MinotaureLavish covers and literati contributors: the lasting mystique of a 1930s Parisian periodical.

MinotaureLavish covers and literati contributors: the lasting mystique of a 1930s Parisian periodical.

In 1933, a Swiss publisher by the name of Albert Skira moved to Paris looking to launch an avantgarde periodical. The French capital had just roared through a robustly creative decade (coined les années folles, or the crazy years) and emerged as the epicenter of Europe’s new artistic scene. Skira, who had already commissioned the talents of Matisse, Picasso and others for his lavish poetry books, now wanted to publish a magazine that championed these contemporary attitudes to a select readership.

Enter André Breton, founder of surrealism and leader of the intellectual fight to prioritize self-expression over convention. In his groundbreaking manifesto on the 20th-century movement, Manifeste du Surréalisme, Breton declared that surrealism is “dictated by thought, in the absence of...

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