Julia Drost

The dream of money. Surrealism and the Parisian art market in the interwar period

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Opposed to most historical avant-gardes in the early 20th century, Surrealism, at least in the interwar period, managed to do without the help of any strong merchant or art dealer. Under the leadership of André Breton, Surrealism intended to implement its own mechanisms for promotion, sales and exhibitions by opening its own art gallery, editing house and publishing its own reviews in journals and newspapers. However, this seemed to have been insufficient. As a consequence, artists developed their own strategies. How did the primary market work in which art by Max Ernst, Miro or Dalí was first sold? How did their oeuvres find their way out of the galleries and onto the walls of collectors? What were the selling modalities and prices, respectively: which merchants and dealers were representing these works? And finally: which strategies did these artists use in order to succeed professionally? This contribution intends to retrace the functioning of the primary surrealist art market in the interwar period.

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