So strong is the belief in life, in what is most fragile in life – real life, I mean – that in the end this belief is lost. Man, that inveterate dreamer, daily more discontent with his destiny, has trouble assessing the objects he has been led to use, objects that his nonchalance has brought his way, or that he has earned through his own efforts, almost always through his own efforts, for he has agreed to work, at least he has not refused to try his luck (or what he calls his luck!). At this point he feels extremely modest: he knows what women he has had, what silly affairs he has been involved in; he is unimpressed by his wealth or poverty, in this respect he is still a newborn babe and, as for the approval of his conscience, I confess that he does very nicely without it. If he still retains a certain lucidity, all he can do is turn back toward his childhood which, however his guides and mentors may have botched it, still strikes him as somehow charming. There, the absence of any known restrictions allows him the perspective of several lives lived at once; this illusion becomes firmly rooted within him; now he is only interested in the fleeting, the extreme facility of everything.
André Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism (1924)”, Manifestos of Surrealism, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972, p. 3
Surrealism, such as I conceive of it, asserts our complete nonconformism clearly enough so that there can be no question of translating it, at the trial of the real world, as evidence for the defense. It could, on the contrary, only serve to justify the complete state of distraction which we hope to achieve here below. Kant’s absentmindedness regarding women, Pasteur’s absentmindedness about “grapes,” Curie’s absentmindedness with respect to vehicles, are in this regard profoundly symptomatic. This world is only very relatively in tune with thought, and incidents of this kind are only the most obvious episodes of a war in which I am proud to be participating. Surrealism is the “invisible ray” which will one day enable us to win out over our opponents. “You are no longer trembling, carcass.” This summer the roses are blue; the wood is of glass. The earth, draped in its verdant cloak, makes as little impression upon me as a ghost. It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.
André Breton, “Manifesto of Surrealism (1924)”, Manifestos of Surrealism, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972, p. 47
Surreal is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year, for 2016. Merriam-Webster’s definition of surreal: “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream;
also: unbelievable, fantastic – ‘surreal sums of money.'”
Surrealists, Too Can Relax… Here’s the Proof
Nearly 1400 attended the surrealists ball given by the New York local of the United American Artists at Webster Hall last night. Pearl Reiger’s costume represents Vanity. With her was George Mann, Chicago.
Ursel Elkan, art student, said her costume was an abstraction (nudes painted on her legs). Union representatives complained crowd was cut down because 80 anxious zanies thought the party was night before.
For her costume called “table lamp,” Juliet Lee won first prize – a carved and gilt picture frame.
This dilapidated bride and groom, dancing wanly to the music of Sidney Bechet and his orchestra [Sidney Bechet!!!], won third prize – a set of oils. Among the judges was Olsen of Olsen and Johnson, Hellzapoppin.
Joop Sanders, splattered himself “Suicide,” won an easel.
Photos by Morris Engel, PM Staff.
PM, November 22, 1940, p. 22