Mesens, E.L.T. 1903–1971

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Mesens, E.L.T. 1903–1971

(Edouard Leon Teodore Mesens)

PERSONAL: Born November 17, 1903, in Brussels, Belgium; died 1971, in Brussels, Belgium. Education: Studied music, 1918–24.

CAREER: Poet and musician. Worked as a music composer until 1923; London Gallery, London, England, director, 1938–40; broadcaster for British Broadcasting Corporation, London, early 1940s; gallery owner in London, beginning c. 1945. Selection committee member, International Surrealist Exhibition, 1936. Co-editor of magazine Oesophage, beginning 1925; editor, with Ronald Penrose, of London Bulletin, 1938–40; editor of magazines Variétés, Selection, and Marie, Paris, France. Exhibitions: Exhibited artwork throughout Europe and in United States; collages included in permanent collections at Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium; Tate Gallery, London, England; and Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.


Poèmes 1923–48, Le Terrain Vague (Paris, France), 1959.

(With others) Le Cache-sexe des anges, [Brussels, Belgium], 1979.

Contributor to periodicals, including Artes Plastiques.

SIDELIGHTS: E.L.T. Mesens was admired for the contributions he made to several artistic fields during the early-to mid-twentieth century. In his youth Mesens wrote poetry, studied music, and worked as a composer. He is credited, together with Rene Magritte and Paul Nouge, with founding the Belgian Surrealist movement in 1925, and coediting the movement's magazine, Oesophage. In 1925 he visited Paris, France, where he made the acquaintance of the composer Erik Alfred Leslie Satie, as well as such visual artists as Dadaist painter Francis Picabia and cubist painter Marcel Duchamp. Through the 1930s and 1940s, Mesens wrote for several art journals and coedited Variétés and Selection. He also edited the journal Marie and wrote poetry.

Though Mesens published only one volume of his own poems, Poèmes 1923–48, his printed work is characterized by his use of graphic ephemera: torn ticket stubs, scraps of cigarette paper, and the like. These have been described as "visual puns" and are noted for the poetic element they bring to Mesens's collages. The artist had his first solo exhibition in 1958 at the Galerie Furstenburg in Paris, which he followed with solo exhibitions in Brussels, Milan, London, and Turin. His works were also included in group exhibitions in La Louvière, Belgium, and at galleries in New York City and London, and are part of permanent collections at the Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.



Contemporary Artists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Spectator, December 6, 1997, Bevis Hillier, "A Figure of Major Minorness," p. 40.