Andre Breton 1896 - 1966 French Surrealism Writer/Poets
André Breton was one of many European artists and writers who fled Europe for the United States during World War II. Along with Max and Jimmy Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, and Fernand Léger, to name a few, Breton came to New York and spent time on the East End. Breton grew up in Brittany and studied medicine and psychiatry, though he was never certified to practice. Influenced by Stephane Mallarmé and Paul Valéry, Breton chose poetry over medicine. In 1919, resenting the established literary norm and its debasement of the poet, Breton became mesmerized by the Dada movement's apparent promotion of poetic independence. However, by 1922 he rejected Dada's artistic negativity and began to experiment with new forms of revolutionary methodologies. Cooperating with other disillusioned Dadaists, Breton produced the "Manifesto of Surrealism" (1924), which marked the beginning of a new, incredibly influential artistic perspective—one that ignored all criticism and encouraged the exploration of the irrational and unconscious. The text was an aesthetic and political call-to-arms. Breton and others felt that the only way to truly cope with chaotic externalities was to embrace disorder and transform it into an advantageous form of expression. In addition to writing poems, Breton was an essayist, critic, and editor.