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Manuscript for a presentation of the exhibition L'œuvre du vingtième siècle (‘Art of the Twentieth Century’) organised by the Musée d'art moderne, Paris, dated 10 May 1952, which was published in Arts and reprinted in Le Surréalisme et la Peinture under the title ‘125 œuvres de haut vol au musée d'Art moderne’ (‘125 Works of High-Quality at the Museum of Modern Art’).

With this presentation of the exhibition mounted by the Musée d'Art Moderne under the title Art of the Twentieth Century, Breton is taking some sort of revenge on history, or more precisely against a certain institutional reading of art history, which, up until the beginning of the 1950s, lagged far behind his own tastes. The exhibition served as a prelude to the recognition by the major museums of works he had championed for over thirty years. [Atelier André Breton website, 2005]

Autograph manuscript, signed Paris, 10 May 1952.
- 2 1/2 pages in 4°, folioed, manuscript titled, dated, and signed by André Breton relating to this exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
“We are indebted to James Johnson Sweeney for his selection – although he might not agree with this term – of the paintings and sculptures that constitute the exhibition L'œuvre du XXe siècle at the Musée d'Art moderne. Without doubt, Paris has never seen anything so necessary, in every sense, nor so far-reaching [...] "
Pointing to the shameful fact that "at the beginning of this century (to go no further) the negligence of the Ministry of Fine Arts was such that the majority of the masterpieces produced in the contemporary period have ended up abroad," Breton continues his tribute: 
"Above all, we need only consider that in Paris to date there has been nothing shown of the work of Marcel Duchamp, an outstanding visionary and the only artist who can be claimed as one of their own by all the great movements (Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstractionism) that have shaken the art world for the last forty years.
"Thanks to J.J. Sweeney [...] by visiting the exhibition L'œuvre du XXe siècle, it is possible to rectify the most serious omissions. [....]
"I have recently been informed that the State is intending to spend half a million on the purchase of a papier collé by Braque. The only objection to be made is that in at public auction some thirty years ago a wide selection of papiers collés by this artist sold for between fifty and two hundred francs.”
Some erasures and corrections. [Sale Catalogue, 2003].



André Breton (Édition publiée sous la direction d'Étienne-Alain Hubert avec la collaboration de Philippe Bernier et Marie-Claire Dumas), « 125 œuvres de haut vol au musée d'Art moderne », Le Surréalisme et la Peinture, Œuvres complètes, tome IV, Écrits sur l'art et autres textes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, Gallimard, 2008, p. 770-774, notice p. 1367-1369


Creation date10-mai-52
Date of publication 15/05/1952
Physical description

Ms - encres noire et rouge
2 pages 1/2 in 4°

Breton Auction, 2003Lot 2344
Keywords, , ,
CategoriesManuscripts, Andre Breton's Manuscripts
Set[Breton's Manuscripts and Drawings] dossier Le Surréalisme et la peinture, [Revue] Arts
ExhibitionL'œuvre du XXe siècle
Permanent link
Exhibition place