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Description - Surrealism and the Exotic by Louise Tythacott

'Surrealism is allied with peoples of colour, first because it has sided with them against all forms of imperialism and white brigandage and second because of the profound affinities between surrealism and primitive thought. Both envision the abolition of the hegemony of the conscious and the everyday, leading to the conquest of revelatory emotion.' Andr? Breton, 1945, interview with Ren? B?lance The influence of the primitive on Surrealism has been largely ignored by classical accounts of the movement; yet exoticism lies at the very heart of surrealism's distinctive aesthetic. The artistic prot?g?s at the forefront of the avant garde - including Andr? Breton, Max Ernst and Georges Bataille - were themselves lyrical advocates of their own imaginative debt to esoteric cultures; eager voyagers not simply of the unconscious landscape but of its perceived material parallel, exotic art. Part documentary narrative and part sustained critique, Surrealism and the Exotic is the story of the obsessive mutual relationship between the surrealist intellect and non-western culture.
Describing the distant travels across Africa, Oceania, Mexico and the Caribbean made by wealthy young aesthetes hungry for exotic items, it combines a fascinating insight into the buccaneer mentality of early 20th century collectors with a comprehensive overview of the artistic heritage at stake in these adventures. Featuring more than 70 photographs of artefacts, exhibitions and expeditions-in-progress, it raises controversial questions about material desire, artistic representation and the exploitative nature of fantasy. Why was the primitivist aesthetic now associated with Picasso and Gauguin still so influential to the educated twentieth-century mind? Was surrealism's interest in the exotic really the act of cultural democracy that Breton believed? By proclaiming the exotic as a conquest of emotionalism over imperialism, did surrealism secretly perpetuate the powerful western ideals that legitimised violence on the basis of primitive culture's perceived childishness? Or did the art truly hold some form of semi-occult power, some ecstatic sign to set the unconscious free?
This lively, intimate portrait is a must-read for anyone interested in global art or the heady world of the surrealist intelligentsia. Bringing to life the climate of licencious hedonism enjoyed by Breton, Ernst, Durkheim, Mauss, and the notorious dissident surrealists Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris, it is an unparalleled introduction to the Surrealist movement and to French thought and culture in the 1920s and 30s.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415276375
ISBN-10: 0415276373
Format: Hardback
(234mm x 156mm x mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Routledge
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 30-Jan-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Louise Tythacott

Louise Tythacott is a curator at Liverpool Museum. She was formerly a guide at Brighton Pavilion and a postgraduate researcher at Hong Kong University

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