Surrealism through lyrical writing

On 16 July 2019, by Anne Foster

Une vague de rêves ("A wave of dreams") is not only a definition of the Surrealist movement. The copy from the library of Geneviève and Jean-Paul Kahn, to be sold by Pierre Bergé & Associés, illustrates this invitation to dreams and freedom.

Louis Aragon (1897-1982), Une vague de rêves (A wave of dreams), 1924, first edition of the Commerce review separate issue, with an autograph envoi to Pierre Mac Orlan, in-4o; black half-morocco binding with raised bands, each side covered with an original silver halide photograph, with gilt and mosaic decoration by Paul Bonet, 1938.
Estimate: €40,000/50,000.

From cupped mains emerges first a head, then an eruption of coils that join to form a face haloed with stars: a sublimation of the painful process of giving birth. The binding created by Paul Bonet makes poetic allusion to the lyrical text by Aragon. These thirty-odd pages make up the first Surrealism manifesto, published some time before André Breton's more dogmatic, structured version. They invite the reader to "other relationships than reality that can be grasped by the mind and are basic as well, like chance, illusion, fantasy or dreams. These various types are united and reconciled in a genre: Surreality." In a few words, Aragon encapsulated the movement he helped to found. The adjective "Surrealist" first appeared in 1919. Four years later, Aragon felt the term should be clearly asserted, saying "The meaning of the word needs to be established. The task falls to me." Attacked by the Dadaists (with whom they had shared a path for a while), the Surrealists were themselves prey to existential ponderings. Breton abandoned writing; Éluard mysteriously disappeared; Aragon was sidelined because of his journalistic and literary activities. He wrote novels, a genre Breton despised and rejected: only the roman noir and a few fantasy novel writers like Pierre Mac Orlan found favour in his eyes. As a pioneer, Aragon expressed his commitment to the Surrealist movement through this "manifesto". He described its birth, paying tribute to writers and artists like Saint-Pol-Roux, Raymond Roussel, Saint-John Perse, Picasso and De Chirico as "presidents of the Republic of Dreams. And now the dreamers": friends like Éluard, Soupault and Man Ray – all those for whom "freedom, that magnificent word, has reached the point where it takes on true meaning for the first time: freedom begins where the marvellous is born." Words that inspired Paul Bonet to create this fantastic binding…

Livres, manuscrits, photographies, dessins, collages : collection Geneviève et Jean-Paul Kahn
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