French critic and ethnologist. He was a founder member of the Surrealist group and an early friend of André Masson. However, after breaking with André Breton he became associated with the rival group around Georges Bataille and contributed to Documents. He, Masson, and Bataille shared a fascination with the themes of violence and sacrifice. His writings include books on Masson (1947), Francis Bacon (1974), and Giacometti (1978). Like Masson and Bacon, Leiris was an enthusiast for the bullfight and contributed the commentary for the 1951 documentary film La Course des taureaux. He also published important works of anthropology including L'Afrique fantôme (1934).
His wife, LouiseLeiris (1902–88), was the sister-in-law and associate of Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler. In later years his gallery took her name.