40 Facts About Antonin Artaud


Antoine Marie Joseph Paul Artaud, better known as Antonin Artaud, was a French writer, poet, dramatist, visual artist, essayist, actor and theatre director.

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Antonin Artaud is widely recognized as one of the major figures of the European avant-garde.

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Antonin Artaud was born in Marseille, to Euphrasie Nalpas and Antoine-Roi Artaud.

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Antonin Artaud's parents were first cousins—his grandmothers were sisters from Smyrna .

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Antonin Artaud was, throughout his life, greatly affected by his Greek ancestry.

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Antonin Artaud was diagnosed with meningitis at age five, a disease which had no cure at the time.

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Antonin Artaud was discharged due to "an unspecified health reason" .

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In May 1919, the director of the sanatorium prescribed laudanum for Antonin Artaud, precipitating a lifelong addiction to that and other opiates.

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In March 1921, Antonin Artaud moved to Paris where he was put under the psychiatric care of Dr Edouard Toulouse who took him in as a boarder.

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In Paris, Antonin Artaud worked with a number of celebrated French "teacher-directors".

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Originally Antonin Artaud was a strong proponent of Dullin's teaching, stating, "Hearing Dullin teach I feel that I'm rediscovering ancient secrets and a whole forgotten mystique of production".

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Antonin Artaud would join the Pitoeff's troupe in 1923, remaining with them through the next year when he would put more focus on his work in the cinema.

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In 1923, Antonin Artaud mailed some of his poems to the journal La Nouvelle Revue Francaise ; they were rejected, but the author of the poems intrigued the NRF's editor, Jacques Riviere, who requested a meeting.

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Antonin Artaud would continue to publish some of his most important work in the NRF, including the "First Manifesto for a Theatre of Cruelty" and "Theatre and the plague" .

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Antonin Artaud would draw from these publications when putting together The Theatre and Its Double.

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Antonin Artaud had an active career in the cinema working as a critic, actor, and writer.

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Antonin Artaud played the monk Massieu in Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc .

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Antonin Artaud wrote a number of film scenarios, ten of which have survived.

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Only one of Antonin Artaud's scenarios was produced, The Seashell and the Clergyman .

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Antonin Artaud was briefly associated with the surrealists, before being expelled by Andre Breton in 1927.

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In 1931, Antonin Artaud saw Balinese dance performed at the Paris Colonial Exposition.

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In 1935, Antonin Artaud staged an original adaptation of Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Cenci at the Theatre des Folies-Wagram in Paris.

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In 1935 Antonin Artaud decided to go to Mexico, where he was convinced there was 'a sort of deep movement in favour of a return to civilisation before Cortez'.

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Antonin Artaud studied and lived with the Tarahumaran people and participated in peyote rites, his writings about which were later released in a volume called Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara, published in English under the title The Peyote Dance .

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Antonin Artaud recorded his horrific withdrawal from heroin upon entering the land of the Tarahumaras.

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In 1937, Antonin Artaud returned to France, where his friend Rene Thomas gave him a walking stick of knotted wood that Antonin Artaud believed contained magical powers and was the 'most sacred relic of the Irish church, the Bachall Isu, or Staff of Jesus'.

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Antonin Artaud traveled to Ireland, landing at Cobh and travelling to Galway, possibly in an effort to return the staff.

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Antonin Artaud was forcibly removed from the grounds of Milltown House, a Jesuit community, when he refused to leave.

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On his return trip by ship, Antonin Artaud believed he was being attacked by two crew members, and he retaliated; he was put in a straitjacket and he was involuntarily retained by the police upon his return to France.

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In 1943, when France was occupied by the Germans and Italians, Robert Desnos arranged to have Antonin Artaud transferred to the psychiatric hospital in Rodez, well inside Vichy territory, where he was put under the charge of Dr Gaston Ferdiere.

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At Rodez Antonin Artaud underwent therapy including electroshock treatments and art therapy.

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Antonin Artaud denounced the electroshock treatments and consistently pleaded to have them suspended, while ascribing to them 'the benefit of having returned him to his name and to his self mastery'.

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At Ivry-sur-Seine Antonin Artaud's friends encouraged him to write and interest in his work was rekindled.

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Antonin Artaud visited a Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the Orangerie in Paris and wrote the study "Van Gogh le suicide de la societe" ["Van Gogh, The Man Suicided by Society"]; in 1947, the French magazine K published it.

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In 1949, the essay would be first of Antonin Artaud's to be translated in a United States based publication, the influential literary magazine Tiger's Eye.

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Antonin Artaud died shortly afterwards on 4 March 1948 in a psychiatric clinic in Ivry-sur-Seine, a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris.

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Antonin Artaud was found by the gardener of the estate seated alone at the foot of his bed, and it was suspected that he died from a lethal dose of the drug chloral hydrate, although it is unknown whether he was aware of its lethality.

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Antonin Artaud has had a profound influence on theatre, avant-garde art, literature, psychiatry and other disciplines.

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Antonin Artaud's has exerted a strong influence on the development of experimental theatre and performance art.

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Antonin Artaud's ideas helped inspire a movement away from the dominant role of language and rationalism in performance practice.

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