André Breton (1896, Tinchebray – 1966, Paris) is the leading theorist of Surrealism, a poet and critic.
In his student days, he became interested in Sigmund Freud's concept of the unconscious and Symbolist poetry, which led him to join the Dadaists. His first collection of poems Mont de Piété was published in 1919. It was in the same year that he started the publication Litterature with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupalt. Breton's Surrealist text Les Champs magnétiques (written with Soupalt) was published there in 1921 - the first example of the Surrealist technique of automatic writing. His Manifeste du surréalisme was published in 1924. In 1928 he published a poetic novel Nadja. Some of his other works include L'Immaculée Conception (1930, with Paul Éluard), L'Amour fou (1937), theoretical works Le Surréalisme et la Peinture (1926), Qu'est-ce que le surréalisme? (1934), Genèse et perspectives du surréalisme (1941), La Clé des champs (1953) and others.
The Surrealists became politically involved, and Breton briefly joined the Communist Party alongside several colleagues. Breton wrote his second Surrealist manifesto in 1930, and another in 1942. During the German occupation of France, in 1941, Breton moved to the United States, following Petain's censorship of his work Anthologie de l'humour noir. In 1942 at Yale University he organised a Surrealist exhibition. He returned to Paris in 1946 and organised an exhibition of Surrealism the following year.