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At the North Miami Museum

Mary AnnCaws: Alice Paalen Rahon

20 February 2020
... in their bright lines and dots the set of wire marionettes she made a few years later when planning a cosmic ballet about Orion, which imagines life after the planet’s destruction by a nuclear bomb. After ‘the night of the beginning’, the Juggler appears and creates the Androgyne – uniting the genders – then the bright female Betelgeuse, the ...


Mary AnnCaws: Dadaglobe Reconstructed

7 September 2016
... Jean Crotti’s intriguing geometric forms are far too seldom seen, as are those of his wife, Suzanne Crotti, sister of Marcel Duchamp, whose gouache, Usine de mes pensées, seems to represent the factory of her thoughts, with the rectangular blocks of buildings set astride parallel railroad tracks. You could look at her infinitely complicated Broken and ...


Mary AnnCaws: Picabia's Dada

21 February 2008
I Am a Beautiful Monster 
by Francis Picabia, translated by Marc Lowenthal.
MIT, 478 pp., £22.95, October 2007, 978 0 262 16243 2
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The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris 
by George Baker.
MIT, 476 pp., £24.95, October 2007, 978 0 262 02618 5
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... A good way to set off, since it refers to Apollinaire’s poem of the same name, and announces, here, a voyage by Picabia and Apollinaire in one of Picabia’s cars, from Paris to Boulogne, and then by boat to England. This works well because of the famous photograph of Picabia behind the steering-wheel, and because the poem is right up there ...

Cards on the Table

Mary AnnCaws: Robert Desnos and Surrealism for the masses

3 June 2004
Robert Desnos, Surrealism, and the Marvellous in Everyday Life 
by Katharine Conley.
Nebraska, 270 pp., £37.95, March 2004, 0 8032 1523 1
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... This engrossing book sets out to claim something for its subject that no other English-language publication has even thought of. I do not believe that any among those of us who have written on Surrealism in general and on Robert Desnos in particular, admiring though we are of this poet who was the first to perform automatic sleep speaking (and always outperformed anyone and everyone at it) has wanted to make Conley’s claim, or indeed anything like it ...

The Artist as Fruit

Mary AnnCaws: Paula Modersohn-Becker

8 August 2013
Paula Modersohn-Becker: The First Modern Woman Artist 
by Diane Radycki.
Yale, 246 pp., £40, 0 300 18530 8
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... Rodin, introduced her to Rodin’s work, and she introduced Clara to the work of Gauguin and Cézanne. Early in 1906 Modersohn-Becker decided to leave her husband for good. Rilke-Westhoff told her own husband that Modersohn-Becker ‘lived unmarried, really, that her husband, beside whom she lives, was not able to perform sexual intercourse because of his ...


Mary AnnCaws: Roland Penrose’s notebooks

19 October 2006
Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose 
by Elizabeth Cowling.
Thames and Hudson, 408 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 500 51293 0
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... Picasso liked the mystery, was eager for no one to be sure what he would do next. Told that Joanna Drew, a curator at the Hayward Gallery, had found cocoons huddled in the slits of his Man with a Sheep, Picasso said that at Vauvenargues one day he had felt a wasps’ nest between the sheep’s legs; nothing more natural: animals lurking in the ...

I, too, am an artist

Linda Nochlin: Dora Maar

4 January 2001
Dora Maar with and without Picasso: A Biography 
by Mary AnnCaws.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.95, October 2000, 0 500 51009 1
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... and the body served up in disjunctive, bulging, meat-like slabs, an image which is, in Mary AnnCaws’s words, ‘a supreme evocation of the sheer naked violence of war’. More ambiguous, in terms of Dora Maar’s persona, is Portrait of Dora in a Garden of 10 December 1938, a full-scale formal portrait in ...

Ondine et Paradis

Mary AnnCaws: Breton in love

8 September 2011
... One late January afternoon in 1979, before taking the night train from Paris to Barcelona, I had tea with Jacqueline Lamba in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of 8 boulevard Bonne Nouvelle. I climbed the many steps more slowly than Jacqueline, who bounded up in her long skirt (like those of her friend Frida Kahlo). She was a painter, and ‘scandalously beautiful’, according to André Breton, who had married her and written L’Amour fou for her in 1937 ...

Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa

13 April 2000
The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary AnnCaws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... snapshots of your childhood, it becomes virtually impossible to distinguish the savour of your primary experience from all the parental talkovers that have developed and transmuted the family story. With Vanessa, with Charleston, I’m not sure how to peel away the private colouring from the public lines, and to date I’ve felt no great urge to try. Maybe ...
31 July 1997
Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell 
by Deborah Solomon.
Cape, 426 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 224 04242 4
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... life and thoughts are his selected diaries, Joseph Cornell’s Theatre of the Mind, edited by Mary AnnCaws, and Charles Simic’s prose poems, an inspired labour of love called Dime Store Alchemy. Cornell’s life as an artist began the day he showed his Ernst-inspired collages to Julien Levy, whose gallery ...

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