Psychic Hélène Smith and Surrealist Automatism

A R T L▼R K

51RKkgTbAbLOn the 10th of June 1929, famous late-19th century French psychic medium and artist Hélène Smith (née Catherine-Elise Müller) died in Geneva. She was considered “the Muse of Automatic Writing” by the Surrealists, who looked up to her as a conduit to surrealist knowledge. Smith outrageously claimed that she was able to communicate, amongst others, with Martians, Victor Hugo and Cagliostro. In 1900, Smith became famous by the publication ofDes Indes à la Planete Mars (“From India to the Planet Mars. A Case of Multiple Personality with Imaginary Languages”) written as a case study about her by Théodore Flournoy, Professor of Psychology at the University of Geneva. The book depicts the remarkable multiple existence of the medium, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette, of a Hindu princess from fifteenth-century India, and of a regular visitor to Mars, whose landscapes she painted and whose language she appeared to speak fluently. Through a…

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