Influenced by Éric Satie, whom he met in 1918, E.LT. Mesens first wanted to be a musician. He composed two scores, Danse pour piano (1920) and Garage (1921), for voice and piano, based on a poem by Philippe Soupault, and performed a concert in Brussels. But Mesens quit composing music when he heard that it was poorly regarded by André Breton, who wrote, "Que la nuit continue de tomber sur l'orchestre" (May night continue to descend on the orchestra), in Surrealism and Painting. Together, Mesens and Magritte founded two reviews, Œsophage, in 1925, which lasted one issue; and Marie, in 1926, a "bimonthly journal for beautiful youth," which lasted four issues. While being the admirable poet of the collections Alphabet Sourd-aveugle (1933, prefaced and annotated by Paul Éluard) and Femme complete (1933), Mesens was also effective in help-ing his surrealist friends via his initiative as director of the Galerie La Licorne and Éditions Nicolas Flamel. He produced special issues of Variétés (1929) and Documents 34 on surrealism, and published a small collective book in tribute to the young patricide, Violette Nozières. His position as secretary at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, in 1934, allowed him to extend the range of his artistic influence. In 1938 Mesens moved to London, where, with Roland Penrose and J.B. Brunius, he became one of the prime champions of surrealism in England, directing the London Gallery and publishing the review London Bulletin, which lasted twenty issues. In 1941, during the war, he began a collaboration with the BBC, and wrote the militant poems of Troisiéme Front (London Gallery Editions, 1944). After the war, Mesens went through an intense period of activity—making collages, attracting attention at the Venice Biennial in 1954, and leading up to his major exhibition of collages at Knokke-het Zoute, in 1963. Mesens' collages, unlike those of many other artists, did not imitate Max Ernst. Using a variety of materials (typographical signs, cutout illustrations), he created varied images in a highly personal style (La Partition compléte, 1945, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels). Patrick Waldberg, celebrating Mesen's art de vivre, left this description of him: "All his life he unfolded the legend of surrealism to astonished waitresses and indifferent barmen until that undetermined hour when lions go watering."
Born 1903 and died 1971 in Brussels.
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