This 2005 study traces the development of Surrealist theory of visual art and its reception, from the birth of Surrealism to its institutionalization in the mid-1930s. Situating Surrealist art theory in its theoretical and discursive contexts, Kim Grant demonstrates the complex interplay between Surrealism and contemporary art criticism. She examines the challenge to Surrealist art raised by the magazine Cahiers d'Art, which promoted a group of young painters dedicated to a liberated and poetic painting process that was in keeping with the formalist evolution of modern art. Grant also discusses the centrality of visual art in Surrealism as a material manifestation of poetry, the significance of poetry in French theories of modern art, and the difficulties faced by an avant-garde art movement at a time when contemporary audiences had come to expect revolutionary innovation.
Part I. Poetry in the Theory and Criticism of Modern Painting in France: 1. The tradition of poetry and lyricism in French art criticism; 2. Modern painting as poetic language; 3. The discovery of lyricism; 4. Andre Breton and modern art; Part II. Establishing a Surrealist Visual Art: 5. Defining Surrealism; 6. Defining Surrealist visual art; 7. Surrealism and painting I: the foundation of Surrealist art; 8. La Peinture Surrealiste: the presentation of Surrealist art and its reception; 9. Surrealism and painting II: materialism and morality; Part III. The Threat of Surrealist Art: 10. Initiating the challenge; 11. Surrealism and painting III: avoiding automatism; 12. Appropriating automatism; 13. Realism and Surrealism; Part IV. Poetry Made Concrete: 14. Defying painting; 15. Remaking reality; 16. Automatic style; 17. Conclusion: Surrealism as an institution.