Brauner returned to Paris from Romania in 1938 and in August of the same year he accidentally lost en eye when he was hit by a bottle thrown by Oscar Dominguez. This traumatic experience changed his painting style forever. André Breton, who had welcomed Brauner when he joined the Surrealist group in 1933, said that for Brauner everything in this period seemed uncertain to him and in this state of anxiety he created the expression of "entre chien et loup" meaning an ambiguous state of mind suggesting the kindness of the dog and the threat of the wolf.
In 1948 Brauner broke with the Surrealist movement and declared himself a "picto-poet", dedicating himself to "reinventing" Surrealism. Initiation à la liberté thus belongs to the period of Brauner's oeuvre, in which he was freed from the constraints of the dictatorial Breton. However, the freedom referred to in the title also suggest a message of hope towards his native Rumania, which had fallen to its own form of dictatorship during and after the Second World War.