With his taste for collecting and his bibliophilia, the poet Paul Éluard helped encourage surrealist artists almost as much as Breton. In 1912 he interrupted his studies at the Collège Colbert in Paris to enter a tuberculosis sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland, where he met Hélène Diakovna (Gala), whom he married in 1917. Joining the Littérature group in 1920, he was one of the most brilliant companions of Dadaism and surrealism. In 1930, after Gala left him for Salvador Dalí, Éluard married Maria Benz, known as Nusch, to whom he dedicated his most beautiful poems, such as those of Facile (1935), illustrated with Man Ray's nude photographs of her. Many of Éluard's books benefited from outstanding illustrations, including Les Yeux Fertiles (1936), with images by Picasso. In 1936 Éluard opened the International Surrealist Exhibition, in London, with a lecture titled, "L'Évidence poetique," and a subsequent lecture in Paris with a speech "L'Avenir de la poésie." He made several collages, including À chacun sa colère (1937). The painters he particularly championed were Max Ernst, Picasso, Valentine Hugo, Delvaux, Bellmer, May Ray and Dominguez. When, in 1938, he parted ways with the surrealists to embrace Communism, Max Ernst refused to join in Breton's condemnation of him. During the war, he participated in a clandestine literary movement and directed the Comité national des Écrivains. After the Liberation he became an official poet of the Communist Party and frequently traveled in the Eastern countries and the USSR. The museum of Saint-Denis, where many of his documents are held, organized an exhibition in 1963 illustrating Éluard's prodigious activity in the arts.
Born 1895 in Saint-Denis, France; died 1952 in Paris.
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