Chronology of Surrealism


1916 While recuperating from a shrapnel wound in a military hospital, Jacques Vache meets Andre Breton, then a medical student.  The two become close friends and continue a correspondence after Vache's return to the front lines.

1917 Breton meets Louis Aragon, also a medical student, and Philippe Soupault.

1919 André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Philippe Soupault unite in Paris begin publishing the avant-garde periodical, Littérature, begin an association with Dada. Before his planned arrival, Vache dies from an opium overdose. Breton and Soupault experiment with automatic writing, dedicating their first collection, The Magnetic Fields, to the memory of Jacques Vache. Breton corresponds with Dadaists, including Tristan Tzara, who arrives in Paris later that year.

1920 Along with Tristan Tzara, Jean Arp and Francis Picabia, the Litterature group participates in numerous Dada activities.

1921 Breton visits Sigmund Freud in Vienna.

1922 Breton appropriated the term “Surrealism” as a group — which now included Paul Éluard, Benjamin Péret, Man Ray, Jacques Baron, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Georges Limbour, Roger Vitrac, and Joseph Delteil — organized under Breton and pulled away from the influence of Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists. Marcel Duchamp frequently associated with this group but never officially joined.

Having splintered from the traditional Dadaists, the Litterature group, now calling themselves Surrealists, includes Breton, Aragon, Soupault, Benjamin Peret, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Robert Desnos, Jacques Baron, Rene Crevel, Georges Limbour, Jacques Rigaut and Roger Vitrac, among others.  Marcel Duchamp also periodically participates in the group's activities.

"Sleep experiments" are conducted, examining an individual's verbal and artistic responses while under hypnosis.  Desnos and Crevel emerge as the most gifted participants in these investigations.

1923 Artists Andre Masson and Yves Tanguy join the Surrealists.  Masson experiments with automatic drawings.

1924 Breton publishes the First Manifesto of Surrealism, along with his collection of automatic writing, Soluble Fish.  Aragon's The Libertine and Vache's Letters From the Front (written to Breton during World War I) are also published. Members also included Antonin Artaud, Andre Masson, Raymond Queneau, Joan Miró, Max Morise, Pierre Naville, Mathias Lübeck, Jacques-André Boiffard and Georges Malkine. Giorgio de Chirico briefly associated with the group but never joined.

After five years (1919-24), the publication of Litterature comes to an end, as the group launches a new periodical, La Revolution Surrealiste.   A Bureau of Surrealist Enquires is opened in Paris.

Antonin Artaud, Joan Miro, Raymond Queneau, Max Morise, Pierre Naville, Jacques-Andre Boiffard and Georges Malkine join the Surrealist group.  Giorgio de Chirico also periodically participates in the group's activities.

Miro paints The Hunter and Harlequin's Carnival, while Ernst paints Woman, Old Man and Flower and Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale.

A Surrealist group in Yugoslavia forms under the leadership of Marco Ristitch.

1925 Jacques Prévert, Yves Tanguy, Pierre Brasseur, Marcel Duhamel, and Michel Leiris joined the group. Desnos writes Mourning For Mourning, a collection of automatic writing.  Artaud writes Umbilical Limbo.

The Surrealists present their first group art exhibit at Galerie Pierre in Paris.

Ernst develops "frottage," a creative approach that involves drawing (or rubbing) over a textured surface, producing unusual and automatic patterns.  His painting The Horde (1927) utilizes this technique. 

1926 Rene Magritte, E. L. T. Mesens, Camille Goemans, Marcel Lecomte, Paul Nouge and others started a Surrealist group in Belgium.

Pablo Picasso associated with the Surrealists but never officially joined. Le Cadavre Exquis (The Exquisite Corpse), an artistic game that emphasizes spontaneity and collaboration, is invented by the group. 

Man Ray directs the surrealist film Emak Bakia.  Surrealist publications include Aragon's Paris Peasant, Artaud's Nerve Scales, Eluard's Capital of Pain and Desnos' A la mysterieuse. 

1927 Andre Breton has his first flirtation with the Communist Party.  Artaud, Vitrac and Soupault are expelled from the group.  Soon after, Artaud and Vitrac form the Alfred Jarry Theater, where Artuad begins developing his thoughts concerning a Theater of Cruelty.  The company opens with a production of Vitrac's play The Secrets of Love.

Desnos writes his masterpiece Liberty or Love.  Other Surrealist literature includes Leiris' The Cardinal Point and Aragon's Irene's Cunt.

A Surrealist Gallery is opened in Paris.

1928 Un Chein Andalou, a surrealist film by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, is screened for the first time.  Shortly after, the two Spainards join Breton and his group.  L'Etoile de Mer, a film directed by Man Ray and scripted by Robert Desnos, is also premiered.

Several important Surrealist works are written, including Breton's Nadja, Leiris' Aurora, Aragon's Treatise on Style, Peret's Mad Balls and Desnos' play La Place De La' Etoile.

A series of round table discussions are held by the Surrealists, exploring the nature of sex.  They continue, sporadically, until 1932.

An uneasy alliance develops between the Surrealists and the group Le Grand Jeu, featuring Rene Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Maurice Henry, Joseph Sima, Arthur Harfaux and Roger Vaillant.

The Alfred Jarry Theater presents an experimental production of Strindberg's A Dream Play, directed by Artaud.  Six months later, Vitrac's Victor, or The Children Are In Power is performed. 

Magritte paints The False Mirror, Titanic Days and The Lovers .

1929 For various reasons, including the political direction Breton was taking Surrealism, several members — Prévert, Baron, Desnos, Leiris, Limbour, Masson, Queneau, Morise, Boiffard — broke with the group and organized under Georges Bataille. However, several new members joined: Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Alberto Giacometti, René Char, and Lee Miller. Breton also reconciled with Tzara. When the second Surrealist Manifesto was published, it was signed by Aragon, Ernst, Buñuel, Char, Crevel, Dali, Eluard, Ernst, Péret, Tanguy, Tzara, Maxime Alexandre, Joe Bousquet, Camille Goemans, Paul Nougé, Francis Ponge, Marco Ristitch, Georges Sadoul, André Thirion, and Albert Valentin.

Federico García Lorca was friends with Dalí and Buñuel and is often called a Surrealist though he never officially joined the group; he broke contact with Dalí and Buñuel in 1929 when he interpreted their film, Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog), as an attack on him.

A number of Surrealists join the Communist Party.

Prevert, Baron, Desnos, Leiris, Limbour, Masson, Queneau, Morise and Boiffard are expelled from the group.  Several go on to collaborate with Georges Bataille on his periodical Documents.

Bunuel, Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Rene Char and Lee Miller join the Surrealists.  Tristan Tzara reconciles with Breton.

Breton writes his Second Manifesto of Surrealism, which addresses the expulsions of several ex-members.

After five years (1924-29), the publication of La Revolution Surrealiste comes to an end, as the group begins preparing a new, more politically-driven periodical  Le Surrealisme au service de la revolution.

Surrealist writings include Benjamin Peret's Death to the Pigs and Giorgio de Chirico's Hebdemeros.

Dali paints The Lugubrious Game and The Great Masturbator.

Federico Garcia Lorca studies at Columbia University in New York City.  Influenced by his close friends Bunuel and Dali, he begins a collection of surrealist poetry, Poet in New York, as well as a surrealist film script, Trip to the Moon.

A Surrealist group forms in Czechoslovakia, featuring the participation of Vitezlav Nezval, Jindrich Styrsky, Karel Teig and Toyen.

Jacques Rigaut commits suicide.

1930  The first issue of  Le Surrealisme au service de la revolution is published.

Several ex-surrealists, including Desnos, Limbour, Baron, Vitrac and Queneau, sign an anti-Breton pamphlet Un Cadavre.

L'Age d'or, a surrealist film by Bunuel (co-written with Dali) is screened, causing a riot.  Several paintings by surrealist artists, which had been exhibited in the lobby of the theater, are destroyed.

Breton and his circle begin creating surrealist objects.  Tzara completes his epic poem Approximate Man, while Breton and Eluard collaborate on The Immaculate Conception.

1931 Countless surrealist objects are created. The Surrealists join the Association des Ecrivains et Artistes Revolutionnaires (The Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists). 

Dali paints The Persistence of Memory.  Breton writes Free Union, perhaps his most famous poem.

1932 Aragon and Georges Sadoul sever ties with the Surrealists because of the conflict between Communism and Surrealism and their dedication to the Communist party. Meret Oppenheim, Victor Brauner, Roger Caillois, Georges Hugnet, Jehan Mayoux, Henri Pastoureau, Guy Rosey, Claude Cahun and J. M. Monnerot joined the group.

Meret Oppenheim, Victor Brauner, Arthur Harfaux, Maurice Henry, Georges Hugnet, Marcel Jean and Gui Rosey, among others, join the Surrealists.

Breton writes Communicating Vessels.

1933 Breton is expelled from The Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists for "refusing to submit to the discipline of self-criticism." 

The final issue of  Le Surrealisme au service de la revolution is published.  Breton takes part in the publication of Minotaure, a glossy magizine, which soon includes the contributions of numerous surrealists.

The group gives a show at the Salon des Surindependants, with artist Wassily Kandinsky as their guest of honor.

1934 Óscar Domínguez, Dora Maar, Richard Oelze, Gisèle Prassinos, Kurt Seligmann, and Brion Gysin joined the group.

A Surrealist group in Egypt forms under the leadership of Georges Henein.

Dali paints Atavistic Vestiges After the Rain and Mae West's Face Which May Be Used as a Surrealist Apartment.    

1935 Wolfgang Paalen, Pierre Mabille, and Jacques-B. Brunius joined the group. Hans Bellmer’s work was published in Minotaure. Bellmer begins creating a series of startling objects, photographs and drawings, which he titles The Doll. The artist continues exploring this theme for several years to come.

Brion Gysin was expelled.  The first Bulletin International du Surrealisme is published in Prague, followed by the second Bulletin International du Surrealisme in Brussels.

The Surrealists take part in the "Contre-Attaque" movement, an anti-facist "Fighting Union of Revolutionary Intellectuals."

Rene Crevel commits suicide. 

1936 Joseph Cornell debuted Rose Hobart. Though Cornell was influenced by the Surrealists and friendly with many of them, he never officially joined the group. Dalí’s negative criticism of Rose Hobart further inspired Cornell to distance himself.

An exhibit of Surrealist Objects is held at the Galerie Ch. Ratton in Paris.

The first international Surrealist exhibition is held in London, featuring the participation of several British Surrealists, including David Gascoyne, Humphrey Jennings, Henry Moore, Hughes Skys Davies, Eileen Agar, Paul Nash and Herbert Read.  The third Bulletin International du Surrealisme is published.

A Surrealist newpaper is developed in Tokyo, Japan, under the direction of Yamanaka.

Dali appears on the cover of Time magazine.  Lorca is shot to death by a Spanish nationalist.

1937 Kay Sage met Tanguy, and Leonora Carrington met Ernst. Also, Remedios Varo settled in Paris with Peret.

Breton's Mad Love is published. Artaud is interned in a mental hospital.

1938 Breton had a falling out with Eluard but reconciled with Masson.

Breton visits Mexico, meeting Leon Trotsky, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo during his stay.  He collaborates with Trotsky on the manifesto Towards a Free Revolutionary Art. Frida Kahlo is often called a Surrealist though she never officially joined. Roberto Matta, Gordon Onslow Ford and Bellmer joined the group.

The second international Surrealist exhibition is held at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  Belgian artist Paul Delvaux, who has created several dream-like paintings, takes part in the show.  A third exhibit is held in Amsterdam. 

Matta joins the Surrealists, while Eluard breaks with the group, devoting himself to Communism.

1939 Dali creates the Dream of Venus Surrealist Funhouse at the World's Fair in New York.  Other Surrealists travel to the United States, including Tanguy and Matta, while Wolfgang Paalen goes to Mexico.  Angered by Dali's self-promotion and commercialism, Breton creates the anagram  "Avida Dollars" for the artist.

Dali is kicked out of the group for multiple reasons including his apparent support of Francisco Franco, his commercialism, and his abrasive personality. The group essentially referred to him as if he were dead. Caillois and Hugnet also left the group.

1940 Wifredo Lam joined the group. An international Surrealist exhibition is held in Mexico. 

Germany invades France, causing many of the Surrealists to disperse.  Some make their way to the United States, while others remain in the country, fighting  for the resistance.  

1941 Breton met Aimé Césaire in Martinique. Soon after, he develops a surrealist magazine Tropiques.Breton, Ernst and Masson emigrate to the United States.  Peret joins Paalen in Mexico.

A Surrealist group emerges in Bucharest. Dali paints Soft Cell Portrait.

1942 An international Surrealist exhibition is held in New York.  The periodical VVV is published by Breton, Duchamp and others.  Breton, Duchamp, Ernst, Calas, and Carrington gained a following in New York with the publication of VVV. Newer members included Dorothea Tanning, Enrico Donati, Charles Duits, David Hare, Robert Lebel, Isabelle and Patrick Waldberg. Other artists directly influenced by the Surrealists in New York include Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes, Alexander Calder, and Frederick Kiesler  join the exiled Surrealists.

A surrealist magazine, Dyn, appears in Mexico. Dali's autobiographical book The Secret Life of Salvador Dali is published. 

1943 The View published the poetry of 15-year-old Philip Lamantia who later became acquainted with Breton and others in New York.

In Brussels, Nouge publishes Rene Magritte ou les Images defendues.

Gilbert-Lecomte dies at the age of 36. Desnos is arrested in France and is ultimately sent to a concentration camp, where he dies two years later. 

1944 Breton and Matta met with Arshile Gorky and highly praise the artist's work. Seligman left the group. Breton meets Arshile Gorky and Rene Daumal dies.  Like his close friend and colleague Gilbert-Lecomte, he is only 36. Dali's novel Hidden Faces is published.

1945 In Mexico, Peret publishes Deshonneur des poetes, a pamphlet against the patriotic poems of Aragon and Eluard, which were being distributed by the underground movement in France during the German occupation.

Dali designs the dream sequence for Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound.

1946 Breton returns to Paris.  Artuad is released from a mental hospital.

1947 An international Surrealist exhibition is held at the Galerie Maeght in Paris.

Breton protests a lecture given by Tristan Tzara, in which the former Dadaist criticizes Surrealism.

Breton's Arcanum 17 is published.

Artaud gives lectures in Paris and writes a radio play, To Have Done With The Judgment Of god.

1948 Peret returns to Paris. International Surrealist exhibitions are held in Prague and Santiago, Chile.

An anti-religion collective manifesto, A la niche, les glapisseurs de dieu, is published, signed by fifty-two Surrealists, including fifteen from the pre-War group.

Dali begins a series of innovative photographs with Phillippe Halsman, including Dali Atomicus and Nude With Popcorn.

Artaud's To Have Done With The Judgment Of god is shelved by French Radio the day before it is scheduled to air, on February 2, 1948.  Artaud dies one month later.

Arshile Gorky commits suicide. Matta, blamed for Gorky’s suicide, is kicked out of the group.

1949 J. Caceres, leader of the Surrealist group in Chile, dies.

Peret completes The Elegant Ewe, an automatically written book he began during the 1920s.

1950 Luis Bunuel reemerges as a prominent film maker with the release of Los Olvidados, shot in Mexico.  While the film is done in the spirit of neorealism, it does contain a memorable dream sequence.

1951 In what was called “The Carrouges affair”, Michel Carrouges, a writer associated with the Surrealists, was found to be a practicing Catholic and was expelled. Maurice Henry, Jacques Hérold, Marcel Jean, Robert Lebel, Patrick Waldberg, and Henri Pastoureau leave the group.

Dali and Phillippe Halsman create the photograph The Skull. Roger Vitrac dies.

1952 Wolfgang Paalen returns to Paris.

Surrealists work on Libertaire, a newspaper of the Anarchist Federation.  An exhibition of Surrealist art is presented in Saarbrucken.

Bunuel directs the film El in Mexico. Paul Eluard dies.

1953 Tanguy is expelled by the Surrealists.

1954 Ernst received the Grand Prix of the Venice Biennale and was subsequently expelled from the group. Dali and Phillippe Halsman publish the book of photographs Dali's Mustache. Francis Picabia dies.

1955 Bunuel directs the film The Criminal Life of Archimboldo de la Cruz in Mexico.

Tanguy dies.

1958 Peret's Natural History is published.

Oscar Dominguez commits suicide.

1959 Jean Benoît and Mimi Parent joined the group. Peret dies.  Paalen commits suicide.

1960 Ted Joans met Breton in Paris. An international Surrealist exhibition is held at the Galerie D. Cordier in Paris.

Breton and his followers protest Marcel Duchamp's decision to accept a painting by Dali at an international Surrealist exhibition in New York.

1961 Bunuel directs Viridiana in Spain.

1962 Bunuel directs The Exterminating Angel in Mexico.

1963 Tristan Tzara dies.

1964 A major surrealist exhibition is held in Paris.  Breton protests, because he was not asked to organize the exhibit.

Dali's Diary of a Genius is published.

1965 Bunuel directs Simon of the Desert in Mexico.

A major exhibition of Richard Oelze's paintings tours Germany.

1966 Andre Breton dies. 

(Over the past forty years, while various groups of surrealists have continued to appear throughout the world, in the eyes of many, Surrealism, as an organized movement, ended with the death of Breton.)

1967 Bunuel directs Belle de Jour in Paris. Rene Magritte and Paul Nouge die.

1968 Dali's Open Letter to Salvador Dali is published.

Marcel Duchamp dies.

1969 An Autobiography of Surrealism, which features a series of interviews with Andre Breton, is published.

Bunuel directs The Milky Way.

1970 Soft Cell Portrait, a documentary about Dali, is released.  The film is narrated by Orson Welles.

1972 Bunuel's film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

1973 The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali, a book of "confessions" as told to Andre Parinaud, is published.

1974 The Dali Theater Museum in Figueres opens. Bunuel directs The Phantom of Liberty.

1975 Hans Bellmer dies.

1976 Max Ernst and Raymond Queneau die.

1977 Man Ray dies.

1983 Bunuel writes his autobiography My Last Sigh.  He dies a few months later. Joan Miro dies.

1989 Salvador Dali dies.

1990 Michel Leiris dies.

1994 Paul Delvaux dies.

2003 The library, art work and other historical treasures that were part of Andre Breton's apartment on 42 Rue Fontaine in Paris, are sadly auctioned off, dispersing the legacy of the Surrealist Movement.  Among the items are more than 500 sheets of paper noting down the utterances emanating from the sessions of hypnotic sleep in 1922, as well as a 1924 copy of the Surrealist Manifesto, signed by Breton, Paul Eluard and Louis Aragon.  An original 1928 edition of Nadja is also included, along with letters from the Nadja, whom Breton had fallen in love with two years earlier.

2008 The original Surrealist Manifesto by Andre Breton is auctioned off in Paris, selling, along with several other documents, for 3.2 million Euros (more than 5 million dollars).  The work is now displayed in the privately-owned Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris.

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