Art and writings by Surrealist painters and poets from a wide range of countries.
While the lessons of surrealism have been pretty well assimilated by contemporary artists, the encyclopedic inclusivity of this selection, along with its global perspective and attention to women artists, provides plenty of surprises and new perspectives on this unconscious-driven movement. Renowned scholar and translator of French modernism Caws (The Eye of the Text, etc.), whose anthology Manifesto: A Century of Isms has just appeared (Forecasts, Feb. 19), makes her first, necessary act here to ignore what the rather dictatorial Andr Bretonfounder, primary theorist and tireless proselyte of the movementdeemed "surrealist" in his time, and to include work that is not just "automatic writing" or collaborative in nature, the two types of writing Breton championed most. Memoirs, poems, fables, manifestos, games and collaborative works, as well as photomontages, paintings, drawings and odd, scandalous objects, are included by artists well-known and not: Giorgio de Chirico, Man Ray, Philippe Soupault, Hans Bellmer, Kay Boyle, the founders of "negritude" Aim C saire and L opold S dar Senghor, Salvador Dal , Duchamp, Frida Kahlo, Michel Leiris, the underrecognized painter Dorothea Tanning (wife of Max Ernst), Mina Loy, Antonin Artaud, Leonora Carrington and Joseph Cornell make their appearances among many others. Because it leans more toward the painterlyi.e., imagistic and spasmodically creativeside of the movement and less toward the exacting political and philosophical side, the book can seem unfocused, and the lack of scholarly material, such as chronologies or biographic introductions, may leave one in the dark about the minor figures and how they fit in. But Caws's goal (as with Manifesto) is to present an active constellation of work beyond the canonizing and historicizing of the academy, placing the work back in the lap of the creative reader, in the here and now of the culture today. On that level, this anthology succeeds richly. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.