Aimé Maeght - Surrealism in 1947

At the end of the war, just opened his gallery, Aimé Maeght, went to New York to meet Marcel Duchamp and propose to make an exhibition synthesis of surrealism.Organized by Marcel Duchamp, André Breton and Aimé Maeght "The International Exhibition of Surrealism in 1947" was one of the events that made the Maeght Gallery known worldwide.

Below, an excerpt from The Maeght Saga
"In the wake of the Braque exhibition, during the three months of the summer of 1947, Aimé presented the crazy project he had gone to submit to Marcel Duchamp in Manhattan. He wanted to organize in Paris, in his gallery, a great exhibition of surrealism.
His verve and dynamism won the day. Duchamp was thrilled by Aimé's ardor and energy and offered to make his entire gallery available to André Breton and Marcel Duchamp.
Thus, on July 7, "The Surrealism in 1947" opened.
The exhibition is spread over four distinct spaces. The risers of the entrance staircase have the appearance of book spines and constitute an ideal Surrealist library. Frederick Kiesler, who designed Peggy Guggenheim's New York gallery, imagines the architecture of the "Superstitions Room" which, as described in the important book published for the occasion, "opens the theoretical cycle of tests and the visitor must realize the synthesis of the main existing superstitions and force 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 on a billiard table behind which falls, permanently, a curtain of rain.
Beyond are twelve octagonal cells, each one being, according to Breton, "dedicated to a being, a category of beings or an object likely to be endowed with mythical life and to which one will have raised an altar on the model of the pagan cults - Indian or voodoo, for example". Breton has carte blanche and does not hesitate to listen to his surrealist friends.
The extracts of a letter of Benjamin Péret summarize rather well the spirit of the exposure: "I propose that curtains of rain fall on mouths of women in relief...
For the Loup-Table, one could hear the amplified noise 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 float false spiders...
The serpent bird wears a crown of condoms...
The worldly tiger wears a monocle and stares at a surgeon's coat with bloody handprints...
I also think that intermittent noises could be introduced: laughter of women being tickled, sound of torn fabric, sound of a person falling down a staircase, sound of frying, birdsong, squeaking of geese, frog songs, sound of kissing, priest's bell with revolver shots, rabid barking..."
Modernity of thought, again, when is written: "All is false today in the relations of the man and the woman. These relations are of master to slave; that must disappear among us."
And, still in the catalog, under the pen of Sarane Alexandrian: "I believe in the possibility, for a handful of men, to inaugurate a cult of the woman so deeply 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 welcomes one hundred and fifty works by eighty-seven artists from twenty-four countries; an opportunity for as many encounters for Aimé. "Beauty will be convulsive or will not be" is the manifesto phrase of the exhibition.
One can see a foam breast bearing the inscription "please touch" (a work of Duchamp then eighty-five years old), a naked woman wanders, garlands of breasts are suspended outside the gallery - the police hasten to make them unhook. The exhibition causes 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 do not photograph themselves so much the flashes crackle. Mouse droppings block the mechanism of a mobile, the billiard players are bored because the public has stolen their balls. All the press is echoing the exhibition. The spirits are heated and communist militants, opposed to this Americanized surrealism, are sent by Aragon, to make scandal. Here is an additional publicity. More than forty thousand curious people will rush to see this event with international repercussions. Yet the exhibition took place during the summer in a deserted Paris.
What is the result? Nothing sold because there was nothing to sell, endless discussions and a bitter row between Breton and Aimé. But so many new and admirable encounters are made that the adventure, far from being considered a fiasco by Grandpa, is on the contrary a particle gas pedal."

End of the extract from La Saga Maegh

Aimé Maeght, on the left and André Breton

To "decorate" the catalog, Duchamp, who lives in New York, recovered, in an American surplus, foam breasts that were designed for the wives of GIs who had discovered in Italy and France more "plump" women. Duchamp had them fixed on a precious velvet and then on the covers of the voluminous catalog of the exhibition. On the back a label indicates " please touch ".
Aimé Maeght had a passion for publishing, he will create Maeght Editor to provide the ideal tool for communication to the artists of the Maeght Gallery and the Maeght Foundation

Preparation of the exhibition "The Surrealism in 1947", July 1947.
Here, the foreman Zigotto alongside Arshile Gorky's painting. "The liver and crest of the rooster". Photo Denise Bellon.

For this huge exhibition organized at the Maeght Gallery with Marcel Duchamp and André Breton in 1947, Aimé Maeght asked Joan Miró to make an original lithograph poster.
This was the first collaboration between Joan Miró and Aimé Maeght. From then on, Joan Miró printed almost all of his engravings, lithographs, posters, and books at the ARTE Maeght print shop, including the posters for his exhibitions at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and in the most important museums in the world.

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

The famous billiard table and in the background, the painting of 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 Rodanski
11 Gaston Criel
12 Hans Bellmer
13 André Breton
14 Henri seigle
15 Henri Pastoureau
16 Geerbrandt
17 Victor Brauner
18 Sarane Alexandrian
19 Toyen
20 Madame Seigle
21 Nora Mitrani
22 Jacques Hérold
23 Henri Goetz
24 Frédéric Delanglade
25 Matta
26 Frederik Kiesler
27 Jindrich Heisler
28 Aimé Maeght
29 Ervin Marton

Photography: Denise Bellon, 1947 (c) the films of the equinox-photographic fund Denise Bellon
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, hand-colored foam rubber breast mounted on black velvet, made in collaboration with Enrico Donati. 
Catalog of the International Exhibition of Surrealism presented by Marcel Duchamp and André Breton at the Maeght Gallery 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 lithographs in color 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 black lithographs 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