E.L.T. Mesens : his contribution to the Dada and Surrealist movements in Belgium and England as artist, poet and dealer
The aim of this thesis is to provide a survey of E.L.T Mesens' activities within the Dada and Surrealist movements and an initial assessment of his work. The thesis outlines Mesens' career and considers his work as an organiser and polemicist of the Dada and Surrealist movements in Belgium and the Surrealist movement in England. The period in which Mesens initiated Dada activities in Brussels and developed important contacts with Paris, though brief, affected his whole outlook on art and poetry. The development of Dada and the work of a number of European Dadaists whose work influenced Mesens' own development and the Dada movement in Antwerp and Brussels is discussed. Differences emerged between the theory and practice of Surrealism in Paris and Brussels and the thesis considers the diverging development of Surrealism in each of these centres. Mesens' involvement in the Surrealist movement in Belgium is examined and his theoretical position is appraised. The thesis also briefly outlines late nineteenth and early twentieth century art movements in Belgium, in particular Symbolism and Expressionism, in order that the Dada and Surrealist movements may be seen in context. Mesens' main efforts were concentrated in his work as an art dealer in Brussels and London, where he promoted the work of Dada and Surrealist artists in particular. From 1954 onwards, however, he turned to the making of collage, a medium which he hod already explored during the 1920's. The thesis will provide an examination of Mesens' work as an art dealer in Belgium between 1928 and 1938, and in England between 1938 and 1950. It will provide an analysis of Mesens' poetry, mostly written between 1923 and 1940, and his collages both of the early period in the 1920's, and later from 1954 until his death in April 1971.