Philippe Soupault

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Jul 22, 2023

Table of Content


Philippe Soupault, born August 2, 1897 in Chaville and died March 12, 1990 in Paris XVI, was a French writer, poet and journalist, co-founder of surrealism. He is buried in the cemetery of Montmartre (17th division).


He was the third child of Dr. Maurice Soupault, a gastroenterologist, a physician at Paris hospitals, and a wealthy landowner in Beauce, and Cécile Dancongnée, daughter of Victor Léon Dancongnée, a famous lawyer at the Conseil d'Etat whose family, originally from Puy-en-Velay, had made their fortune in lace. Her mother's sister, Louise, married Fernand Renault, Louis Renault's older brother. Philippe Soupault was to pass a very harsh judgment on his uncle by marriage. He describes him in Le Grand Homme ou Histoire d'un Blanc.

He is also the uncle of Brigitte Sabouraud, who is a singer-songwriter of French songs and the co-founder of the cabaret L'Écluse.

He is the father of two daughters: Nicole (1920-1988), from his first marriage (1918) with Suzanne Pillard Verneuil (1895-1980), and Christine who, born from his second marriage (1923) with Marie-Louise Le Borgne (1894-1955), will marry the architect Paul Chemetov.

From Dadaism to Surrealism

With his friends André Breton and Louis Aragon, he participated in the Dada adventure, which he considered a "necessary clean slate", and then turned to Surrealism, of which he was one of the main founders with André Breton. With Breton, he wrote the poetry collection Les Champs magnétiques in 1919, according to the innovative principle of automatic writing. This collection of poetry can be considered as one of the first surrealist works, while the movement will be launched effectively only in 1924 with the first Manifesto of Surrealism by André Breton.

Soupault is excluded from the surrealist movement in 1926, with the reason "too much literature", while the surrealist movement is committed to the communist cause.

Crazy love

On November 7, 1933, during the "Revolution Party" at the Soviet Embassy, where the intellectual Tout-Paris gathered, Philippe Soupault met a German woman, Ré Richter (Meta Erna Niemeyer, known as), who divorced Hans Richter. They married in 1937. Ré was already part of the Parisian circle of artists that evolved around Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Elsa Triolet, Max Ernst, Kiki and many others. This former student of the Bauhaus and friend of the Berlin Dadaists introduced them to the German avant-garde, which was little known in France until then. The couple she formed with Philippe Soupault made this fruitful artistic sharing a reality.


Since the end of the 1920s, Philippe Soupault had become a famous French journalist. He worked in particular for VU, Excelsior or L'Intransigeant. He believed in the talent of Ré, his future wife, who had studied art, and so he convinced her to illustrate his reports.

From 1934, the Soupault couple travelled the world, visiting Germany, Austria, Sweden, England and the United States. He wrote, she photographed. As he will tell in his interviews on France Culture, he even met Hitler and his aide-de-camp by chance in an elevator. He regrets not having had a gun at that time. Similarly, one day he came across Stalin and was surprised by the cruel expression on his face. That day he saw him drinking 24 vodkas at a reception, but was told that Stalin discretely threw them away without drinking them. In 1935, they made a series of reports together in Norway, again in Germany, Czechoslovakia, England, Spain (1936) and finally Tunisia. Philippe Soupault was commissioned by Léon Blum, then President of the Popular Front Council, to launch a new anti-fascist station, Radio Tunis, which he directed from 1937 to 1940. In 1941, they traveled throughout the country by bicycle. They wanted to meet the population, to see with their own eyes the reality and to share it: "we wanted to talk to the people" she said in an interview for Libération in 1994. Chased by the Vichy police as well as by the Nazi dictatorship - Philippe Soupault was imprisoned for six months - they managed, by a fortunate combination of circumstances and without being able to take anything with them, to flee clandestinely from Tunisia in November 1942, one day before Rommel's German troops invaded Tunis. Their house on el Karchani street was looted several times. They passed through Algeria and took refuge on the American continent.

During 1943, Philippe Soupault was given numerous assignments in North, Central and South America, where he worked to rebuild the network of French press agencies for the government of Charles de Gaulle. In New York, they meet again with their group of Parisian friends, Walter Mehring, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, Marcel Breuer, Herbert Bayer, Kurt Weill, Max Ernst. Ré accompanies Philippe on all his trips. They meet Gisèle Freund and Victoria Ocampo in Argentina. They made numerous trips to South America during 1944: Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Brazil. They returned to the United States via Haiti, Cuba and a brief stay in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where Philippe taught at the University. The year 1945 marks the separation of the Soupault couple.

His poetry is from the beginning very cosmopolitan and open to avant-garde movements. Soupault was also a journalist, critic, essayist, radio producer (with Paul Gilson) and the author of numerous novels.

In 1989, Philippe Soupault participated on France Culture in a program devoted to his cinematographic poem Le Coeur volé in Jean-Pierre Pagliano's series "Cinémaquette ou Ecoutez les films que vous ne pouvez pas voir" (first broadcast: 13 November 1989).


Throughout his life he has kept the practice, theorized by the Surrealist Movement, of automatic drawings, related to his daily experiences, such as the drawings of "nightmare memories" of 1985 and 86.


  1. Philippe Soupault
  2. Philippe Soupault
  3. Mémoires de l'oubli 1927-1933 Lachenal & Ritter. Paris 1997
  4. Didier Toussaint Renault, ou, L'inconscient d'une entreprise L'Harmattan 2004
  5. Inge Herold (Hrsg.): Ré Soupault. Eine Künstlerin im Zentrum der Avantgarde. Verlag Das Wunderhorn, Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-88423-363-4, S. 18. (Zugl. Katalog der gleichnamigen Ausstellung, Kunsthalle Mannheim, 13. Februar bis 8. Mai 2011).
  6. a b Übersetzt von Hans Thill.
  7. a b c d e f Übersetzt von Ré Soupault.
  8. Anscheinend nicht mehr erschienen.
  9. Philippe Soupault // Encyclopædia Britannica (англ.)
  10. 1 2 Philippe Soupault // Brockhaus Enzyklopädie (нем.) / Hrsg.: Bibliographisches Institut & F. A. Brockhaus, Wissen Media Verlag
  11. Philippe Soupault // Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana (кат.) — Grup Enciclopèdia, 1968.
  12. Soupault, Marie Ernest Philippe // Fichier des personnes décédées
  13. Czech National Authority Database
  14. ^ a b "Philippe Soupault | French writer". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 30 June 2023.
  15. ^ Montagu, J. (2002). The Surrealists. Revolutionaries in Art and Writing 1919–35. London: Tate Publishing
  16. ^ Mousli, Béatrice (2010). Philippe Soupault (in French). Groupe Flammarion. ISBN 9782081248991. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  17. ^ Keith Aspley,"Blake, William", in Historical dictionary of surrealism. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2010. ISBN 9780810874992 (p. 71)

Please Disable Ddblocker

We are sorry, but it looks like you have an dblocker enabled.

Our only way to maintain this website is by serving a minimum ammount of ads

Please disable your adblocker in order to continue.

Dafato needs your help!

Dafato is a non-profit website that aims to record and present historical events without bias.

The continuous and uninterrupted operation of the site relies on donations from generous readers like you.

Your donation, no matter the size will help to continue providing articles to readers like you.

Will you consider making a donation today?