MovementsArtistsTimelinesIdeasBlog
About us
André Breton Photo

André Breton

French Theoretician and Writer

Movements and Styles: Dada, Surrealism

Born: February 19, 1896 - Normandy, France

Died: September 28, 1966 - Paris, France

André Breton Timeline

Important Art by André Breton

The below artworks are the most important by André Breton - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Egg in the church or The Snake (Date Unknown)
Artwork Images

Egg in the church or The Snake (Date Unknown)

Artwork description & Analysis: Egg in the church or The Snake is an example of photographic collage that was popularized by Surrealists like Breton and Man Ray. Typical of Breton, the title is both symbolic and enigmatic and its subject matter is cryptic and dream-like. It exemplifies the Surrealist interest in the female body as form, as well as an interest in themes concerning sexuality and religion, as elucidated by Georges Bataille. Bataille's text dealt, in part, with Christianity's repression of desire. Breton and his colleagues aspired to reduce all sexual repressions to symbols and language that would serve freedom of expression.

Collage on Paper - Musee d'Ixelles

Poeme (1924)
Artwork Images

Poeme (1924)

Artwork description & Analysis: This is an early example of a Surrealist collage that fuses text and image. Breton wrote this poem the same year he published the Surrealist Manifesto. More than a poetic expression, it reveals Breton's increasing belief in journalism as a potent artistic form as the piece uses newspaper and magazine clipping materials as its source. The text is absurdist and constructs its own logic that would not make sense to a reader trying to understand it as traditional language.

Collage on paper - Elsa Adamowicz

The African Mask (1947-48)
Artwork Images

The African Mask (1947-48)

Artwork description & Analysis: The African Mask is a good example of Breton's studies of Primitive art and its shamanistic potency. Breton was renowned for his mask collection. The first mask he purchased was from Easter Island. While in the United States, Breton traveled around the country, visiting several Native American sites and collecting masks all along the way. He was interested in them as visual objects as well as the metaphorical concept as a window into one's inner mind.

Ink and wax on paper - Mark Borghi Fine Art

Cadavre Exquis with André Breton, Max Morise, Jeannette Tanguy, Pierre Naville, Benjamin Peret, Yves Tanguy and Jacques Prevert (1928)
Artwork Images

Cadavre Exquis with André Breton, Max Morise, Jeannette Tanguy, Pierre Naville, Benjamin Peret, Yves Tanguy and Jacques Prevert (1928)

Artwork description & Analysis: This is an example of an artwork made as an Exquisite Corpse, a Surrealist game developed to free the mind and to tap into subconscious forces, similar to doodling. In this game, artist fold the page into sections and hide previous contributions or build upon one another's collaborative efforts to create a work that is inspired by consecutive artistic moves. In Breton's early development of theories about automatism, he and his colleagues made many of these collages. They also emphasize the act of collaboration, which was a fundamental ideal to both Dada and Surrealism.

Collage on paper - MOMA, New York, Estate of Yves Tanguy

Poeme Objet (1935)
Artwork Images

Poeme Objet (1935)

Artwork description & Analysis: Breton made many Poem Objects, such as this assemblage constructed around a plaster egg. Many of his Poem Objects were assemblages. The text on the plaster egg in this work translates as "I see / I imagine" though the poem beneath is deliberately cryptic. Like the Exquisite Corpse, Breton made these objects as a reflection of his inner mind, and also thought of them as analytical tools that could be analyzed, like dreams.

Mixed media collage - National Galleries of Scotland

Le Coeur A Barbe (The Bearded Heart) (1922)
Artwork Images

Le Coeur A Barbe (The Bearded Heart) (1922)

Artwork description & Analysis: This is the first and only issue of a "transparent newspaper," published by Tristan Tzara in response to André Breton's attacks on him during their Dada collaborations. It exemplifies the Dada print aesthetic, which sometimes appeared as corrupted versions of Victorian printed material. This is an important document as it calls for the "Bearded Heart Evening," which consisted of readings and performances that occurred in 1923 and effectively terminated Breton's involvement with Dada.

Black printing on pink paper - ?



By submitting the above you agree to The Art Story privacy policy.

André Breton Photo

Related Art and Artists

Parade Amoureuse (Love Parade) (1917)
Artwork Images

Parade Amoureuse (Love Parade) (1917)

Artist: Francis Picabia

Artwork description & Analysis: Picabia's mechanomorphic pictures suggest analogies between machines and the human form. To contemporary viewers they were scandalous in their rejection of the idea of the human soul and their emphasis instead on instincts and compulsions - both often erotic. In this work, Picabia blended male and female; the upper part in red might be considered female and the lower part in blue, male. The viewer can imagine the sound of hammering and the idea of a "sonorous sculpture," or a musical instrument. Of course, the most famous example of the male and female mechanized forms going through their motions and yet forever separated is Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915-1923) - on of the most important artworks in all of modern art.

Oil on canvas - Private Collection

The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse (1920)
Artwork Images

The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse (1920)

Artist: Man Ray

Artwork description & Analysis: This early, assisted readymade (a found object slightly altered) was created a year before Man Ray left for France. Marcel Duchamp's influence and assistance are evident in this Dada object, in which a sewing machine is wrapped in an army blanket, and tied with a string. The title comes from French poet Isidore Ducasse (1846-70) and the imagery comes from a quote in his book Les Chants de Maldoror (1869): 'Beautiful as the chance meeting, on a dissecting table, of a sewing machine and an umbrella'. Chance effects were important to the Dada artists, and the piece is very much in that spirit, but it also prefigures the Surrealists' interest in revealing the creative power of the unconscious. The original object was created and then dismantled after the photograph was taken. Ray did not reveal the 'enigma' under the felt and intended the photograph as a riddle for the viewers to solve with the title providing a hint.

Object wrapped in felt and string - National Gallery of Australia, Parkes (reconstructed in 1971)

Ubu Imperator (1923)
Artwork Images

Ubu Imperator (1923)

Artist: Max Ernst

Artwork description & Analysis: This is a relatively small canvas in comparison to Ernst's other works although it radiates a commanding presence beyond its scale. At center, dominating the composition is a tower-like form with human arms extended and a head constructed as an architectural form. The tower is balanced precariously as if a spinning top which has been halted. The stability of architecture versus the instability of the tower's base, and its movement, places the object in internal conflict. Ernst has placed the body/building within a bare desert, with just an abandoned scythe in the background, which would prove futile in such a setting. The title, "Ubu Imperator," translates as the Commander, yet the central figure lacks the stability and authority a leader usually commands in both art and life.

Oil on canvas - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]