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PRINT December 1983

DISPENSABLE FRIENDS, INDISPENSABLE IDEOLOGIES: ANDRE BRÉTON’S SURREALISM

SURREALISM HAS RIPENED INTO a burdensome, slightly blowsy cliché, mechanically used in much “new” art. Its manifestos have become all too official and academic; the movement has suffered more than most from popular success. Where abstract art derived from Cubism became boring through interminable refinement of the plane, representational art derived from Surrealism became boring by relying on a one-dimensional, overfamiliar, unrefined concept of the unconscious. Only attention to the combative, hypnotic personality of Surrealism’s leader can restore our sense of the complexity and energy of its revolt. Today one turns to André Breton because he reminds us that art is a personal matter as much as an objective phenomenon; it is about the attaining of an attitude to life as much as the making of special, superior objects. If there is anything worth preserving in Surrealism, beyond the clichés

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