PRE-SURREALISM 1920-1924

                    December   Tzara leaves Zurich

1920  January  Tzara arrives in Paris   

         January 23  First "Friday of Littérature"  First public appearance of Dada and Dadaists in Paris. Picabia exhibits is   Double World (LHOOQ)   

    The "Dada-Almanach" is published in Berlin.

  • In February Tzara publishes DADA 6 in Paris.

  • Hausmann and Huelsenbeck give a lecture tour on DaDa in Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Prague.

  • March 1920  Tzara and Picabia create DADAphone

  • In April the Dadaist organize "excursions" in Paris to DADA "places".

  • A DaDa exhibition, with works by Picabia, Arp, and Ribemont-Dessaignes, takes place in Geneva.

  • In April a Picabia exhibit with a catalogue written by Tzara.

  • In May the Dadaists  stage a new Play Vous m'oublierez.

  • On May 26, the Dadadist propose the (in)famous Festival Dada at the salle Gaveau

  • A DaDa exhibition in Cologne is closed down by the police.

  • "Dada" 7 is  published by Tzara in Paris in October, "391" continues to be published, and Picabia publishes in Paris his new journal Cannibale.

  • Arp leaves Cologne for Paris, where a "DaDa festival" takes place in May.

  • The "Erste Internationale Dada-Messe" takes place in Berlin in June.

  • Grosz prepares DADACO in Munich

  • Aragon and Breton indicate that they will become members of the newly created  Parti Communiste Français.

  • A dada exhibition featuring the works of Max Ernst takes place in Paris.

     

  • 1921

    1. The DaDa journal "Bleu" is published in Italy.

    2. Duchamp and Man Ray publish "New York Dada."

    3. Picabia and Breton withdraw themselves from the dadaism movement.

    4. «The final period of Dada, the period of its apogee and decadence, occurred in Paris, in 1920. Picabia invited Tzara to France, where he received him, lodged him and introduced him to artistic circles. And soon the climate of Dada activities was restored, more intense than ever. The publications, demonstrations, exhibitions followed one another in an accelerated rhythm, now with a well defined technique of the scandalous and grotesque. In Paris the success of Dada was immense, doubt-less because its nihilism corresponded to the general postwar discouragement, which it expressed in a new and brilliant form. And also, perhaps because it brought forth an exceptional expenditure of talent and wit. The fireworks were fed by Picabia and Tzara and other outstanding lights, who later rose to fame. Among these were Paul Eluard and André Breton, for whom Dada was a jumping-off place to a great new adventure, Surrealism.

      The Parisian success of Dada definitely consecrated it as a revolutionary movement. But this label was soon to encompass its downfall. Dada acted on men's minds like an ebullient, stimulating potion—it could not assume any fixed form without irremediably losing its ephemeral, mobile, imponderable virtues.

      Through ambition or incomprehension some of its members tried to enlist it in political activity. The misunderstandings began. Picabia abandoned the movement.

      (Quotation: "Dada is dead, why did I kill Dada?")

      Dada vanished one fine day as a meteor disappears in the sky, leaving behind it the memory of its brilliant trajectory and the light of the numerous fires it kindled in passing.» Annabelle Buffet-Picabia

  • 1922

    1. Max Ernst leaves Cologne for Paris, dissolving the Cologne DaDa group.

    2. The DaDa-journal "Mecano" is published by Theo van Doesburg in the Netherlands.

    3. April: Picabia and Breton publish works attacking the dadaists, who led by Tzara, publish a counter-attack, but the Paris DaDa group also dissolves.

    4. Breton and Picabia continue Littérature without Tzara.
    5. A "Congress of the Constructivists" is held in Weimar in October, which is attended by a number of the German dadaists.

    6. November: Breton and Picabia use Littérature to attack Soupault, Tzara.

     

    1923

    1. Duchamp, in New York, gives up painting.

    2. Two final dada stage performances are held in Paris during the summer.

  • 1924

    Yvan [Ivan] Goll ( 1891 Saint-Dié - 1950 Paris): The poet Yvan Goll was born Isaac Lang, a German citizen with Jewish antecedents, in 1891 in Saint-Dié in Alsace-Lorraine – the borderland disputed between France and Germany. His wandering life as an exile was to reflect the turmoil in Europe in the first half of the century.
    After studying law and philosophy in Berlin he identified himself with the new wave of German expressionism that flourished in Berlin before the First World War. He became a noted Expressionist poet, friend with Lasker-Schuler; he may have met Hugo Ball and E. Hennings before WWI. Goll,  was a socialist pacifist and in 1914, to escape conscription into the German army, he took refuge in Geneva, Switzerland. There he published poems and articles critical of the war – including Requiem. He was a member of the Pacifist group aroound the French writer Romain-Rolland (Pierre Jean Jouve). In 1916, when the German army asked the Geneva Pacifists to allow Lenine to go back to Russia in a German armored train, Goll, a translator of Blok, Maiakowski, Biely, etc.,  was sent to Zurick to discretely confer with the Soviet group in exile there. At this occasion he met with the DADA group that was just starting and that included several Expressionists from Berlin and Hans Arp that he had met in Strasbourg when he was studying at the Law school. After the war he came to Paris with the group of pacifists and became an important member of the Apollinaire group. He divided his time between Berlin, Paris and Ascona (C.G. Jung). In 1923 a collection of his works is published at La Sirène published directed by Jean Cocteau and Blaise Cendrars. In October 1924 he published the journal Surréalisme with several members of the Apollinaire group. His esthetic vision of Surrealism was of Constructivist influence and placed the importance on the conscious literary aspect of surreality and the rejection of the Freudian play on language. It is Goll's surrealism that is attacked by Breton in his  1st Manifesto. Goll's surrealism was mostly appreciated in Latin America (Huidobro) and in the Anglo-saxon world (Pound, Joyce). In 1939, to escape Nazi persecution, he emigrated to New York and the USA, where he continued to write and produced an international journal of literature (Hemispheres). In it one can find the first English translations of Aimé Césaire and  the first presentation of A. Miller. Many poems are connected to Goll's most well-known heroic poem of wandering Landless John [Jean-sans-Terre]). When Breton arrives in New York it is Goll that will first take care of him and give him the means to survive in this new intellectual world which has become Goll's new world.  In 1947, dying from leukemia, he returned to Paris. Despite sixteen poets from countries across the world giving him their blood, he died there in February 1950.

     

    «Guillaume Apollinaire, je t'aime. Tu n'es pas mort, — pas plus que ton père Mallarmé, — bien qu'en France on vous ait enterrés depuis longtemps. Quand vous ressusciterez, quelque chose de neuf célébrera une autre victoire. Et tu l'as mérité plus que les autres, toi qui as écrit un seul drame, Les mamelles de Tirésias, consacré à l'avenir de ta patrie gauloise et qui, — c'est dit dans l'Avant-Propos, — poursuit le but purement social d'inciter l'homme et la femme à faire des enfants ! Un drame, un signal avertisseur de toi !... Surréalisme ! Surtemporalité dans le temporel ! là, des seins de femmes s'envolent, comme de petits ballons vers le ciel. Paris est Zanzibar. Paris est une capitale américaine. La femme devient maire, et l'homme met au monde 70 000 enfants, qui, dès le berceau, se mettent à intriguer. Gagner de l'argent, se marier ! Ce n'est pas une plaisanterie, c'est le cri de détresse qui monte de la réalité la plus sérieuse et la plus amère, haussée sur un ton de mégaphone jusqu'au grotesque, c'est la vérité saignante, mise à la scène par les moyens poétiques les plus neufs. Surréalisme !» Yvan Goll, «Lettre à feu Guillaume Apollinaire», 1919.

    «L'art est une émanation de la vie et de l'organisme de l'homme. Le surréalisme, expression de notre époque, tient compte des symptômes qui la caractérisent : il est direct, intensif, et il repousse les arts qui s'appuient sur des notions abstraites et de seconde main : logique, esthétique, effets de grammaire, jeux de mots.
    Le surréalisme ne se contente pas d'être le moyen d'expression d'un groupe ou d'un pays : il sera international, il absorbera tous les ismes qui partagent l'Europe, et recueillera les éléments vitaux de chacun.
    Le surréalisme est un vaste mouvement de l'époque. Il signifie la santé, et repoussera aisément les tendances de décomposition et de morbidité qui surgissent partout où quelque chose se construit.
    L'art de divertissement, l'art des ballets et du music-hall, l'art curieux, l'art pittoresque, l'art à base d'exotisme et d'érotisme, l'art étrange, l'art inquiet, l'art égoïste, l'art frivole et décadent auront bientôt cessé d'amuser une génération qui, après la guerre, avait besoin d'oublier.» Ivan Goll, Manifeste du Surréalisme, 1924.

     

     

     

    In those days, a man at least as boring as I, Pierre Reverdy, was writing:

     

            The image is a pure creation of the mind. It cannot be born from a comparison but from a jux­taposition of two more or less distant realities.

    The more the relationship between the two juxta­posed realities is distant and true, the stronger the image will be—the greater its emotional power and poetic reality ...

     

    These words, however sibylline for the uninitiated, were extremely revealing, and I pondered them for a long  time. But the image eluded me. Reverdy's aesthetic, a completely a posteriori aesthetic, led me to mistake the ef­fects for the causes. It was in the midst of all this that I re­nounced irrevocably my point of view.   […]. It is true of Surrealist images as it is of opium images that man does not evoke them; rather they "come to him spontaneously, despotically. He cannot chase them away; for the will is powerless now and no longer controls the faculties." It remains to be seen whether images have ever been "evoked." If one accepts, as I do, Reverdy's definition it does not seem possible to bring together, vol­untarily, what he calls "two distant realities." The juxta­position is made or not made, and that is the long and the short of it. Personally, I absolutely refuse to believe that, in Reverdy's work, images such as First of all, it has seized nothing consciously. It is, as it were, from the fortuitous juxtaposition of the two terms that a particular light has sprung, the light of the image, to which we are infinitely sensitive. The value of the image depends upon the beauty of the spark obtained; it is, con­sequently, a function of the difference of potential between the two conductors. When the difference exists only slightly, as in a comparison,* the spark is lacking. Now, it is not within man's power, so far as I can tell, to effect the juxtaposition of two realities so far apart. The principle of the association of ideas, such as we conceive of it, mili­tates against it. Or else we would have to revert to an ellip­tical art, which Reverdy deplores as much as I. We are therefore obliged to admit that the two terms of the image are not deduced one from the other by the mind for the specific purpose of producing the spark, that they are the simultaneous products of the activity I call Surrealist, reason's role being limited to taking note of, and appre­ciating, the luminous phenomenon.

     

    In the brook, there is a song that flows or:

    Day unfolded like a white tablecloth or:

              The world goes back into a sack

     

    reveal the slightest degree of premeditation. In my opinion, it is erroneous to claim that "the mind has grasped the re­lationship" of two realities in the presence of each other.

     

    [Breton's First Manifesto  (excerpts in English)]


    Surréalisme (Ivan Goll)                                                                                              La Révolution Surréaliste  (André Breton)



     
     
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Elsa Triolet, Robert  Delaunay, Claire & Yvan Goll, Valentine Khodassevitch, Maikovski                               Breton, Desnos, Delteil, Simonne Breton, Paul & Gala Eluard, Baron, Ernst


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