Archives - Paul Eluard

Eugène Émile Paul Grindel, known as Paul Éluard, was born into a modest family in Saint-Denis on December 14, 1895.

In 1908, his family moved to Paris. A scholarship holder at the École Supérieure Colbert, Paul Éluard obtained the patent in 1912. His schooling was disrupted by fragile health. He suffers from a disease of the lungs that leads him to make several stays in Swiss sanatoriums. It was at the age of 17, during one of these stays, that he fell in love with the young Russian Helena Diakonova, nicknamed Gala, who became his inspirational muse.

In 1914 he was mobilized and left as a military nurse on the Somme front. Following bronchitis, he was sent back to Paris. The war and the trenches will mark him forever.

In 1917, at age 22, he married Gala and became a father the following year. In Paris he first adheres to the Dada movement, then he takes part in the surrealist movement.

Paul Eluard and Gala. Photo André Breton.


In 1926 Paul Eluard with Louis Aragon and André Breton joined the French Communist Party and took a stand against fascism. During this time he published two essential collections: Capital of Pain (1926) and Love Poetry (1929).

In 1928 Gala left him for the painter Salvador Dalì, after having been Max Ernst's mistress for a while. Nevertheless, the ties of affection will remain intact and he will remain close to them all his life.

Throughout his life Paul Éluard maintained friendly relations with many painters.

Portrait of Paul Eluard by Salvador Dali. Oil on cardboard, 33 x 25 cm, 1929

In 1929, Éluard met Maria Bentz, nicknamed Nusch, a stage artist. He falls in love again. They married in 1934. Nusch was both Éluard's wife and accomplice and model and muse for surrealist painters.

The group of Surrealists, Paris, 1930.
From left to right Tristan Tzara, Paul Éluard, André Breton, Hans Arp, Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Rene Crevel, Man Ray.
I love it, because their eccentricity is in their works, in their thinking, when they are all very neat, shirt, tie. Dali and Ernst are really two very handsome guys, it doesn't spoil anything, right?

August 1930. Éluard and Breton return from vacation, lonely and unhappy. In fifteen days, they complete the writing of a two-handed book, "The Immaculate Conception", an unidentified, fascinating and enigmatic literary object...
The Legend has it that it was in order to "kill time" that Breton and Éluard embarked on writing this collection. "The perfect knowledge we had of each other made our work easier. But above all, it encouraged us to organize it in such a way that a poetic philosophy emerged."
In this prose collection, the two tendencies embodied by Breton and Éluard are united at the very heart of the surrealist movement: the first, an ardent defender of the most baroque and most revolutionary automatic writing, the second, more inclined to a a certain poetic transparency, an evidence that disarms the reader. Here, their common will is displayed: through a radically new word, it is a question of going in search of the Truth itself.
Dali, Gala, Eluard and Nush in 1931 photographed by Man Ray.


From 1931 to 1935, Éluard traveled across Europe as an ambassador for the surrealist movement. In 1936, in Spain, he learned about the Francoist counter-revolution, against which he violently protested. The following year, the bombing of Guernica inspired him to write the poem "Victory of Guernica". During these two terrible years for Spain, Éluard and Picasso were inseparable.

Expelled from the Communist Party in 1933 like the other surrealists, Eluard continued his fight for revolutions. He travels throughout Europe subjected to fascistic regimes.

"Nusch at the Mirror", photo by Man Ray, 1935.


In 1935, Éluard entered the intimacy of Picasso who was going through a serious crisis. Separated from Olga, Picasso stopped painting. Between the two men everything converges: the same taste for poetry, the same vision of artistic creation, the same lifestyle.

On January 8, 1936 Picasso draws a portrait of Éluard which shows how much the current passes between the two artists. This luminous portrait will serve as the frontispiece to the collection Les yeux fertiles .

In March 1936, Éluard introduced Picasso to his friend Dora Maar, who troubled him deeply. This young photographer will enter his life and his painting. Secretly leaving Paris for Juan-les-Pins, Picasso resumed painting with frenzy. A real resurrection! And when Picasso returns to Paris by surprise, Éluard celebrates their reunion in his poem À Pablo Picasso , which will become the central point of his new collection entitled in homage to the painter, The fertile eyes. Written on May 15, 1936, in the midst of the Popular Front, during the strikes, this poem reflects the jubilation of their rediscovered friendship.

To Pablo Picasso

Bonne journée j’ai revu qui je n’oublie pas
Qui je n’oublierai jamais

Et des femmes fugaces dont les yeux
Me faisaient une haie d’honneur
Elles s’enveloppèrent dans leurs sourires

Bonne journée j’ai vu mes amis sans soucis
Les hommes ne pesaient pas lourd
Un qui passait
Son ombre changée en souris
Fuyait dans le ruisseau

J’ai vu le ciel très grand
Le beau regard des gens privés de tout
Plage distante où personne n’aborde

Bonne journée qui commença mélancolique
Noire sous les arbres verts
Mais qui soudain trempée d’aurore
M’entra dans le cœur par surprise.

Mobilized in September 1939 in the stewardship, in June 1940 he moved with Nusch to Paris. During the period of the German occupation, Paul Éluard was part of the resistance. He participated in clandestine literature at the head of the National Committee of Northern Zone Writers.

His poem "Liberté" (see here) was launched in thousands of copies above occupied France by English planes. He continued to publish until liberation in 1945.

Standing: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose and Louis Aragon. Seated: Picasso, Nusch Eluard. Paul Eluard and Elsa Triolet. Picasso's studio rue des Grands Augustins, Paris, 1944.


When the war was over, Paul Eluard and Nusch multiplied their tours and conferences in Europe on the sign of peace. On November 28, 1946, Nusch died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Paule Éluard is overwhelmed with pain.

Very interesting and amusing photo of the Surrealists group, we recognize Dalì, Gala, Éluard…
Uh, finally, recognize? Recognize the spirit in any case.

Poem by Paul Eluard. Illustrations: woodcuts by Serge Rezvani. Book published in only 16 copies by Aimé Maeght in 1947,

"She caused a palace to be erected for herself which resembled a pond in a forest, for all the ruled appearances of light were buried in mirrors, and the diaphanous treasure of her virtue rested at the bottom of golds and emeralds, like a beetle. »

This poem with mythical, even mythological accents, is a loving, sensual and even erotic madness. Sublimated by the somewhat callipygous and terribly enigmatic portraits of women drawn and engraved by Serge Rezvani. Rezvani is also known for having composed "Le Tourbillon de la vie", a song written for the film "Jules et Jim" by François Truffaut and sung by Jeanne Moreau.

Paul Eluard by Fernand Léger, 1947

In 1948, with Picasso, he was invited to participate in the Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Wroclaw, Poland.

Rare invitation card to the exhibition of 85 original etchings produced by Roger Chastel to illustrate "Le bestiaire" by Paul Eluard and presented at the Galerie Maeght from February 11 to 21, 1949.

In 1949, at the Mexico City Peace Congress, Eluard met his third wife Dominique, whom he married in 1951.

Portrait of Paul Eluard by Valentine Hugo
Three portraits of Paul Eluard by Alberto Giacometti, 1952

Paul Eluard and Pablo Picasso

Paul Eluard died of a heart attack on November 18, 1952. He is buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. His funeral is organized by the French Communist Party.

The infinite sadness on Picasso's face at Paul Eluard's funeral. Photo Marc Riboud.
After the death of Éluard Picasso will no longer have a poet friend. From now on, he will have to assume alone the questions he was asking himself about the role and meaning of art. This is what he will do for more than twenty years.