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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Eye of the Poet

André Breton and the Visual Arts

Illustrated throughout, a revealing look at the life and work of surrealist artist and collector André Breton.
This is the first comprehensive study in English of surrealist leader André Breton’s lifelong commitment to the visual arts. As an essayist, art critic, collector, gallery director, and artist, he actively promoted many painters, from turn-of-the-century Moreau and outsider artists to fellow surrealists like Ernst and Masson.
The book tracks both the development of Breton’s surrealist aesthetics within the Parisian avant-garde art scene and the centrality of art to his political agenda. It also highlights Breton the collector and collagist—the works he displayed in his Paris apartment, ranging from Oceanic masks to African sculptures, paintings to pebbles, are themselves seen as an ever-changing assemblage.

256 pages | 50 color plates, 97 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4

Biography and Letters


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"An engaging, informed, often shrewd introduction to a central figure of twentieth-century thought. Though Adamowicz focuses mainly on Breton’s multifaceted relationship with the visual arts, her discussion embraces many of the dimensions—political, literary, social, philosophical—that make Surrealism, still today, among the most vibrant and relevant approaches to life in all its complexity."

Mark Polizzotti, author of "Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton"

“An excellent overview of André Breton as the leader of the surrealist movement as a collective experiment with writing and visual art in equal measure that dominated the avant-garde in the twentieth century. This book should become an essential reference for anyone interested in surrealism.”

Kate Conley, professor of French & Francophone studies, William & Mary

"Perceptive and highly engaging, The Eye of the Poet reveals André Breton in his many guises: as a brilliant writer, theorist, and polemicist, as the Surrealists’ charismatic and pugnacious leader, as an astute art collector and ethnographer, and as an artist in his own right. Adamowicz’s compelling narrative confirms the enduring fascination that Breton commands as Surrealism approaches its first century."

Eric Robertson, professor of modern French literary and visual culture, Royal Holloway, University of London

“This book manages to be both concise and comprehensive, giving the reader an excellent sense of the scope, variety, and contradictions of Breton’s interactions with artists, art practices, and artworks. Though informed by a deep and detailed scholarly background in the field, it is a lively and engaging read, offering a new perspective on both Breton himself and the vagaries of the visual arts as a category of surrealist activity.”

Johanna Malt, professor of French literature & visual culture, King's College London

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