Surrealism, the early 20th century international avant-garde movement concerned with exploring the subconscious through experimental art and literature, is well represented in the Museum of Modern Art Library collection.
Surrealist material constitutes two founding collections of the Library. The first was acquired from Paul Éluard (1895-1952), French poet and central figure of the Surrealist group, and Camille Dausse, a Parisian doctor closely associated with group members. The Eluard-Dausse Collection of almost 700 books, magazines, pamphlets, and ephemera represents rare and essential documentation of the movement’s early years.
A unique work that captures the spirit of the movement is a scrapbook assembled by Eluard. Featuring a book plate designed by Max Ernst, the material is arranged roughly chronologically between the covers of the journal Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution (1930-1933). In addition to his Association des Écrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires membership card, the scrapbook includes manifestos, formative exhibition catalogs, historic announcements, and several statements signed by artists including Tristan Tzara, Luis Bunel, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Rene Crevel, and Max Ernst, among others.
Building upon this foundation, the Library’s collection on Surrealism has grown over time. This guide lists primary source highlights in the form of artists’ publications (manifestos, statements, journals, literature) and secondary materials such as major historical exhibition catalogs and related material. Digital facsimiles are included where available.
To discover materials on Surrealism by category (such as exhibitions, catalogues raisonnes, or centers of activity), search Dadabase, the Library catalog, by subject. To focus on a specific person, search the name as a subject: Example: Andre Breton.
Surréalisme (1924) print digital
- Manifeste du surréalisme (1924)
- Manifeste du surréalisme (1929, with frontispiece by Max Ernst)
Qu’est-ce que le Surréalisme révolutionnaire? text (1934) English translation (1936) broadside (1948)
- Manifeste du corréalisme (1949)
- Le cause et etendue (1947)
- Rupture inaugurale (1947)
- Haute fréquence (1951)
- Démasquez les physiciens, videz les laboratoires (1958)
- Call for participation (1929)
- Un Cadavre (1924, 1930)
- Permettez! (1927)
- Ne visitez pas l’Exposition Coloniale and Premier bilan de l’Exposition Coloniale (1931)
- L’Affaire Aragon (1932) and related statement (1932)
- Dictionnaire abrégé du surréalisme (1938)
- Protestation (1932)
- See also the Eluard Scrapbook
The Library holds these major journals, among many others devoted to Surrealism:
Surréalisme (1924) print digital
- La Révolution surréaliste (1924-1929)
- Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution (1930-1933)
- Documents (1933-1936)
Le Coeur à barbe (1922) print digital
- Minotaure (1933-1939)
- View (1940-1947)
- VVV (1942-1944)
- Cercle et carré, no. 1 (1930)
Literary forms–poetry, novels, plays, and automatic writing–were central to Surrealist practice. The Library holds first editions of major works such as Paul Eluard’s Répétitions (1922), Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (1897) and related publications, Leonora Carrington’s La maison de la peur (1938), and René Crevel’s Mr. Knife, Miss Fork (1931), among over 300 additional literary works.
Additional highlights include Max Ernst’s novels-collages Les malheurs des immortels (1922), La femme 100 têtes (1929), Rêve d’une petite fille que voulut entrer au Carmel (1930), and Une semaine de bonté; ou, Les sept éléments capitaux (1934).
Major historial exhibitions
- La peinture surrealiste (1925)
- Exposition internationale du surréalisme (1936, 1938, 1947)
- Julian Levy Gallery. Surrealism (1932)
- First Papers of Surrealism (1942)
- Museum of Modern Art. Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism (1936)
- Les Livres Surrealistes (1931). Catalog of publications by Surrealists. Includes portrait photos of artists by Man Ray.
- Program and published debate about Luis Bunel film L’Age d’Or (1930) in the Eluard Scrapbook, p. 9.
- ‘Pataphysics, a quasi-scientific literary practice organized by French Surrealist writer Alfred Jarry, flourished in the late 20th century, as seen in this foundational statement (1960) and Primer (1962), as well as a multilingual overview (1963). ‘Pataphysicians published several journals; the Cahiers du College de ‘pataphysique (1950-1958) is one of the earliest.
Jennifer Tobias, August 2019