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Recent Books on Dada

William A. CAMFIELD & Arnauld PIERRE - Francis Picabia Catalogue Raisonné: Volume 1

This publication is the first of four volumes in the catalogue raisonné of Francis Picabia (1879–-1953), one of the most significant, challenging artists of the 20th century. The works in Volume I range from Picabia's early pieces as an Impressionist in the 1890s to his Cubist and abstract paintings of 1912-14, which constitute landmarks in the history of modern art. This volume allows for new critical and scientific readings of his work and piques interest in his lesser-known pieces. Along with illustrations of each featured work, the book includes an introduction, chronology, bibliography, list of exhibitions, and indices.

March 16, 2015
Edition: Bilingual Hardcoverl
Price: $237.50
ISBN-13: 978-0300208283

R. Bruce ELDER - Dada, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect

This book, a companion to Elder's previous publication, Harmony & Dissent, examines the Dada and Surrealist movements as responses to the advent of the cinema. The author is one of Canada's foremost experimental filmmakers.

May 2013
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
776 pages
ISBN13: 978-1-55458-625-7

Thomas GIRST - The Duchamp Dictionary
This new book explores the artist's life and work through short, alphabetical dictionary entries that introduce his legacy in a clear and engaging way.
From alchemy and anatomy to Warhol and windows, The Duchamp Dictionary offers a pithy and readable text that draws on in-depth scholarship and the very latest research. Thomas Girst includes close to 200 entries on the most interesting and important artworks, relationships, people, and ideas in Duchamp's life - from The Bicycle Wheel and Fountain to Walter and Louise Arensberg, Peggy Guggenheim, Katherine Dreier, and Arturo Schwarz. Delightful, newly commissioned illustrations introduce each letter of the alphabet and accompany select entries, capturing the irreverent spirit of the artist himself.

May 13, 2014
Thames & Hudson
59 colour illustrations by Luke Frost and Theresa Vandling
ISBN-10: 0500239177

See also "9 Things You Didn't Know About Dada Master Marcel Duchamp"
well illustrated article from The Huffington Post on Duchamp (with a few errors)...

Marius HENTEA - Tata Dada
The Real Life and Celestial Adventures of Tristan Tzara
As the leader of Dada, Tzara created 'the moment art changed forever.' But, Hentea shows, Tzara and Dada were not coterminous. Tzatra sent on to publish more than fifty books; he wrote one of the great poems of surrealism; he became a recognized expert on primitive art; he was an active antifascist, a communist, and (after the Soviet repression of the Hungarian Revolution) a former communist.

October 2014
The MIT Press
360 pages + 60 illus.
$34.95 - 28,95 euros

Megan R. LUKE - Kurt Schwitters: Space, Image, Exile
Schwitters' capricious art was anathema to the Nazis, who displayed it in the notorious travelling display Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) intended to ridicule and stamp out art that the regime saw as cultural pollution. Megan Luke's energetic study homes in on the decisive moment when Schwitters hurried off to Norway in early 1937 to escape the impending Gestapo knock on the door. He foolishly thought the danger might blow over, but instead found he had opted for permanent exile: it was to extend to his death in northern England in 1948.

February 14, 2014
University of Chicago Press
352 pages
42,57 euros
ISBN: 9780226085180

See Roger CARDINAL's complete critique of the later work of an avant-garde German artist during his years in exile in Times Higher Education, June 6, 2014.

See also Daydreaming w/ Bob Arnold

Michel SANOUILLET and Elmer PETERSON, editors
Marcel DUCHAMP - The Writings of Marcel Duchamp

In the twenties, Dada proclaimed that words had stopped playing around and had begun to make love. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the writings of Marcel Duchamp, who fashioned some of the more joyous and ingenious couplings and uncouplings in modern art. This collection beings together two essential interviews and two statements about his art that underscore the serious side of Duchamp. But most of the book is made up of his experimental writings, which he called "Texticles", the long and extraordinary notes he wrote for The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (also known as The Large Glass), and the outrageous puns and alter-ego he constructed for his female self, Rrose Sélavy ("Eros, c'est la vie" -- "arroser la vie" or "drink it up" -- "celebrate life"). Wacky, perverse, deliberately frustrating, these entertaining notes are basic for understanding one of the twentieth century's most provocative artists, a figure whose influence on the contemporary scene has never been stronger.
See also a recent review of the book by Ed NEWMAN

Da Capo Press Inc.
208 p.
New edition
11,06 euros
ISBN: 0306803410

Octavio PAZ - Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bare

Octavio Paz claims in this essential work that the two painters who had the greatest influence on the twentieth century were Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. If that conjunction surprises at first, Paz makes a convincing case with his analysis and by contrasting the two artists. "I have linked their two names," he writes, "because it seems to me that each of them has in his own way succeeded in defining our age: the former by what he affirms; the latter by what he negates, by his explorations." Considering Duchamp's career and writings from his scandalous Nude Descending a Staircase in 1913 to his subsequent investigations, from his Large Glass and kinetic art to the Readymades and "physiques amusantes" ("comic calculations"), Paz offers a highly personal assessment, exploring the apparent contradictions and seeming enigmas with the insight and lucidity that characterized all his writing.
When this book was first published, Publishers Weekly called it an "extraordinary and indispensable book" and said: "Paz may have come closer to Duchamp's essence as a philosopher of spiritual freedom than any critic to date."

Arcade Publishing

Georges RIBEMONT-DESSAIGNES - The Emperor of China, The Mute Canary & The Executioner of Peru

Translated, with an introduction, by Christopher Butterfield

Three savage plays from the man André Breton designated as one of the only "true Dadas" (alongside Tristan Tzara and Francis Picabia): The Emperor of China (1916), The Mute Canary (1920) and The Executioner of Peru (1928). The first two have long been acknowledged as highpoints in the Dada movement's contribution to the theater, but in their brutal depictions of violent sexuality and nightmarish tyranny, and their casts of manipulative bureaucrats, murderous henchmen, insane dictators, lascivious virgins, Ubuesque cuckolds and nonsense-spewing enigmas, these plays also echo the work of such other dissident surrealists of the era as Georges Bataille and André Masson. These unsettling theatrical works were significant anticipations of Antonin Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty and the Theater of the Absurd of the 1960s.
Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes (1884–1974) was a French writer and artist, and one of the fiercest adherents of the Paris Dada movement, acting as the group's secretary, and for which he authored some of its most vitriolic texts. Disenchanted with the Surrealist movement that followed, Ribemont-Dessaignes allied himself instead with such other Surrealist dissidents as René Daumal and the Grand Jeu. Throughout his long life, Ribemont-Dessaignes authored a sizable oeuvre of novels, plays, poetry, essays and memoirs, none of which has to date been translated into English.
"[The Emperor of China] is a powerful play that combines the elements of nonsense and violence which characterizes the Theater of the Absurd." -- Martin Esslin

January 2015
Wakefield Press
272 pages
$17.95 US, $17.95 Canadian
ISBN: 978-1-939663-05-4

Michel SANOUILLET - Dada in Paris
Now available in paperback for $19.57
Retranslated by Gillian BEAUMONT (

In 1965 the public viva of Michel Sanouillet's doctoral thesis Dada à Paris at the Sorbonne was threatened with disruption by members of the radical Lettriste group, whose leader Isidore Isou protested against the appropriation of Dada by the academic establishment., arguing that the Lettristes were the true heirs of Dada. Yet Sanouillet was attempting to resist the fossilization of Dada as a historical movement, hence his declared aim to reconcile "dry laboratory studies" with Dada's "enthusiasm, exuberance, spontaneity, insolent laughter, and human touch" (p. 2). Dada à Paris was first published in French in 1965, and revised and expanded by Anne Sanouillet in 1983 and 2005. It is the 2005 revised edition which is now available in a long-awaited English translation by Sharmila Ganguly. A leading scholar of Dada, editor ot the first French academic journal on the subject, Cahiers Dada et Surréalisme (1965-7), and co-founder and first president of the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism (1972), Sanouillet has made a major contribution to the establishment of Dada as a distinctive movement. His Dada à Paris, the first major scholarly work on Dada, remains today an essential reference for scholars in the field. [...]
continues on:
Review by Elza Adamowicz, Queen Mary University of London.

The MIT Press
720 pages
$34.95 (paperback $19.57)
ISBN: 9780262518215

Preview of the complete text of Chapter 6: Dada's Beginnings

Dirk STURSBERG - Francis Picabia

October 11, 2014
Art Masters # 85:
Art Masters is a book series by Susan Baya & Dirk Stursberg.

Calvin TOMKINS - The Bride and the Bachelors
As for Mr. Tomkins's book, which features writing on Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Jean Tinguely, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham and, as an addition to this new version, Jasper Johns, Mr. Tomkins modestly told us, "It amazes me that it's still in print."

April 1, 2014 (revised edition)
Gagosian Gallery
484 pages
40.87 euros
ISBN-10: 1935263757

Calvin TOMKINS - Marcel DUCHAMP: The Afternoon Interviews

In 1964, Calvin Tomkins spent a number of afternoons interviewing Marcel Duchamp in his apartment on West 10th Street in New York. Casual yet insightful, Duchamp reveals himself as a man and an artist whose playful principles toward living freed him to make art that was as unpredictable, complex, and surprising as life itself. Those interviews have never been edited and made public, until now. The Afternoon Interviews, which includes an introductory interview with Tomkins reflecting on Duchamp as an artist, guide and friend, reintroduces the reader to key ideas of his artistic world and renews Duchamp as a vital model for a new generation of artists.

Badlands Unlimited
Paperback publication date: 01/01/2013
110 pages
ISBN-10: 1936440393

Need It Now: Calvin Tomkins's Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews

Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews

We just got our hands on the slim book Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews and we're so glad we did. In 1964, writer Calvin Tomkins interviewed Marcel Duchamp in his apartment in New York; this book, based on those five-and-a-half hours of taped dialogues with the artist, is the first time their conversations have been made public. One of the most important and enigmatic artists of the 20th century, Duchamp sparked outrage with Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 in 1912, then again by turning a urinal into art and titling it Fountain in 1917. He was already a celebrity when he arrived in New York from France in 1915 and was revered as a god-like figure for his subversive and ground-breaking body of work that continues to defy categorization. In about 1923, Duchamp was thought to have given up art for chess which he pursued vigorously, all the while working on his last major installation for some twenty years shrouded in secrecy. This series of frank tête-à-têtes offers insight into the artist's work but also the principles that guided his fascinating life and practice.


Chris F. WESTBURY - The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even is the name of a big, cryptic, provocative piece of modern art - —part painting, part sculpture - —that took the French-American artist Marcel Duchamp eight years to complete before it was first unveiled in Brooklyn in 1926.
Some 88 years later, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even is also the name of the debut novel by Edmonton's Chris F. Westbury and published by Counterpoint. The title is fitting, given that the book is about two Duchamp fanatics who take a road trip to see the world's largest collection of his work in Philadelphia, and that it features several extended riffs on the pleasures of looking at, or even just thinking about, art.

9 June 2015
Counterpoint LLC
272 pages
ISBN-10: 1619025493
13.80 euros

Michael WHITE - Generation Dada - The Berlin Avant-Garde and the First World War

In this book, Michael White focuses on the friendships that forged the enigmatic and difficult to define avant-garde art movement (or anti-art movement) known as "Dada." He quotes Richard Huelsenbeck (1892-1974) who said that, "Dada is a club, founded in Berlin."
Whether Dada began in Berlin or in Zurich (at the Café Voltaire) is open to question. The exact specifications of Dada art are also open to question, for Dada remains "the most indefinable of the 20th century's counterculture movements." In spite of this ambiguity, the Nazis did not doubt that Dada was "degenerate"—for they displayed it in their Degenerate Art show of 1936.
Dada traveled to New York, but lost the political impetus of its European originators. Wherever it went, the boundaries of Dada aesthetics remained loose, so that Dada art is not instantly recognizable by appearance alone, as one might expect of the plastic arts. The exact opposite could be said for both the French-born Surrealism and for German Expressionism, two other art movements that arose around the same time, and that reacted to The Great War. [...]

Yale University Press (5 novembre 2013)
288 pages
ISBN-10: 0300169035
46.75 euros

Review by Sharon Packer, MD - Metapsychology - December 30, 2014