Le jeu de Marseille is a Surrealist variation on the conventional deck of playing cards. It was created by a group of artistic refugees awaiting evacuation from France in late 1940. The group included André Breton, André Masson and Max Ernst. While they waited in Marseille (hence the name) for their exit visas, one of the ways they took their overactive minds off of the matter at hand– apart from drinking– was to reconfigure the traditional card game using icons more suited to the Surrealist mindset.
The four suits became black locks (representing knowledge), black stars (dreams), red wheels (revolution) and red flames (love). The court cards were transformed into Maguses, Sirens and Geniuses. I don’t know whether it’s odd or deliberate that these people were mostly Frenchmen fleeing the Nazis and yet their replacement for the court is heavy on the Germans.
I think I first read a passing reference to le jeu de Marseille in a book about the structuralist literary micro-genre of Oulippo. As with all of my HD detritus posts, I no longer have much recollection of why I collected as many images of the cards as possible, even though I did it as recently as 2010.