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June 2024
Guillaume Benoit

Georges Goldfayn

André Breton's assistant and friend ; a destiny, a collection

Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès  

In 3 months : September 5th → November 16th 2024

To celebrate the centenary of Surrealism, the Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès is offering an immersion into the collection of Georges Goldfayn (1933-2019), André Breton’s friend and assistant.


This exhibition by Michèle and Odile Aittouarès bears witness to the way Georges Goldfayn turned his life into his work, as well as paying tribute to a friend.

From left to right : Arsene Bonnafous-Murat — Georges Goldfayn — Toyen — Mimi Parent — Elisa Breton — André Breton at the Retz desert — 1960 (detail)

© Denise Bellon

Pierre Loeb's former gallery, now the Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès, will be the setting for the collection of a lifetime, bringing together a selection of fifty works of Oceanic art, Art Brut and Surrealist art: Wolfgang Paalen, Simon Hantaï, Konrad Klapheck, Jindrich Styrsky, Jindrich Heisler, Aloys Zötl, Toyen is particularly well represented with paintings, drawings, and an exceptional box-object made by Jindrich Heisler for Toyen...


Who is Georges Goldfayn? While specialists in Surrealism may know Goldfayn as André Breton's friend and assistant, who for many years ran the Galerie À l'Étoile scellée, while cinephiles remember that he worked with Henri Langlois at the Cinémathèque, helped to found the magazine L'Age du cinéma in 1951 and made a few appearances in experimental films, this exhibition shows that his life cannot be summed up in terms of his public activities, however striking they may be.

Wolfgang Paalen, Lanternes sourdes, 1953, Paint on canvas, 50 x 65 cm 

© Bertrand Michau ADAGP, Courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

What we see in this presentation, what we feel despite the absence of its creator, is Goldfayn's eye: his passion to see and to make others see, linking all his activities together, condensed in the sensitive environment he managed to create.


Georges Goldfayn's world, this singular way of combining Surrealist artworks, Art Brut and Oceanic objects, is nothing museum-like: here, everything makes sense because everything is a trace of life, an admittance of a friendly bond, a skilful improvisation (Goldfayn loved jazz as much as he loved painting and cinema) keeping alive the dialogue between some rightly confronted alterities. The flat was a self-portrait. The flat was the scene of a real conversation.

Jindrich Heisler, Philosophie dans le boudoir (Hommage au Marquis de Sade), 1943, silver print on cardboard, 105 x 80 cm

© Bertrand Michau, courtesy Galerie Berthet-Aittouarès

In the context of this exhibition, Michèle and Odile Aittouarès are publishing a book, paying tribute to their friend Georges, who died in 2019. Two perspectives will shed light on the portrait of one of Surrealism's last witnesses and key players: Annie Lebrun's, a Surrealist writer and poet and Georges Goldfayn’s friend, with whom she shared an essential relationship with Toyen, will evoke the imprint left by this man on her memory and her life. The art historian Pierre Wat, who didn’t know him, will take a different look by attempting, using the collection as a set of traces, to paint a portrait of the man who loved, collected and arranged it.


The exhibition is part of the Surrealism in Paris programme organised by the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Atelier André Breton and the Comité Professionnel des Galeries d'Art, to mark the centenary of the Surrealist Manifesto. 

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