Modern Languages & Literatures
South Central Review
Journal Article URL
A key aspect of surrealist practice involved the collection of objects from near and far, of high and low value, objects found and purchased, natural or manmade, fashioned by themselves, their friends, or craftspeople from the Pacific Islands or the Pacific Northwest mingled with paintings by themselves and their friends along with such established artists and writers from previous generations as Henri Rousseau, Paul Gaugin, Paul Cézanne, Victor Hugo, and Gustave Moreau.1 They revived the baroque appetite for collecting things from around the world typical of the Age of Discovery as a way of expanding their own appreciation and knowledge of the world and of themselves. Most important for understanding the impact of surrealism on twentieth-century aesthetics was their development of a truly global aesthetic through the embrace of a twentieth-century version of the baroque. Indeed, their adoption of baroque enthusiasm for eclectic objects whose beauty was linked as much to their oddity and capability for surprise as to any Western notion of proportion, color, and quality, catalyzed and materially embodied their global ambition: their desire for their aesthetic to encompass and correlate their own principles to those of others geographically distant from themselves who also funneled their spiritual energies into objects. Moreover, their enthusiasm for collection was matched by their adoption of the baroque collector’s love of mixing categories in one space.
Conley, Katharine, Value and Hidden Cost in André Breton’s Surrealist Collection (2015). South Central Review, 32(1), 8-22.
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