T03807 I SALUTED AT SIX PACES COMMANDER LEFEBVRE DES NOËTTES (poem object) 1942
Collage of printed colour postcard, black paper, silver paint, silk thread, silver sequins 13 1/2 × 9 3/8 (340 × 250)
Inscribed ‘J’ AI SALUé à SIX PAS/LE COMMANDANT LEFEBVRE DES NOëTTES' t.r., ‘ET CACHé’ t.centre, ‘JACK L'éVENTREUR’ centre, ‘BRAVAIT LE HIBOU/TOUJOURS CLOUé’ lower l., ‘LA VIE’ lower r., and ‘ET SE REPARFUMAIT à LA TABLE MAGIQUE’ across bottom
Purchased from John Armbruster (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Prov: Mrs Jacqueline Lamba Breton; John Armbruster
Lit: Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, exhibition catalogue, Hayward Gallery, 1978, p.388
This poem object is one of an edition of about twenty (although originally advertised as fifty) published by the New York Surrealist magazine VVV where Breton acted as joint literary adviser with Max Ernst.
The poem object was sold as part of a portfolio of eleven original works; etchings, frottage and objects by André Breton, Alexander Calder, Leonora Carrington, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, David Hare, André Masson, Matta, Robert Motherwell, Kurt Seligmann and Yves Tanguy. The portfolio was intended to raise money for further numbers of VVV.
According to a letter to the Tate from John Armbruster, the previous owner, each one of the poem objects was individually assembled by Breton who used different coloured papers and slightly varied the composition. The Tate's version is inscribed on the back by André Breton's second wife, Jacqueline Lamba Breton:
Poème objet d'André Breton créé à partir d'une carte postale Trouvée à New York en 1942 et donnée à Jacqueline LAMBA Breton dans le même temps.
There is another version of ‘I saluted at six paces Commander Lefebvre des Noëttes’ in the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, and a plan for the work, dated 1943, is illustrated in André Breton's What is Surrealism?, Selected Writings, ed. Franklin Rosemont, 1978, p.302. André Breton began making poem objects in 1929 and in the same year defined the procedure as:
Combining the resources of poetry and sculpture and in speculating on their reciprocal powers of exaltation (Jose Pierre (ed.), Dictionary of Surrealism, 1974).
Breton explains his method of composition for a poem object in an essay of 1942 included in André Breton, Surrealism and Painting, London, 1972, pp.284–5.
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986