Knutson-Tzara, Greta

1899 - 1983

Sweden

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Knutson-Tzara, Greta

Written by:  Anne Brügge

Greta Knutson-Tzara grew up in a well-to-do, intellectual family well versed in foreign languages. After completing her upper secondary school, she attended Carl Wilhelmson’s Academy of Fine Arts for one year and then the Royal Institution of Art for one year, but, not satisfied with the teaching in either institution, she chose instead to study in Paris at the art school of the cubist painter André Lhote. From then on, she only ever returned to Sweden on visits. In 1925 she married the surrealist Tristan Tzara, whom she divorced in 1942. She had two children. In the war years, she had a love affair with the French poet and leader of the resistance René Char, and Albert Camus and André Breton counted among her friends.

After holding her first independent exhibition in Paris in 1929 and in Stockholm in 1932, she wrote critiques and cultural articles in Swedish and French periodicals, as well as prose and modernist poetry that floats dreamily between time and space in a surrealist-inspired landscape. As late as 1980, her own German translation of a volume containing a collection of texts dating from 1927 onwards and entitled Bestien was published in Berlin. In 1985 the French edition Lunaires was published posthumously. A number of individual prose poems have been translated into Swedish. Greta Knutson committed suicide in Paris.

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