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Two manuscript versions of an article by Breton on the ‘mediumistic painter’ Joseph Crépin. The article would be published in Arts in June 1954 before being republished in Surrealism and Painting in 1965.

Taking up once more the thread of an article written in 1948, André Breton published an article in Arts, June 1954, about the ‘mediumistic painter’ Joseph Crépin, that would be republished in Surrealism and Painting. In it he announces an exhibition devoted to the painter at galerie Voyelles, and offers a broad commentary on a body of work and an artistic personality that are disconcerting, to say the least. The following year Breton would organise a new exhibition of works by Crépin at the à l’ Étoile scellée gallery, travelling in person, with Charles Estienne, to fetch the exhibits from Montigny-en-Gohelle.

His interest in Crépin was as much personal as aesthetic, as reflected in his text that has a marked documentary aspect in comparison to his other critical writings. Indeed, the notion of the sacred alone could not account for a body of work associated with a form of apprehending the world and with a way of life that require description rather than commentary. [Atelier André Breton website, 2005]


Signed handwritten manuscripts, undated [1948-1954].
5 small numbered in-4° pages of a titled and signed manuscript by Breton with deletions and corrections of the first draft of this text devoted to the painter Joseph Crépin.
5 in-4° numbered pages cut into 8 strips, of a titled and signed manuscript by André Breton of the final version of the text:
‘It must be admitted that only very few such compositions satisfy fully this exacting standard […]. The creations of Joseph Crépin, which were first revealed to me in 1948 on the occasion of the very first collective exhibition of 'art brut’, belong unquestionably to this class of work. In this case, as in the others mentioned above, we are confronted, it must be remembered, with works which are not amenable to the premises of professional criticism for the excellent reason that, as the authors themselves agree, they are purely and simply transmissions of a message which has been received, and that consequently the hand which transcribes this message considers itself to be constantly guided.’ New edition of Le Surréalisme et la peinture, Gallimard, 1965. [Auction catalogue, 2003] 


Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski


André Breton, « Un peintre médium, Joseph Crépin (1875-1948) », Combat-Art, 14 juin 1954.

André Breton (Édition publiée sous la direction d'Étienne-Alain Hubert avec la collaboration de Philippe Bernier et Marie-Claire Dumas), « Joseph Crépin », Le Surréalisme et la peinture, Œuvres complètes, tome IV, Écrits sur l'art et autres textes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 2008, p. 710-719, notes p.1355-1357.


Creation datesd [1948-1954]
Bibliographical material

André Breton, ‘Un peintre médium, Joseph Crépin (1875-1948)’, Combat-Art, 14th June 1954.

André Breton, ‘Joseph Crépin’, Le Surréalisme et la peinture, Œuvres complètes, volume IV, Écrits sur l'art et autres textes (edition established by Marguerite Bonnet and edited by Étienne-Alain Hubert with contributions from Philippe Bernier and Marie-Claire Dumas), Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 2008, pp. 710-19, notes pp.1355-57.

Date of publication 1954

Musée Lam de Lille Métropole, Villeneuve d'Ascq : Inv: 2003.7.39

Musée Lam de Lille Métropole, Villeneuve d'Ascq : Inv: 2003.7.40

Breton Auction, 2003Lot 2406
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CategoriesArchives, Archival Documents, Manuscripts, Andre Breton's Manuscripts
Set[Breton's Manuscripts and Drawings] dossier Le Surréalisme et la peinture
Exhibition2024 Le Surréalisme d'abord et toujours, MNAM Centre Pompidou | Centenaire du Manifeste du surréalisme
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