Obituary: Marcel Marien
Levy, Silvano, The Independent (London, England)
Marcel Marien, publisher, poet, artist, writer: born Antwerp 29 April 1920; publications include Notes 1943, Magritte 1943, Les Corrections naturelles 1947, Theorie de la revolution mondiale immediate 1958, Dix Tableaux de Magritte 1946, L'Activite surrealiste en Belgique 1979; died 19 September 1993.
WHEN I asked Marcel Marien how he perceived himself he gave the somewhat misleading reply "Je suis editeur." That was certainly not untrue but it was far from the full story.
As a publisher, his significance has been considerable. From its inception in 1954, his publishing enterprise, Les Levres Nues, has ceaselessly sought to bring the work of the Belgian Surrealist writers to public attention. Paul Nouge, Louis Scutenaire, Irene Hamoir, Andre Souris and Paul Colinet feature in the various issues of the series, which extends to hundreds of titles. The collection "Le Fait Accompli", issued from 1968 to 1975 by Les Levres Nues and comprising 135 numbers, was particularly suited to the often aphoristic and incomplete texts produced by the Belgian group. Its high-quality, in-quarto format, sometimes comprising no more than four sheets, succeeded in rescuing otherwise fleeting letters, tracts and statements, which may well otherwise have disappeared.
One striking example of this mission concerns some unfinished, experimental notes made by Nouge in 1928, which Marien collated and matched with corresponding photographs and then published under the title La Subversion des images. Such was Marien's systematic documentation of Belgian Surrealist activity that it produced many thorough tomes. Les Levres Nues published Nouge's collected theoretical writing under the title Histoire de ne pas rire in 1956 and in 1972 Magritte's texts from the period 1946 to 1950 appeared in Manifestes et autres ecrits. In 1979 Marien published what he had described as "a history of Surrealist activities in Belgium" in the form of a chronological record of all the documents, manifestos, tracts and articles which appeared between 1924 and 1950.
Perhaps of more significance to the history of Belgian Surrealism, though, is that Marien was responsible for the first monograph on Magritte, published in 1943, and for the subsequent study on the artist, Les Corrections naturelles, which appeared in 1947.
Marien was far from being a detached commentator on Surrealism, however, and well before he became a guardian of the legacy of the Belgian group, he had joined its ranks. …