Mary Ann Caws
MARY ANN CAWS is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Her many areas of interest in twentieth-century avant-garde literature and art include Surrealism, poets René Char and André Breton, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group, and artists Robert Motherwell, Joseph Cornell, and Pablo Picasso. Conceptually, one of her primary themes has been the relationship between image and text.
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Picking up on a thread from the last Brooklyn Rail Critics Page, about haunting, and who and what haunts you, I first think of André Bretons Nadja and its beginning: Who am I? If this once I were to rely on a proverb, then perhaps everything would amount to knowing whom I haunt.
If philosophy takes in everything, it was all here on this night-morning. Of course, you might say to yourself, why just a night of philosophy, why not, perhaps, a day and a night, or several of each, or what about a life of it?
In the original title of Max Ernst’s extraordinary bronze statues of 1967, Corps enseignant pour une école de tueurs (Teaching Staff for a School of Murderers), there is no specific reference to a “Big Brother.”
Kerstin Brätsch, Blocked Radiant.Before you even go in, on either side of the doors, you encounter this oxymoron: the doors are not blocked, but they are surrounded by panels designated as blocked. Wow.
Of course, in 1966 it would seem to require a necessary immensity to portray, in any possible way, the alliance of myth and antiquity: the battle of Greek gods and human giants against the background noise of Vietnam, so iconic and gigantic as they appear in Naples and Berlin, where I well remember gasping in front of the Pergamon frieze in the Pergamon Museum.
These seventeen paintings, early 1960s to early 1980s, each so clearly marked by Rosenquist’s experience painting billboards, are pop beyond pop. Riveting indeed and way beyond, each sporting flash points apparently unconnected. “I don’t do anecdote, I accumulate experiences,” says Rosenquist.
Rare are the pictures of André Breton lying down. This time he is reclining before Giorgio de Chirico’s Enigma of a Day (1933), as if indeed he himself were to be posing as one of those reclining Roman statues within the piazza, observing us observing him.
SURREAL ENCOUNTERS: COLLECTING THE MARVELOUS
by Mary Ann Caws
Works from the Collections of Roland Penrose, Edward James, Gabrielle Keiller and Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch
An exhibition jointly organized by SNGMA, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, where it will be shown after the only United Kingdom showing in Edinburgh.
I was mesmerized by two totally new-to-me pieces: one by Schlüter, of the Austrian school, with a whopping skull, a candle, a watch, two books (whose titles are, of course, indecipherable), and a few other tools/signs weighted with symbolic mood.
Philip Hughes, a British painter celebrated for his paintings of various walks, is exhibiting, in the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin here, some extraordinary works focusing on some “scenes from above”—in other words, scenes of the earth shot from the sky.
Saying that the divine Marquis had something to do with eroticism is a bit like saying Donald Trump has a little something not to do with truth. Beloved for every brick literally there in the face of Man Ray’s imaginary portrait of 1970 with his baleful and fleshy stare, the Marquis de Sade has haunted every subsequent surrealist discoverer of his works and perpetually-imprisoned self.
At the Agora Gallery, there opened "an immersion exhibition" entitled FIAT#LUX where Chantal Westby's paintings merge with Lénaïc Mercier's multi-media installation, in a length of light.
You walk around, you compare the weight of the sculptures with the density of the black in his drawings, the way the curves fit into one another, the way it has an impact on your mind, and physical state.
It has always been the case, as long as I have—or anyone I know has—been reading the poems of Sarah Plimpton and looking at the (apparently) drastically simple forms of the drawings she constructs that are so instantly recognizable.
The language of poetry cant be enclosed in any category, cant be summed up in any function or formula. Neither instrument nor ornament, it scans a word carrying the ages and the fleeting space, founding both stone and history, welcoming their dust. It moves about in the energy that makes and breaks empires.
one day, after so many years of not waiting / like a divine promulgation a cloud / too heavy to pass breaks: its the flood
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Prepare to be astonished. How on earth, you wonder, can a Scot woman poet and collagist possessed of an overcomingly remarkable imagination, combined with an intense involvement in Scottish history, Dante, the Victorian Romance novel and art, and in really weird animals in various beings and doings, fit so perfectly, no matter how oddly, into the San Francisco Renaissance? Prepare to meet Helen Adam.
Upon occasion and in some places, reading and looking seem to interconnect geographically, textually, visually, and personally with a kind of intensity. It seems to me to happen especially in the atelier system. With this in mind, I set out to visit the Grand Central Atelier in Long Island City, founded by the right-now-contemporary painter and teacher, Jacob Collins, a contemporary realist, known for his championship of the classical art revival.
Linda Nochlin, certainly the most influential writer ever on feminist art, was also a poet. Maura Reilly's edition of The Linda Nochlin Reader in 2015 includes the celebrated essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists” seen freshly, thirty years after, and in fact all Nochlin's essays help the reader to see freshly—not just feminist art but details and fragments, bathers and politics, Courbet and realism, and more.
Many of the European avant-garde artists who arrived in New York during World War II found themselves reaching out for a less expensive kind of living, and discovered larger studios in a rural landscape and waterscape on Long Islands South Fork.
Sarah Plimpton’s new work, Black Light, at the June Kelly Gallery is, like her other paintings and books, instantly recognizable. Never would you say: “Oh, isn’t this like ?”
Revolution has not been, at least recently and in my view, so colorfully demonstrated as here, in this staggering exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
After studying with the great and eccentric Clyfford Still at the California School of the Arts, exhibiting with the Abstract Expressionists in New York, and having endured stints of teaching on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Jon Schueler left New York in 1970 for the isolation and particular weather of the Scottish Highlands.
It is a fantastic feeling to have been here before, as we surely have, and to return here refreshed. In 1936 Alfred H. Barr, Jr. brought his Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism to the Museum of Modern Art, and traces of it survive and are now not just resurrected but, well, remembered. The present recall and revision set the same non-limits on the time and geographical framing, and so this exhibition is gratifyingly wide-ranging, from the twelfth-century to right now in 2018.
Important to so many poets and thinkers and theorists, this brilliant Japanese erstwhile neo-Dada painter and thought-provoker has to be read (seen, but more fittingly, read) with enough leisure to have the visual-verbal complications, as beautiful as they are diagrammatic, permeate your imagination.
Not far apart, about two minutes or a bit more by foot, depending on what friends you see along the way, are the two present exhibitions at Paul Kasmin Gallery, at 293 and 297 Tenth Avenue.
It would be difficult to come up with a more challenging duo than this one. The exhibition is packed with sculptures, photographs, objects, films, little magazines—nothing is lacking—but we could just stop where it starts: with those two gorgeous faces of Brancusi and Duchamp by Man Ray, from 1920 and 1934, preceded by a sweater-clad Brancusi rarely seen. Here we are given the proper spin to this remarkable dialogue.
This wonderfully hung exhibition celebrates the wondrously worded robust creative moment when a group of internationally colorful surrealists left Europe for Mexico, fleeing World War II.
The Surrealists were impassioned by the idea of the spiritual, mental, and aesthetic connections between pre-modern societies.
Many of us know Antonin Artaud first from his face. Those high cheekbones, that deeply serious stance and gesture, holding up the Bible to the Joan played by the very great Falconetti in Dreyer’s Joan of Arc at the Stake as she is about to be burned. That encounter with the flames we might see as lasting beyond his performance.
And the walls they did indeed come a-tumbling down crashing earthwards from the start of this narration of a to-be-mother, very much not-wanting-to have this child with whom she lives at the beginning, in a tower with some bats and ravens, in a “gruesome inner union.”
Given my solid reputation as a gourmande, many readers imagine me seated at a table, framed with patés and bottles, like the Gourmand of a famous poster. Thats too flattering. Its actually embellishing the truth, taking me for a cordon bleu, while I am only able to manage one dish, and give some advice somewhat brightened up by enlightened gastronomy.
I am writing here as one of the numerous persons to whom René Char has given a reason for so many things, moral, psychological, and creative. And its of his life as a résistant that Id like to write just a few words. He was not only a resistance fighter in the warto which the Leaves of Hypnos bears witnessbut a fighter all along on the moral plane, his whole life long.
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To take just the 72 pages of Stéphane Mallarmé’s Le Livre (originally posthumously published in French in 1957), at once fragmentary and yet feeling so completely itself, every time we encounter it, it seems a more astonishing piece of work.
- Translating Communities by Mary Ann Caws
- JACOB COLLINS with MARY ANN CAWS: Thinking About Ateliers by Mary Ann Caws
- A Night of Philosophy in NYC, 04-24-2015 7 P.M. To 7 A.M. by Mary Ann Caws
- Mary Ann Caws
- Max Ernst Big Brother: Teaching Staff for a School of Murderers by Mary Ann Caws
- Painters of the East End by Mary Ann Caws
- Seeing It Now by Mary Ann Caws
- SARAH PLIMPTON Black Light: New Works by Mary Ann Caws
- Mary Ann Caws on Leon Golub
- A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde by Mary Ann Caws
- James Rosenquist: His American Life by Mary Ann Caws
- JON SCHUELER 1975 1981, The New York Years by Mary Ann Caws
- Where is Surrealism Now? by Mary Ann Caws
- Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art by Mary Ann Caws
- SURREAL ENCOUNTERS: COLLECTING THE MARVELOUS Works from the Collections of Roland Penrose, Edward James, Gabrielle Keiller and Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch by Mary Ann Caws
- Arakawa: Diagrams for the Imagination by Mary Ann Caws
- The Symbolist Vision by Mary Ann Caws
- Robert Motherwell: Early Paintings | Enormity of the Possible by Mary Ann Caws
- PHILIP HUGHES: Vues d’en Haut by Mary Ann Caws
- Brancusi & Duchamp: the Art of Dialogue by Mary Ann Caws
- SADE: Artists Under the Influence by Mary Ann Caws
- Surrealism in Mexico by Mary Ann Caws
- FIAT#LUX by Mary Ann Caws
- Moon Dancers: Yup'ik Masks and the Surrealists by Mary Ann Caws
- Measuring the Weight with Richard Serra by Mary Ann Caws
- Approach of the Word by Lorand Gaspar, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws from his book Sol Absolu forthcoming from Contramundum
- I Love Being A Gourmande by Colette, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws
- Two Poems from Earth Absolute and Other Texts by Lorand Gaspar, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws
- René Char - Resistance in Every Way by Mary Ann Caws
- The Collages of Helen Adam by Mary Ann Caws
- Stéphane Mallarmé's The Book and Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard by Mary Ann Caws