Henri Michaux
Born(1899-05-24)24 May 1899
Namur, Belgium
Died19 October 1984(1984-10-19) (aged 85)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, journalist and painter
CitizenshipBelgian, French (from 1955)
GenreSurrealism, asemic writing
Notable worksMy Properties (1929); Plume (1938); Miserable Miracle: Mescaline (1956).

Henri Michaux (French: [miʃo]; 24 May 1899, Namur – 19 October 1984, Paris) was a Belgian-born French poet, writer and painter. Michaux is renowned[1] for his strange, highly original poetry and prose, and also for his art: the Paris Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York had major shows of his work in 1978 (see below, Visual Arts). His texts chronicling his psychedelic experiments with LSD and mescaline, which include Miserable Miracle and The Major Ordeals of the Mind and the Countless Minor Ones,[2] are well known. So are his idiosyncratic travelogues and books of art criticism. Michaux is also known for his stories about Plume – "a peaceful man" – perhaps the most unenterprising hero in the history of literature, and his many misfortunes. His poetic works have often been republished in France, where they are studied along with the great poets of French literature. In 1955 he became a citizen of France,[3] and he lived the rest of his life there. He became a friend of Romanian pessimist philosopher and French citizen Emil Cioran around the same time, along with other literary luminaries in France. [4] In 1965 he won the grand prix national des Lettres, which he refused to accept, as he did every honor he was accorded in his life.

Biography

Travels

In 1930 and 1931, Michaux visited Japan, China and India. The result of this trip was the book A Barbarian in Asia.[5][6][7] Asian culture became one of his biggest influences. The philosophy of Buddhism and calligraphy later became principal subjects of many of his poems and inspired many of his drawings. He also visited Ecuador and published a travelogue book of the same name.[8] His travels across the Americas finished in Brazil in 1939, and he stayed there for two years.

Visual arts

Michaux was a highly original visual artist, associated with the Tachiste movement in the 1940s and 50s, although that describes only a small part of his artistic achievement--for example, his hallucinatory representations of faces and heads. His work often makes use of dense, suggestively gestural strokes that incorporate elements of calligraphy, asemic writing, and abstract expressionism. The Museum of Modern Art in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in New York both had major shows of his work in 1978.

Works

His complete works were published by Gallimard in three volumes of the Pléiade series, 1998-2004. Œuvres complètes, Paris, 1998-2004.

Selections prepared by Michaux

Compilations in English

Further reading

References

  1. ^ "His work is without equal in the literature of our time." Jose Luis Borges, Darkness Moves: An Henri Michaux Anthology 1927-1984, p. ix.
  2. ^ Paz, Octavio (9 August 2002). "Journeys into the Abyss". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "Henri Michaux, French painter and poet". Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Emil Cioran – A Century of Writers (1999) | Türkçe Altyazılı – YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  5. ^ [2] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "A Barbarian in Asia". Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  6. ^ [3] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "A Barbarian in Asia". 31 May 2016. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  7. ^ [4] Archived 6 November 2021 at the Wayback Machine "The World of Michaux". Archived from the original on 6 November 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  8. ^ [5] Archived 26 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine "Ecuador". Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.