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The Studio, by André Breton

« Here we are in Montmartre, right next to Place Blanche where the Moulin Rouge hides behind a carnival ride this time of year. At the end of a long corridor passing the stage door entrance to the American Club Theater we crossed a courtyard, making our way through the stage sets young people were painting as fast as they could for a new play. When the concierge told us that Mr Breton lived on the third and a half floor, we wondered worriedly if his studio was going to be like the dwelling of the famous poet Alfred Jarry, who wrote Ubu Roi, where the ceiling was so low that he couldn't stand up straight. The building was old enough for that, and the stairway with its landings strangely staggered between floors gave the impression that anything was possible. But how could Breton have lived here for almost 30 years? [...]

« Now that we're here we breathe easier. The atelier's high, wide window opens on a tree-lined boulevard. People who write about Surrealism always like to point out that Breton's studio is located between the two Montmartre cabarets called Le Ciel (Heaven) and L'Enfer (Hell). Actually, Hell has been closed since the last war. Just the other side of the boulevard is the celebrated Caveau du Chat Noir (Black Cat's Cellar), where the greatest poets of the late 19th century gathered, many of whom also happened to be that epoch's most flamboyant Bohemians. But we haven't come to look out the window. A whole corner of the room is covered with books. At a furtive glance, we see books of poetry and more books of poetry along with the collected works of Hegel and Freud, sociological tomes, piles of ethnological studies and a few books on the occult. On the walls, paintings by de Chirico, Max Ernst, Picasso, Miró. A particular taste for so-called "naive" art. [...] And for the artistic output of schizophrenics (Breton confides that he admires Prinzhorn, the author of Bildnerei der Geisteskrauken, who was the first to praise this kind of work). A collection of ethnographic objects attesting to a predilection for South Pacific and American Indian art overflows into the next room, where Breton shows off a whole panel of Eskimo masks facing another panel of Hopi katchina dolls he had collected one by one on Arizona reservations. [...] One showcase of humming birds, another large enough to hold several birds of paradise, a New Guinea argus and a lyre bird. There is no time to pursue our inspection further. Hurriedly we urge the poet to his worktable, nicely piled with heaps of papers and books just like everything else. How could he possibly write here? »

The poet left his worktable one evening in the fall of 1966. The doors of the studio on Rue Fontaine closed behind him. Today they are opening up once again.