Archives - Exhibition Surrealism in 1947

At the end of the war, his gallery barely open, Aimé Maeght, went to New York to meet Marcel Duchamp and propose to him to make a synthetic exhibition of surrealism. Organized by Marcel Duchamp, André Breton and Aimé Maeght "The International Exhibition of Surrealism in 1947" will be one of the events that will make the Galerie Maeght known worldwide.

Aimé Maeght, on the left and André Breton

Below, extract from La Saga Maeght
"In the wake of the Braque exhibition, during the three months of the summer of 1947, Aimé presents the crazy project that he had gone to submit to Marcel Duchamp, in Manhattan. He wishes, he wants to organize in Paris, in his gallery , a major exhibition of surrealism.
His verve and dynamism won the song. Duchamp was thrilled by the ardor and energy of Aimé, who offered to put his entire gallery at the disposal of André Breton and Marcel Duchamp.
Thus, on July 7, “Surrealism in 1947” opens.
The exhibition is spread over four distinct spaces. The entry stair risers look like the backs of books and make for an ideal surreal bookcase. Frederick Kiesler, who designed Peggy Guggenheim's New York gallery, imagined the architecture of the "Hall of Superstitions" which, as described in the important work published for the occasion, " opens the theoretical cycle of tests and the visitor must realize the synthesis of the main existing superstitions and oblige himself to overcome them to continue the visit ”. Then comes an interminable winding corridor, built in order to impose on the spectator a long journey in front of the works, it opens onto a billiard table behind which a curtain of rain falls permanently.
Beyond are twelve octagonal cells , each being, according to Breton, "consecrated to a being, a category of beings or an object likely to be endowed with mythical life and to which an altar will have been erected on the model of pagan cults. – Indian or voodoo, for example ”. Breton has carte blanche and does not hesitate to listen to his surrealist friends.

André Breton and the foreman Zigotto

Excerpts from a letter by Benjamin Péret sum up quite well the spirit of the exhibition: “I propose that curtains of rain fall on the mouths of women in relief...
For the Wolf-Table, we could hear the amplified sound of the invisible heartbeat...
Votive object for Jeanne Sabrenas: A very large plate in the shape of a star, with five branches ending in an eye and containing milk on which fake spiders float...
The snake bird wears a crown of condoms...
The worldly tiger wears the monocle and stares at a surgical gown with bloody handprints...
I also think that we could introduce intermittent noises: the laughter of women being tickled, the sound of fabric being torn, the sound of a person falling down the stairs, the sound of frying, birdsong, geese squeaking, frog songs, noises of kisses, priest's bell with revolver shots, rabid barking... "
Modernity of thought, again, when it is written: “Everything is false today in the relationship between man and woman. These relationships are master to slave; it must disappear among us. »
And, still in the catalog, from the pen of Sarane Alexandrian: “I believe in the possibility, for a handful of men, of inaugurating a cult of women so profoundly mystical and carnal.”
Ernst, Duchamp, Tanguy, Miró, Lam, Dali, De Chirico, Matta, Henry Miller, Bataille, Désaire, Hans Bellmer, Arp, Calder, Picabia specially imagine works, objects, ensembles – today we would say “installations” or “conceptual works” – for the exhibition.
The gallery hosts one hundred and fifty works by eighty-seven artists from twenty-four countries; opportunity for so many encounters for Aimé. " Beauty will be convulsive or will not be " is the manifesto of the exhibition.
We can see a foam breast bearing the inscription " prayer to touch " (a work of Duchamp then eighty-five years old), a naked woman strolls, garlands of breasts are suspended outside the gallery – the police rushes to get them off the hook. The exhibition caused a scandal. The good people are shocked and Guiguite is worried, she fears these expressions mocking religion, we understand better, by reading the description of the exhibition, what will push her to seek holy water.
Prévert, mockingly, wonders if the photographers are not photographing themselves so much the flashes crackle. Mouse droppings block the mechanism of a mobile, billiard players are bored because the public has stolen their balls. All the press echoes the exhibition. Tempers flare and communist militants, opposed to this Americanized surrealism, are sent by Aragon to create a scandal. This is additional advertising. More than forty thousand curious people will flock to see this event with international repercussions. Yet the exhibition takes place during the summer in a deserted Paris.
What's the result of it ? Nothing sold because nothing to sell, endless discussions and a Homeric shouting match between Breton and Aimé. But there are so many new and admirable encounters that the adventure, far from being considered a fiasco by Grandpa, on the contrary acts as a particle accelerator." End of the extract from La Saga Maeght.

This is what is really subversive, because we are in 1947. In front of a work by Joan Miró, a large unrolled strip of fabric, a young woman is lying, naked. On the penis, a piece of velvet on which is attached a foam breast. At its side, a label reads "Prière de touche", the breast and the title are taken from the cover of the catalogue.

To "adorn" the catalog, Duchamp, who lives in New York, recovered, in an American surplus, foam breasts which were designed for the wives of GIs who had discovered more "busty" women in Italy and France. Duchamp had them attached to a precious velvet, then the covers of the voluminous catalog of the exhibition. On the back a label says "please touch".

Aimé Maeght had a passion for publishing, he will create Maeght Editeur to provide the ideal communication tool for the artists of the Maeght Gallery and the Maeght Foundation.

Preparation of the exhibition "Surrealism in 1947", July 1947. The foreman Zigotto during the preparations painting The Liver and the Cockscomb by Arshile Gorky.
For this huge exhibition organized at the Galerie Maeght with Marcel Duchamp and André Breton in 1947, Aimé Maeght asked Joan Miró to make an original lithograph poster.

This is the first collaboration between Joan Miró and Aimé Maeght. Since then, Joan Miró will print almost all of his etchings, lithographs, posters and books at the Imprimerie ARTE Maeght, including the posters for his exhibitions at MoMA, Museum of Modern Art in New York, or in the most important museums in the world.

Victor Brauner, in front of a painting by Joan Miró, presents his sculpture Le Loup-table (1939-1947)

The famous billiard table and in the background, the painting by Joan Miró.

Some of the surrealist group at the Maeght gallery in 1947
1 Maurice Baskine
2 Pierre Demarne
3 Maurice Henry
4 Jerzy Kujawski
5 Claude Tarnaud
6 Francis Bouvet
7 Enrico donati
8 Marcel Jean
9 Jacques Kober
10 Stanislas Rodansky
11 Gaston Criel
12 Hans Bellmer
13 Andre Breton
14 Henry Rye
15 Henry Pastoureau
16 Geerbrandt
17Victor Brauner
18 Sarane Alexandrian
19 Toyen
20 Madame Rye
21 Nora Mitrani
22 Jacques Herold
23 Henry Goetz
24 Frederic Delanglade
25 Matta
26 Frederik Kiesler
27 Jindrich Heisler
28 Aime Maeght
29 Ervin Marton
Photograph: Denise Bellon, 1947 (c) The Equinox Films - Denise Bello Photographic Fund

Catalog Surrealism in 1947 - Editions Maeght

Executed in 1947 in an edition of 999 copies, of which 49 numbered I-XLIX and 950 on superior wove paper.
On the pink cardboard cover, breast in hand-colored rubber foam and mounted on black velvet, produced in collaboration with Enrico Donati. Catalog of the International Exhibition of Surrealism presented by Marcel Duchamp and André Breton at the Galerie Maeght in July-August 1947. Texts by André Breton Georges Bataille, Hans Bellmer, Joë Bousquet, Benjamin Péret, Robert Lebel, Pierre Mabille… and 24 original illustrations including 5 color lithographs by Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Jacques Hérold, Wifredo Lam and Joan Miro, 5 five etchings by Hans Bellmer, Marcel Jean, Maria (Maria Martins), Yves Tanguy and Dorothea Tanning and 12 lithographs in black by Serge Brignoni, Alexander Calder, Bruno Capacci, Elizabeth Van Damme, Julio de Diego, Enrico Donati, David Hare, Jacqueline Lamba, Matta, Kay Sage, Yves Tanguy and Toyen.

The book La Saga Maeght by Yoyo Maeght, with dedication. Link here

The Maeght Saga by Yoyo Maeght