Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2020 Issue

Dada Data: Books and Boîtes by Marcel Duchamp and Others online 9—16 November 2020 at Sothebys.com

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Carlos Alberto Cruz a distinguished Chilean architect, art collector, and connoisseur, was also a renowned bibliophile and Honorary Director of the Sociadad de Bibliofilos Chilenos. He assembled a notable collection of Spanish Old Master paintings, drawings and sculpture and collected Colonial silver. Señor Cruz’s book-collecting categories spanned centuries and continents and not all his interests were strictly antiquarian. He also had a deep and abiding interest in the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century and collected art, photography, and books and manuscripts of the period.

 

It almost seems inevitable that a collector as wide-ranging and cerebral as Señor Cruz would develop a great interest in the books and other printed materials of Marcel Duchamp (1887- 1968).

 

 From Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec to Picasso and Matisse and on to Warhol and Hockney, the modern era produced an abundance of great artists who were also superb book illustrators. But Marcel Duchamp moved far beyond the category of book illustrator. He began his career as a rather tame Post-Impressionist, before making his mark in Cubism, Dadaism, Conceptual Art, Kinetic Art, and beyond. Though interested in visual phenomena, he sought to move beyond what he called “retinal art,” a term he first used to describe the art of Matisse.

 

 A visitor to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s austere Duchamp galleries must confront the artist’s Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) of 1915-23. That construction of glass, wire, oil paint, wood, etc, is only the outward manifestation of the total artwork. For Duchamp the idea was the work of art. His art was conceived via notes jotted down on all types of paper, mechanical drawings, mathematical calculations, chess strategies, and reading and research. All these conceptual elements were part of the composition. After creating the Large Glass, Duchamp issued The Green Box, a collection of facsimiles of his notes and calculations for the project, thus giving the interested spectator a more complete access to the artwork. Throughout his working life, the artist would issue collections of writings, replicas and miniatures of his earlier artworks, and facsimiles, carefully supervising their production. In addition to standard-format books, Duchamp created his boîtes—boxes holding unbound printed fragments, photographic reproductions and three-dimensional replicas.

 

Duchamp was particularly well-suited to bring his art into the bookish realm. In 1905, as part of his compulsory French military service, he was assigned to work with a printer in Rouen. There he developed a love of typography and printing processes. In 1913, he worked as a librarian at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, and later worked occasionally as a librarian in New York. Even Duchamp’s creation of a drag persona had its origins in bibliophilia. His feminine alter ego, Rrose Sélavy (i.e., Eros, c’est la vie) was inspired by Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s librarian and later director of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Greene was known for her stylish wardrobe and once remarked, “Just because I’m a librarian doesn’t mean I have to dress like one.” Rrose Sélavy followed suit, appearing in photographs as a chic but somewhat matronly flapper.

 

The Cruz Collection contains many of the landmark printed works created by Duchamp, often with distinguished collaborators. He was backed by gallerists and printers who made many of the works possible: P. A. B. in Paris, Arturo Schwarz in Milan, Cordier & Ekstrom in New York, and others. A list of his artistic and literary collaborators is dazzling: Man Ray, André Breton, George Hugnet, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Picabia, Octavio Paz, Robert Lebel, and others.

 

The highlight of the collection is undoubtedly the celebrated Boîte-en-Valise (pre-sale est. $150,000--$250,000), a three-dimensional monograph of Duchamp’s oeuvre comprising reproductions and miniature replicas. He once remarked, “Everything important that I have done can be put into a little suitcase.”

 

 Georges Hugnet and Duchamp’s Le septième face du dé, with photographic covers by Duchamp ($40,000--$60,000) is present, as is Le surrealism en 1947 with the notorious foam rubber breast on the cover ($8000--$12,000). For the completist (and miniaturist?) there are several diminutive volumes, incl. one of 30 copies of Possible ($4000--$6000), one of 24 copies of Quatre inédits ($2000--$3000), and an hors commerce copy of Hugnet’s Marcel Duchamp ($6000--$8000).

 

In these books and objects, Duchamp extended an open invitation: “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the extended world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contributions to the creative act.” Many have accepted this invitation, from John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Fluxus artists, Conceptual artists to Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Eve Babitz, and a host of others. Adventurous bibliophiles such as Carlos Alberto Cruz have also entered into and enriched the collaboration.

 

Here is a link to sale No. N10561.  It begins on Monday 9 November, 2020.  The last opportunities to bid are scheduled on 16 November, 2020.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until July 31</b>
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Cleveley, Jukes, & Cook - View of Charlotte Sound, New Zealand. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Peron - Platypus. $300 to $600.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Loon & Pitt - Map of the World published 1680 - <I>Orbis Terrarum nova et accuratissima tabula.</i> $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Maitres de l'Affiche by MUCHA - La Dame aux Camelias. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until July 31</b>
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Cause - Peony, Crocus, Dog's Tooth Violet. $400 to $800.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Redoute, Folio - Lemmonnier's Iris - Iris Monnieri. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Audubon, Imperial Folio - Common American Deer. $6,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Trillium, July 31:</b> Gould - Cuvier's Toucan (Ramphastos Cuvieri). $5,000 to $8,000.
  • <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> OUTHWAITE, Ida Rentoul. FROG TEACHER LEADING ELF PUPILS ... Watercolour, c.1920.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> SATO, Gyro. [GENDAI RYOKI SENTAN ZUKAN]. Tokyo : Shinchosa, 1931.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> CARROLL, Lewis. ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. London : Macmillan and Co., 1868.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> FLEMING, Ian and MILLER, Albert. CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. New York : Random House, 1968.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> PHOENIX. Adelaide : Adelaide University Union, 1939.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> BOWEN, Emmanuel. A complete map of the Southern Continent. London : 1744.
    <b>ANZAAB Highlights Catalogue:</b> NORTHFIELD, James. AUSTRALIA. Melbourne : Northfield Studios and J.E. Hackett, c.1935
  • <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies.</i> London, Tho Cotes, for Robert Allot, 1632.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> STAHL, Augusto. <i>Panorama of Rio de Janiero.</i> c.1859. 3-part albumen print panorama (266 x 1186mm.).
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> WILDE, Oscar. <i>Lady Windermere's Fan</i>. London: Elkin Mathews & John Lane, 1893. Presentation copy.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> DE TOCQUEVILLE, Alexis. <i>De la Democratie en Amerique.</i> Paris: Pagnerre, 1850. Thirteenth Edition. Presentation copy.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> CHAUDRON, A[delaide] de V[endel]. <i>Chaudron’s Spelling Book.</i> Mobile (AL): S.H. Goetzel, 1865.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> SAINT CHER, Hugh of. <i>Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, with the Abridgement of the Sentences.</i> Eastern France, illuminated manuscript., first half of the fifteenth century.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> LANE, Thomas. <i>The Crystal Palace.</i> London, 1851.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> B[ULWER], J[ohn]. <i>Anthropometamorphosis: man transform’d: or, the artificiall changling historically presented…</i> London: William Hunt, 1653.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> VOLTAIRE, François-Marie Arouet de. <i>Oeuvres de M. de Voltaire.</i> Dresden, George-Conrad Walther (i.e. Leipzig, Breitkopf), 1748-1750.
    <center><b>The Transatlantic Book Fair<br>July 22-27, 2021</b>
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> HAWKING, Stephen & Leonard Mlodinow. <i>The Grand Design.</i> London: Bantam Books, 2011.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> FIELDS, James T. <i>Yesterdays with Authors.</i> With fine manuscript letter by Charles Dickens, and autograph letters from Forster, Landor, Mitford and others.
    <b>Transatlantic Book Fair, Jul. 22-27:</b> <i>Kit, the Arkansas Traveller Broadside.</i> Chromolithograph.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jul 15:</b> Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, c. 1930. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.

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