Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55

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One should no longer seek existentialists in the Cafe de Flore. They are hidden in cellars: if not the Vatican cellars, those of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. From now on it is there that the existentialists, doubtless awaiting their beloved atom bomb, drink, dance, love, and sleep.

Existentialism matured so fast that the class struggle has already split it. It is a matter now of distinguishing between rich existentialists and poor existentialists.

At the start all existentialists were poor. Since then, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Camus have earned money through literature; Jacques-Laurent Bostin through the cinema; Mouloudji through proletarian realism; others through journalism. These rich existentialists have as their HQ the Pont Royal cafe and they even drink cocktails.

Curiously enough, there are only a few of the rich, while poor existentialists are legion.

Poor existentialists are really poor. They are between 16 and 22 years old, generally from a good background and nearly all of them have been sworn at by their fathers.

From the newspaper Samedi soir, May 3, 1947 and quoted in Manuel de Saint Germain des Pres by Boris Vian

Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until 5 September.

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