Legendary Black author and activist was key figure in establishing an African diaspora literary movement
The story and legacy of renowned Martinique poet, author and politician Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) will be celebrated in a special installation at The Dalí Museum this fall. Aimé Césaire: Poetry, Surrealism and Négritude will explore Césaire’s poems, political activism and strong ties to the art and literature of his time. Césaire once said about his writing: “Surrealism provided me with what I had been confusedly searching for.”
Aimé Césaire: Poetry, Surrealism and Négritude is organized by The Dalí Museum and co-curated by founder and artistic director of Studio@620 Bob Devin Jones and Dalí Museum curator of education Peter Tush. The free exhibit will be on view in the Raymond James Community Room on the Museum’s ground floor Sept. 10 through Dec. 5, 2021.
“It has been an honor to leverage my passions by working with The Dalí to share with our community the story of this significant Black literary arts figure,” said Jones.
“As a museum focused on the legacy of an artist who always daringly pushed perspectives, The Dalí strives to present exhibitions that meaningfully provoke thought, admiration and understanding,” added Tush. “This exhibit and the work of Aimé Césaire aligns with the tenets of Surrealism – a topic we vigorously research. Césaire’s work has been of interest to The Dalí for some time.”
Hailing from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, Césaire, while studying in Paris, co-founded Négritude, a movement that drew on Surrealism in developing an anti-colonialist awareness of Black culture. With his wife, fellow writer Suzanne Césaire, he founded the review Tropiques, which brought together a group of Martinican intellectuals to write anti-colonial poetry and essays influenced by Surrealism. In 1941, Césaire met Surrealism founder André Breton, who became his friend and supporter. When Césaire’s book-length poem “Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land)” was published in 1947, Breton said it “is nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of our times.”
Césaire also developed a close friendship with Pablo Picasso. In 1949, Césaire published his poem collection “Corps perdu (Lost Body),” which featured 32 drypoints and etchings by Picasso, including his “‘Negro, negro, negro…’ Portrait of Aimé Césaire, Laureate.”
In addition to being a great literary figure, Césaire was a well-respected politician. In 1945, he was elected mayor of Fort-de-France, Martinique, and deputy to the French National Assembly. He later founded the Parti Progressiste Martiniquais and served with the party for 47 years. In 1955 Césaire published “Discourse on Colonialism,” a denunciation of European colonial racism, decadence and hypocrisy.
A variety of Césaire’s books will be available for purchase in the Museum Store. A range of thought-provoking programs, including poetry readings, performing arts and educational lectures inspired by Césaire’s life and works, will be held at both The Dalí and Studio@620, one of St. Petersburg’s most active centers for the arts.
Access to the Museum’s ground floor is free and open to the public; online timed reservations are available at TheDali.org/Aime.
About The Dalí Museum
TThe Dalí Museum, located in picturesque downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, is home to one of the most acclaimed collections of a single modern artist in the world, with over 2,000 works representing every moment and medium of Salvador Dalí’s creative life. The Dalí is recognized internationally by the Michelin Guide with a three-star rating; has been deemed “one of the top buildings to see in your lifetime” by AOL Travel News; and was named one of the 10 most interesting museums in the world by Architectural Digest. The Dalí’s acclaimed digital experiences have received numerous national and international awards for creative innovation. The Museum is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to preserve Dalí’s legacy for generations to come and serve as an active resource in the cultural life of the community and the world at large. The Dalí is open daily, located at One Dalí Boulevard, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. For more information visit TheDali.org or download the free Dalí Museum App.