"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, November 20, 2009

Notable Art Book: Dada In Paris by Michael Sanouillet

Pretty much everything that was considered cool, experimental or groundbreaking in art, film, theater, philosophy and music in the 20th century can be traced back in one way or another to the Dada group, formed by Tristan Tzara, Hugo Ball, Jean Arp and Marcel Janco, amongst other notables. Pop Art? Thank Dada. Situationism? Thank Dada. Punk Rock? Thaaaank Dada. William S. Burrough's "cut-up" technique? Thank Dada! Experimental Theater? Thank Dada.

It all started at the Cabaret Volatire in Zurich, but Dada found its true circulatory center in post-war Paris where the group was able to interact with artists as diverse as Marcel Duchamp, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie and Guillaume Apollinaire. Even future surrealists like Andre Breton, Philip Soupault and Louis Aragon were in on the inspired chaos. More than that, however, Dada was the natural evolution of Alfred Jarry's writings (Pere Ubu, Days & Nights) and his science of pataphysics.

Sanouillet's original study has been revised and expanded by Anne Sanouillet and published in English by MIT. Dada In Paris is as good a study of the impact of the group as can be found anywhere.

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