Skip navigation

Michel Sanouillet

Michel Sanouillet is a French art historian and one of the leading scholars of the Dada movement. He is Dean Emeritus of the University of Nice, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, and founder and first president of the International Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism.

Titles by This Author

Michel Sanouillet's Dada in Paris, published in France in 1965, reintroduced the Dada movement to a public that had largely ignored or forgotten it. Over forty years later, it remains both the unavoidable starting point and the essential reference for anyone interested in Dada or the early twentieth-century avant-garde. This first English-language edition of Sanouillet's definitive work (a translation of the expanded 2005 French edition) gives English-speaking readers their first direct access to the author's monumental history (based on years of research, including personal involvement with most of the Dadaists still living at the time) and massive compilation of previously unpublished correspondence, including more than 200 letters to and from such movement luminaries as Tristan Tzara, André Breton, and Francis Picabia.

In the years after Dada's relatively brief Paris flowering in the 1920s, its members were often depicted as opportunistic youths, hedonistic jokers engrossed in a monstrous solipsism. Sanouillet was the first to see them instead as the most gifted and sensitive representatives of a generation, intent on finding a new way of living, writing, and feeling. Dada in Paris offers a behind-the-scenes account of the French avant-garde's riotous adolescence, with a timeline that begins with Tzara and Picabia and stretches to include Breton, Philippe Soupault, Louis Aragon, and Paul Éluard. Sanouillet describes the pre-Dada Parisian milieu, the connection made with Zurich Dada, and Parisian Dada projects and their reception. Finally, by 1923, Dada-according-to-Tzara gave way to Dada-according-to-Breton—which a few months later, under tumultuous circumstances, took on the new name of Surrealism. The longer-lasting, more conservative Surrealism would overshadow Dada for decades to come.