Nearly every assemblage you see today has its visual history rooted in the Surrealist movement of the early 1900s. Assemblage was one of many techniques employed by the Surrealists to create artifacts related to their philosophies. For example, much of surrealist art was related to their theories about dreams.

Poem-Object by Andre Breton, 1935

Poem-Object by Andre Breton, 1935

André Breton, the leader of the early Surrealists, was a poet, writer, and revolutionary philosopher. While he is most famous for writing the Surrealist Manifesto, Breton also composed some of the earliest assemblages called “Poem-Objects”.

I had previously thought that the now-common “writing on your art” technique was an invention of the 1960s, but Breton did that back in the ’30s. Roughly translated, the words on the egg in the picture mean: “I see” “I imagine”. The egg is a near-universal symbol of life, growth, and immortality.

You can read more about Surrealist art practices at Surrealist Art, Chapter 7, by Sarane Alexandrian. The piece is in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland.