: Théories, thèmes, techniques and the editor of Dictionnaire de l'art moderne et contemporain and Dictionnaire de philosophie . During the 1950s and 1960s he ws closely affiliated, as a philosopher, with the Surrealist movement. Alison Anderson holds a degree in translation fromthe University of Geneva, Switzerland. She has translated extensively from French and is also a novelist.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

With its unprecedented depth and range, this massive new history of Surrealism (including 232 color plates and 777 halftones) from veteran French philosopher and art critic Durozoi will be the one-volume standard for years to come. Divided chronologically into seven chapters, beginning with 1919-1924 and ending with 1959-1969, the book discusses expertly the main surrealist artists like Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Ren Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, but also treats with considerable understanding the surrealist writing by Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, Robert Desnos, Julien Gracq and, of course, the so-called "Pope of Surrealism," Andr Breton. Emerging from the disarray of World War I, surrealism finally foundered soon after the death of Breton in 1966, by which time world events were as ghastly as any surrealist's most vivid nightmare. There is also room for descriptions of hitherto neglected figures, like the migr painter Simon Hanta, father of the great harpsichordist Pierre Hanta. The translation manages to convey the clarity of the original text, published in France in 1997, although the syntax is sometimes half French, half English. Durozoi concludes that the "prestige" of surrealism is intact, and the movement managed to "infuse [life] with fresh air," as Gracq wrote. This generous book ends with more than 50 pages of "Notes on the Principal Surrealists and Some of Their Close Followers" useful potted biographies, which are judgmental rather than dry, reference-style efforts and an impressively copious bibliography reflecting the passion and perspicacity seen everywhere else in this book. (Apr.) Forecast: Despite its length and weight, this book should turn up in all serious collections on 20th-century art, but it will also sell well from display tables and word-of-mouth, as surrealism retains the air of sex, dreams and danger that has captivated readers and art lovers for more than 75 years. And some rarely reproduced images will spur further scholarly investigations. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Philosopher Durozoi, an active participant in Surrealism who is widely represented in writings on the movement, here provides a well-paced narrative of the lives and works of the surrealists. Developments in literature, philosophy, painting, sculpture, photography, and film are placed in context and shown to challenge the prevailing ideas at many points in the past century. The author maintains a global focus instead of limiting himself to Paris and New York, the typical axes for dialog on this movement. The intricate text is supplemented by almost 50 pages of biographies on many "principal surrealists" and primary source material, some of which has been translated into English for the first time by Anderson; possibilities for further research abound. In closing, Durozoi comments that though the official movement has ended, Surrealism itself remains vibrant, as it is the only movement to have espoused an ethic one of love, poetry, and freedom. However, he also captures the "shadow" of the movement by writing that now more than ever the world "deserves the anathema once regularly unleashed on it by the group" for its focus on economic interests, perfectly illustrating the polemics that contributed to the movement's demise. This wonderfully complete text, which may well become a standard history on the subject, is recommended for larger public libraries and libraries specializing in art history. [Publication of this volume coincides with the exhibition "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," which travels from London's Tate Gallery to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City this spring; the catalog, of the same name, is published by Princeton University Press. Ed.] Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Durozoi, a philosopher affiliated with surrealism in the 1950s and 1960s, provides, in a smooth translation from the original French, a comprehensive treatment building on his prior publications. Although the chronological organization of material has as its framework primary literary works such as the first and second surrealist manifestos by Andre Breton (1924, 1930) and the Dictionary of Surrealism by Jose Pierre (1974), all realms of practice are considered, including the plastic arts, performance, and activism. The text is global in scope (including Latin America, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Italy, America and North Africa), but Paris predominates and the Germans (Hoch, Schwitters, et al.) receive brief mention. Not all women associated with the surrealist movement are included, although both Toyen and Kay Sage receive ample coverage. The contributions of surrealism to social realism, abstract expressionism, art brut, pop art, and postmodernism are elucidated. Throughout, images document the individuals involved in the movement, as well as their publications and exhibitions. Large color photographs effectively communicate the texture of major surrealist paintings. Appended are notes on the principal players, arranged alphabetically. Recommended for all collections; may be a useful (if expensive) resource for courses on surrealism. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. E. K. Menon Purdue University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Last Dadaist Fireworks Tension and Waiting
Chapter 2