Gisèle Prassinos Reading her Poems to the Surrealists
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2004

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Gisèle Prassinos Reading her Poems to the Surrealists 1934
Man Ray was one of the most versatile of the surrealist photographers, producing experimental montages, portraits and documentary photographs of 'historic' moments. In this image, the fourteen-year-old schoolgirl Gisèle Prassinos reads her poems to members of the surrealist group, including André Breton and Paul Eluard (both seated). Her older brother had discovered her poems and stories which, according to Prassinos, had been written 'automatically' (that is without conscious control) and without any knowledge of contemporary poetry or Surrealism. This photograph was used as the frontispiece to Prassinos's book of poems, 'La Sauterelle arthritique' (The Arthritic Grasshopper), published in 1935.

Glossary Open

Automatism

A painting or drawing process that aims to suppress rational thought, allowing the subconscious to take control. This spontaneous approach is associated with Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.

Frontispiece

An illustration at the front of a book, usually opposite the title page.

Montage

Forming one artwork by combining other works or pieces of them.

Surrealism

A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Automatism, Frontispiece, Montage, Surrealism

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 4001
  • Medium Silver gelatine print
  • Size 17.70 x 22.70 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Gabrielle Keiller 1995