PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Sergei Diaghilev, director of the Ballets Russes, emigrated to France in 1911. Always in search of innovations, he created a surrealist version of Romeo and Juliet in 1926, for which he commissioned Max Ernst and Joan Miró to create the sets. The poets Louis Aragon and André Breton, who regarded themselves as the leaders of the surrealists, felt that deriving financial rewards from a surrealist creation was against the principles of the movement, and accused Ernst and Miró of selling out to the “international aristocracy.” At the première of the ballet at the Opéra in Paris, Aragon and Breton, seated in the balcony, started a riot by noisily showering the audience with this double-sided leaflet printed in flaming red.
In fall 2011, Thomas and Antonia Bryson (class of ’72 and ’74) donated one of these rare and historically significant leaflets to the Brown University Library, where it joins over two thousand books, programs, playbills, photos and documents in the Bryson Dance Collection. Detailed information about each item in the collection can be found in Josiah under the author Bryson Dance Collection (Brown University).
English translation by Stéphanie Ravillon’s translation course, FREN1510.1:
It is unacceptable that thought be subservient to
money. And yet, not a year goes by without the
submission of a man considered to be indomitable to
the forces that he once opposed. Regardless of the
individuals who succumb in this manner to existing
social conditions, the idea that they claimed to support
before this abdication endures beyond them.
It is in this sense that the participation of the painters
Max Ernst and Joan Miró in the upcoming
production of the Ballets Russes would not implicate
the surrealist idea along with their degradation. It is an
essentially subversive idea, incompatible with
such enterprises, whose aim has always been to
domesticate, for the profit of the international
aristocracy, the reveries and the revolts born of
physical and intellectual famine.
It may have seemed to Ernst and Miró that their
collaboration with Diaghilev, legitimized by
Picasso’s example, would not have such grave
consequences. Yet we are placed under the
obligation–we whose primary concern has always
been to keep progressive thought out of reach of slave
traders of all sorts–we are placed under the obligation
to denounce, without consideration of the individuals
involved, an attitude that gives arms to the worst
partisans of moral ambiguity.
It is known that we make very little of our artistic
affinities with one person or another. Do us the honor
of believing that in 1926 we are more incapable than
ever of sacrificing to these affinities our sense of
Louis ARAGON – André BRETON”
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