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Andre Breton

(19 February 1896 – 28 September 1966 / Normandy)

Quotations

  • ''Nothing retains less of desire in art, in science, than this will to industry, booty, possession.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Mad Love, ch. 3 (1937, trans. 1987).
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  • ''The work of art, just like any fragment of human life considered in its deepest meaning, seems to me devoid of value if it does not offer the hardness, the rigidity, the regularity, the luster on every interior and exterior facet, of the crystal.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Mad Love, ch. 1 (1937, trans. 1987).
  • ''It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French Surrealist. repr. In Manifestoes of Surrealism (1969). Manifesto of Surrealism (1924).
  • ''Perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Nadja (1928).
  • ''Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Nadja (1928).
  • ''Everything tends to make us believe that there exists a certain point of the mind at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low, cease to be perceived as contradictions.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. repr. In Manifestos of Surrealism (1969). "Second Manifesto of Surrealism," (1930).
  • ''If I place love above everything, it is because for me it is the most desperate, the most despairing state of affairs imaginable.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French Surrealist. Taped discussions, March 3, 1928, published in Recherches sur la Sexualité, January 1928-August 1932. "Sixth Session," ed. José Pierre (1990).
  • ''It is impossible for me to envisage a picture as being other than a window, and ... my first concern is then to know what it looks out on.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Surrealism and Painting (1928).
  • ''There is nothing with which it is so dangerous to take liberties as liberty itself.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Surrealism and Painting (1928).
  • ''What one hides is worth neither more nor less than what one finds. And what one hides from oneself is worth neither more nor less than what one allows others to find.''
    André Breton (1896-1966), French surrealist. Surrealism and Painting (1928).

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The Spectral Attitudes

I attach no importance to life
I pin not the least of life's butterflies to importance
I do not matter to life
But the branches of salt the white branches
All the shadow bubbles
And the sea-anemones
Come down and breathe within my thoughts
They come from tears that are not mine
From steps I do not take that are steps twice

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