Tarot Matta-Breton

Les Amoureux
Le Chariot
La Lune
Les etoiles
André Breton and Roberto Matta Echaurren

This is another example of the surrealist passion for tarot. The title of Breton’s long prose poem, Arcane 17, refers to tarot card 17, the “stars” card (Les étoiles), usually a symbol of free-flowing love and renewal of forces. However, Breton’s imagination brought new associations, multiplying the morning stars and infusing them with fluid meanings. Breton describes the figure in the center of the card as a naked young woman kneeling as she pours out the contents of two urns, one into a pond, the other onto the ground. He associates this woman with the legendary figure of Mélusine, a legendary mermaid who became a symbol of the difficulty to reconcile “reality” and “magic.” There is hope, however, that the “inexhaustible” urns could renew our disenchanted world. Indeed, even though the pond gives off the “pestilential odor” of social conventions, it is still longing for “a new dream.” The fragile butterfly is another symbol of “consoling mystery.” Chilean painter Roberto Matta designed the four colorful illustrations in the shape and size of tarot cards (or “arcanas”) pasted in the book.

Published by Brentano’s, New York, 1945

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One Response to “Tarot Matta-Breton”

  1. What a pity he didn’t paint the whole pack…

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