In 1924, both André Breton's Manifeste du Surréalisme (Surrealist Manifesto) and the journal La Révolution surréaliste were published, arousing great interest. The break with Dada became pronounced after both Francis Picabia and Tristan Tzara distanced themselves from the movement. The surrealists quickly emerged as an organised group, with writers, poets and artists coming from Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland and Spain to join the Paris–based group. Beyond France, other surrealist groups emerged, for example, in Belgium, where René Magritte’s work came to exemplify a particular type of surrealist painting.

In 1925, the first instalment of Breton’s ‘Surrealism and Painting’ appeared in LaRévolutionsurréaliste, and proposed a surrealist aesthetic which was exemplified by the work of Victor Brauner, Joan Miró and Yves Tanguy, among others. The game Exquisite Corpse was increasingly popular among the surrealists from around 1926, as was the practice of ‘automatic’ drawing or writing, both activities privileging the role of chance in creating images and text.

The Bureau of Surrealist Research was established in 1924, with official premises where the surrealists congregated daily for intellectual discussion and debate. Numerous pamphlets and provocative flyers outlined the surrealist cause. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis increasingly informed Surrealism’s central tenets, with the ‘interior model’ of the unconscious perceived as the site of creative freedom and revolution.

In this period, political allegiances were hotly debated. Some felt that membership of the French Communist Party was an essential requirement for those in the surrealist group, while others insisted that art required independence from party politics. Breton’s Second Surrealist Manifesto was published in 1929, renewing calls for political engagement and causing further division.