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History of the Surrealist Movement


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Gerard Durozoi is coauthor, with Berdanrd Lecherbonnier, of the books, Andre Breton: L'Ecriture surrealiste and Le Surrealisme: Theories, themes, techniques and the editor of Dictionnaire de l'art moderne et contemporain and Dictionnaire de philosophie. During the 1950s and 1960s he ws closely affiliated, as a philosopher, with the Surrealist movement. Alison Anderson holds a degree in translation fromthe University of Geneva, Switzerland. She has translated extensively from French and is also a novelist.


Philosopher Durozoi, an active participant in Surrealism who is widely represented in writings on the movement, here provides a well-paced narrative of the lives and works of the surrealists. Developments in literature, philosophy, painting, sculpture, photography, and film are placed in context and shown to challenge the prevailing ideas at many points in the past century. The author maintains a global focus instead of limiting himself to Paris and New York, the typical axes for dialog on this movement. The intricate text is supplemented by almost 50 pages of biographies on many "principal surrealists" and primary source material, some of which has been translated into English for the first time by Anderson; possibilities for further research abound. In closing, Durozoi comments that though the official movement has ended, Surrealism itself remains vibrant, as it is the only movement to have espoused an ethic one of love, poetry, and freedom. However, he also captures the "shadow" of the movement by writing that now more than ever the world "deserves the anathema once regularly unleashed on it by the group" for its focus on economic interests, perfectly illustrating the polemics that contributed to the movement's demise. This wonderfully complete text, which may well become a standard history on the subject, is recommended for larger public libraries and libraries specializing in art history. [Publication of this volume coincides with the exhibition "Surrealism: Desire Unbound," which travels from London's Tate Gallery to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City this spring; the catalog, of the same name, is published by Princeton University Press. Ed.] Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

With its unprecedented depth and range, this massive new history of Surrealism (including 232 color plates and 777 halftones) from veteran French philosopher and art critic Durozoi will be the one-volume standard for years to come. Divided chronologically into seven chapters, beginning with 1919-1924 and ending with 1959-1969, the book discusses expertly the main surrealist artists like Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Ren Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, but also treats with considerable understanding the surrealist writing by Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, Robert Desnos, Julien Gracq and, of course, the so-called "Pope of Surrealism," Andr Breton. Emerging from the disarray of World War I, surrealism finally foundered soon after the death of Breton in 1966, by which time world events were as ghastly as any surrealist's most vivid nightmare. There is also room for descriptions of hitherto neglected figures, like the migr painter Simon Hanta, father of the great harpsichordist Pierre Hanta. The translation manages to convey the clarity of the original text, published in France in 1997, although the syntax is sometimes half French, half English. Durozoi concludes that the "prestige" of surrealism is intact, and the movement managed to "infuse [life] with fresh air," as Gracq wrote. This generous book ends with more than 50 pages of "Notes on the Principal Surrealists and Some of Their Close Followers" useful potted biographies, which are judgmental rather than dry, reference-style efforts and an impressively copious bibliography reflecting the passion and perspicacity seen everywhere else in this book. (Apr.) Forecast: Despite its length and weight, this book should turn up in all serious collections on 20th-century art, but it will also sell well from display tables and word-of-mouth, as surrealism retains the air of sex, dreams and danger that has captivated readers and art lovers for more than 75 years. And some rarely reproduced images will spur further scholarly investigations. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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