The Surrealism Website
Marcel Jean (1900-1993)
Marcel Jean was born in La Charité-sur-Loire. He studied at the École nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and in 1924 moved to the USA to work as a textile designer. Two years later Jean returned to Paris, where his interest in Surrealism developed and he subscribed to the journal Révolution surréaliste directed by André Breton. He joined the movement in 1933, when he befriended the Breton, Paul Eluard, Benjamin Péret and René Crevel. From that moment onwards he participated in Surrealist meetings, exhibitions and publications, becoming one of the first chroniclers of the movement. Between 1938 and 1944 he worked and taught in Budapest, choosing to remain there until the war ended, instead of returning to German-occupied Paris.
In 1936 he collaborated with Oscar Dominguez on Grisou, an anthology of images evoking the creation of the world, and participated in the Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 1945 with Arpad Mezei he published Maldoror and two years later he participated in the notorious Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme at the Galerie Maeght in Paris.
In the 1950s Jean embarked on an extensive analysis of the surrealist movement with his Histoire de la peinture surréaliste. Jean became an important scholar of surrealism, being invited to lecture on the subject at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1978 he published an anthology of surrealist writings, The Autobiography of Surrealism.