Andre Breton (1896-1966) may be the patron and founding saint of the movement we know as "Surrealism". "I believe", he said, "in the future resolution of the states of dream and reality, in appearance so contradictory, in a sort of absolute reality, or surrealite, if I may so call it". So he wrote in his Manifeste du Surrealisme (pp 23-24), published in Paris in 1924, just days after the first meetings of the group of writers and artists to which he belonged called the Centrale Surréaliste or the Bureau of Surrealist Research, (also known as the Bureau of Surrealist Enquiries). Breton's Manifesto was a defining element of the movement (in spite of its own probably intentional contradictions), and , well, entirely too much to summarize here in this minor post. I am more interested presently in some of the names he discussed here and in a later work.
Breton made several interesting lists of artists and writers who he identified as Surrelaists or precursors of Surrealism, the names appearing in the Manifestes... and then in the Anthologie de l'Humor Noir. The suggestions are factual and fanciful, meant to be taken seriously and not--ir at least his reasons and identifiers of those names were to be taken loosely if not the names themselves. In any event it is an itneresting amalgamted list, which is presented below, cobbled together from the two sources and then alphabetizied. These are names Breton mentions explicitly in his lists, and do not include all of those folks whos eart he discusses in those works. I mean to return to this with portraits and links, but for a start today I'd at least to start with the backbone of the names.
[Source: the Paris surrealists, 1933: Tristan Tzara, Paul Éluard, André Breton, Hans Arp, Salvador Dalí, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, René Crevel and Man Ray. Photo by Anna Riwkin-Brick. Image found here: Art and Studio Tumblr, here.]
[Artists in Exile, 1942: Front row left to right: Matta Echaurren, Ossip Zadkine, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger Second row: André Breton, Piet Mondrian, André Masson, Amédée Ozenfant, Jacques Lipchitz, Pavel Tchelitchew, Kurt Seligmann and Eugene Berman. (Photo: George Platt Lynes]
Breton's definitions of surrealism:
SURREALISME, n, m. Automatisme psychique pur par lequel on se propose d’exprimer, soit verbalement, soit par écrit, soit de toute autre manière, le fonctionnement réel de la pensée, en l’absence de tout contrôle exercé par la raison, en dehors de toute préoccupation esthétique ou morale. [Surrealisme. Noun, masculine. Pure psycic automatism, by which one intends to express verballym in writing or by any other method, the treal functioning of the mind. Dictation by thought, in the absence of any control exercise by reason, and beyond any aesthetic or moral preoccupation]
ENCYCL; Philso. Le surréalisme repose sur la croyance à la réalité supérieure de certaines formes d’associations négligées jusqu’à lui, à la toute puissance du rêve, au jeu désintéressé de la pensée. Il tend à ruiner définitivement tous les autres mécanismes psychiques et à se substituer à eux dans la résolution des principaux problèmes de la vie. [Encycl. Philos. Surrealisme is base on the belief in the superior reality of certain formes of association heretofore neglected, in the omnipotence of dreams, in the undirected play of thought...]
The List (Some names are not followed by an identifier; others are.)
Achim von Arnim is surrealist absolutely, in space and time
Baudelaire is surrealist in morals.
Bertrand is surrealist in the past
Carrier is surrealist in drowning
Carroll is surrealist in nonsense
Chateaubriand is surrealist in exoticism
Constant is surrealist in politics
Desbordes-Valmore is surrealist in love
Faruge is surrealist in atmosphere
Flamel is surrealist in the night of gold
Heraclitus is surrealist in dialectic
Hugo is surrealist when he is not stupid
Huysmans is surrealist in pessimism
Jarry is a surrealist in absinthe
Monk Lewis is surrealist in the beauty of evil
Lully is surrealist in definition
Nouveau is a surrelaist in the kiss
Picasso is surrealist in cubism.
Poe is a surrealist in adventure
Thomas de Quncey
Rabbe is surrealist in death.
Reverdy is a surrealist at home
Rimbaud is surrealist in life and elsewhere
Roussel is surrealist in anecdote. Etc.
Sade is surrealist in sadism.
Hervey Saint-Denys is surrealist in the directed dream
Saint-John Perse is a surrelaist at a distance
Saint-Pol-Roux is surrealist in the symbol
Seurat is surrealist in design.
Swift is surrealist in malice
Vaché is surrealist in me
Roger VitracYoung's Night Thoughts are surrealist from cover to cover. Unfortunately, it is a priest who speaks; a bad priest, to be sure, yet a priest.