Monday, February 9, 2009

The Incoherents

In 1882, a group of actors, artists, writers, and performers calling themselves Les Incohérents began invading cabarets and bars like Le Chat Noir and Quat'z'Arts in Montmartre, Paris. They brought an extremely anarchic and iconoclastic approach to entertainment with their philosophy of fumisme.

Fumisme was an attitude of mockery toward the norms, values and morals of conventional society. It was a barrage of satire and mischief, which attacked social mores but also was very self-deprecating. Although the French word "fumisme" literally means "chimney sweep", it can also mean crackpot or fraud.

The Incoherents were forerunners of Dadaism and Surrealism, and it is impossible that Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton and Marcel Duchamp could have been unaware of them. The Dadaists and Surrealists completely stole their routine from the Incoherents, and merely dressed it up with pseudo-intellectual pomp.

From this same Fumisme scene came Alfred Jarry (author of Ubu Roi and founder of ’Pataphysics) and the great animation pioneer Emile Cohl.

View: Emile Cohl - The Hasher's Delirium (1910)

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