The surrealist movement in Belgium is often associated with figures like René Magritte and Paul Delvaux. Yet surrealism was practised and preached by many other original artists who have received little recognition. Men like Paul Nougé, Marcel Mariën or Tom Gutt, for instance, were the representatives of three generations of Belgian surrealism in its various incarnations.
In Brussels, almost in parallel with André Bretons Parisian movement, a tentative yet subversive and highly political form of surrealism saw the light of day in 1924 under the leadership of Paul Nougé. Magritte and Nougé set out to conquer and reform the world, beginning with basics like the structure of language and the imagination.
Another group formed ten years later in the Hainaut. Achille Chavée and Fernand Dumont were less hungry for recognition from André Breton, but the collaboration between French and Belgian surrealists was none the less fruitful; the Belgian movement, in fact, became one of the most intriguing in any country.
Surrealism in Belgium is a sequel to Marcel Mariëns 1979 study (L’activité surréaliste en Belgique 1924-1950), focusing on artists of the second half of the 20th century. Through a wealth of illustrations and quotes from publications, specialist magazines, essays and other often previously unpublished material, this volume retraces in detail Belgiums foremost artistic current in the 1900s.
Xavier Canonne is an art historian and has been Director of the Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi since 2000. He is the author of several publications on Belgian surrealism.