Astrological chart of Benjamin Péret by André Breton, dating from 1926 to 1930.
Together with the other astrological charts, this document represents one of the most important pieces from André Breton's archive. Not being discovered until 2003, it proves that Breton's interest in astrology might have taken on a more committed form than previously known. Dreaming about someone’s future in relation to the influence of their social or accidental determinations appears to have already been emerging in the 1922 "period of sleeping fits", during which, stimulated by the repeated questions of his friends, Robert Desnos was making some unusual predictions.
‘The Letter to the Seers’ of 1925 saw André Breton become more fully involve in developing an increasingly meticulous study, a method that might not seem very credible to a modern mind. But was it not a question, as early as the 1924 Manifesto, of breaking with the scientific spirit, whose aporias and deficiencies were all too obvious? From that point on, astrology and, more broadly, the alchemical tradition become an alternative culture, in the same way as myth: it was not a question of establishing a belief to which one would have to adhere, but of suggesting another way of seeing - approaching the enigmas of the world in a heterodox way, potentially rich in discoveries, especially in language.
Therefrom, André Breton gradually became interested in the derided practices of palmists, clairvoyants, and astrologers, though he always claimed that for him it was only a question of examining the beliefs of others. However, these astrological charts, which require a certain technical skill, nevertheless prove that he was tempted to make the leap from intellectual interest to belief. If they have remained discreetly filed in his personal archives, it is undoubtedly because this belief never permanently took hold, experienced as a temptation, not as a faith.
Another stage of his interest in how ‘clairvoyance’ is acquired can be seen in the Tarot de Marseille deck at the beginning of the 1940s, prior to the ‘Surrealism In 1947’ exhibition. This exhibition gave rise to some controversy, particularly with the ‘Revolutionary Surrealists’, due to the religious dimension of the pieces on display (the altars, the references to myth, etc.). Finally, in the 1950s, André Breton became more openly involved with magic and occultism, though continued to take a cultural approach: L'Art magique (1957) is a paradoxical step in this respect, taking, as it does, his interest in what is fundamentally irrational in art to its peak, to the point of positing an equivalence between ‘magic’ and Surrealist art as an inner experience. [Atelier André Breton website, 2005]
Astrological Chart, undated [circa 1926-1930].
- 1 page in-4°, astrological chart in ink of Benjamin Péret by André Breton (staining). [Sale Catalogue, 2003]
|Creation date||circa 1926 - 1930|
1 page in-4° - MS - red, black and green inks; pencil on white paper.
|Number of pages||1 p.|
|Breton Auction, 2003||Lot 2118|
|Categories||Archives, Andre Breton's Manuscripts|
|Set||[AB's Manuscripts] Thèmes astrologiques|