Sensory Deprivation

Under the pretense of civilization and progress, we have managed to banish from the mind everything that may rightly or wrongly be termed superstition, or fancy; forbidden is any kind of search for truth which is not in conformance with accepted practices. It was, apparently, by pure chance that a part of our mental world which we pretended not to be concerned with any longer—and, in my opinion by far the most important part—has been brought back to light. For this we must give thanks to the discoveries of Sigmund Freud. On the basis of these discoveries a current of opinion is finally forming by means of which the human explorer will be able to carry his investigations much further, authorized as he will henceforth be not to confine himself solely to the most summary realities. The imagination is perhaps on the point of reasserting itself, of reclaiming its rights. If the depths of our mind contain within it strange forces capable of augmenting those on the surface, or of waging a victorious battle against them, there is every reason to seize them—first to seize them, then, if need be, to submit them to the control of our reason.

— André Breton, from the Manifesto of Surrealism


L’Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism

Rosalind Krauss and Jane Livingston

“The Marvelous—what Breton called ‘convulsive beauty’—is the great talismanic concept at the heart of Surrealist theory. And L’Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism demonstrates that this key concept cannot be understood without first understanding photography as its model. Virtually all historical and critical discussions of Surrealism have been plagued by the impossibility of finding any stylistic coherence within the disparate array of Surrealism’s painting and sculpture. But once photography is admitted as the prime example of the Marvelous, these problems begin to be resolved… What this book stunningly and conclusively demonstrates is that Surrealism was acutely focused on the relationship between photography and imagination. Therefore, to explore Surrealist photography is also to open onto an exciting consideration of photography’s implications for modern consciousness itself… Erotic, disquieting, disorienting, humorous and, above all, exquisite photographs—many never before published—by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Max Ernst, André Breton, Brassaï, Salvador Dali, André Kertész, Jacques-André Boiffard, Lee Miller and Hans Bellmer.”

Publisher: Abbeville
Paperback: 243 pages

Last Nights of Paris

Philippe Soupault

Published in 1928 and later translated into English by William Carlos Williams, this is one of the earliest “Dadaist novels.” A memoir of Paris in the ‘20s when the French avant-garde and American expatriates would duke it out using ideas, words and anything within reach while taking literary modernism to its peak. OAA

Publisher: Exact Change
Paperback: 179 pages

Luis Buñuel: A Critical Biography

Francesco Aranda

The life and films of Buñuel, one of the world’s best directors and a cinematic pioneer, covering over 40 years of his enigmatic career including his early, influential years at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid where he established friendships with Lorca and Dali. The three Surrealist stooges/musketeers developed independent foundations that led them through trials and successes in the world of art, culture, and politics. Spotlights Buñuel’s talents in creating texts, films and cinematic critiques from the early 1920’s through his last days. The author is the first to examine the classical Buñuelian signatures of violence, cruelty, sexual aberration, sadism and eroticism. OAA

Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 327 pages

Mad Love

André Breton

This book is not the dogmatic Surrealist stream of consciousness satire of romantic love you might expect. It is actually a deeply sentimental treatment of the chivalrous search for the biggest love possible. A love that explodes with “convulsive beauty” and represents from the depths of “the human crucible” a preordained demonstration at its most ecstatic and passionate vibrancy, decanted directly from the joy of memory.
So we move anecdotally between Breton’s passionate search for ideal love, ideal art and ideal chance as a unifying factor and valediction of everything. This is dense and charming, clarifying and inspiring. So refreshing to see romantic love included in the philosophy of revelation through “random chance.”
I always wondered about the artistic lineage of the cut-up for I felt sure there truly must be an essential missing link between Gysin’s cut-ups and Breton’s Surrealist “fortuitous” automatism. Well, here, at long, long last we have it confirmed. Mad Love, therefore, absolutely insists that it is filed, well-thumbed, on your cut-up reference bookshelves right next to Brion Gysin’s The Third Mind, Let the Mice In and Here To Go. These are the foundation stones of any and all credible past, present and future investigations of romantic art, romantic life and romantic love, which incontrovertibly and sacredly insist that they are one and the same quest and process.
Anything built from or for less than total love, total gender and total war on anything habituated as culture or character by our mindlessly billowing species is simply littering existence with cheap distractions that pointlessly extol built-in obsolescence with the sole, paltry function of consuming forever the last traces of nobility and purpose.
Brion Gysin, André Breton and the debacle of contemporary semantics so invitingly invite us to… “Let’s cut it up, to see what it really says.” FOREVER! GPO

Publisher: University of Nebraska
Paperback: 129 pages

The Magnetic Fields

André Breton and Phillipe Soupault

This automatic writing, originally published in 1919, has been recognized as the first work of literary Surrealism. “Can you have forgotten that the police force is neutral and that it has never been able to arrest the sun? No thanks, I know what time it is. Have you been shut up in this cage for long? What I need is the address of your tailor.”

Publisher: Atlas
Paperback: 192 pages

Maldoror and the Complete Works

Comte de Lautréamont

“To celebrate evil is to celebrate the good philosophically or the instigator to creation bearing the stigmata of suffering and guilt. To be victim to the Count de Lautréamont is to be superior to everyone else… the magnetic extravagance of his letters, those dark iron-fisted dictates he sent with such elegance—cordiality even… Extravagant? Of course. Those letters have that harsh extravagance of a man who rushes foward with his lyricism like an erect avenging blade in one hand or the other… .” —Antonin Artaud

Publisher: Exact Change
Paperback: 340 pages

The Man of Jasmine and Other Texts

Unica Zürn

“In 1970, Unica Zürn, the companion and lover of the Surrealist artist Hans Bellmer, threw herself from the sixth-floor window of their apartment in Paris. Her suicide was the culmination of 13 years of mental crises which are described with disarming lucidity in The Man of Jasmine, subtitled Impressions From a Mental Illness. Zürn’s mental collapse was initiated when she encountered in the real world her childhood fantasy figure, ‘the man of jasmine’: he was the writer Henri Michaux, and her meeting him plunged her into a world of hallucination in which visions of her desires, anxieties and events from her unresolved past overwhelmed her present life. Her return to ‘reality’ was constantly interrupted by alternate visionary and depressive periods. Zürn’s compelling narrative also reveals her uneasy relationship with words and language, which she attempted to resolve by the compulsive writing of anagrams. Anagrams allowed her to dissect the language of the everyday, to personalize it and to make it reveal hidden at its core astonishing messages, threats and evocations. They formed the basis of her interpretation of the split between her inner and outer lives and underpin the texts included in this selection… Zürn’s familiarity with Surrealist conceptions of the psyche and her extraordinary self-possession during the most alarming experiences are allied with her vivid descriptive powers to make this a literary as well as a psychological masterpiece.”

Publisher: Atlas
Paperback: 205 pages

Man Ray: American Artist

Neil Baldwin

Not a Dadaist biography like Man Ray’s own Self Portrait (1963), but a chronicle of the life of a man who claimed, “It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.” While most accounts on Ray look almost exclusively at his Dada and Surrealist years and focus on his photography, Baldwin presents an evenhanded approach to his entire career, stressing little-known facts, such as Ray’s determination to be taken seriously as a painter. The subtitle of this work is particularly notable, since it returns the artist to a context he had tried so hard to erase, his prior existence as Emmanuel Radnitsky, the Philadelphia son of a garment worker. With the assistance of Juliet Man Ray, the artist’s widow, the author also explores the details of Ray’s complex private life, including his numerous affairs during the expatriate heyday of the ‘20s and ‘30s. AP

Publisher: Da Capo
Paperback: 449 pages

My Last Sigh

Luis Buñuel

Written in the style of an oral history and often displaying a dreamlike logic, My Last Sigh provides a portal into the mind of cinema’s great master of the subconscious. This volume traces Buñuel’s life from his boyhood in Aragon and schooling in Madrid, to his association with the Surrealists in Paris, the years of the Spanish Civil War, his stint at MOMA’s film department in the 1940s, the Mexican cinema of the 1950s, and his later European masterpieces.
Often taking serendipitous detours to expound on such topics as the perfect martini or the relationship between Mexicans and guns, My Last Sigh recounts an artist’s life lead to the fullest and with no regrets, save one. “I hate to leave while there’s so much going on. It’s like quitting in the middle of a serial. I doubt there was so much curiosity about the world after death in the past, since in those days the world didn’t change quite so rapidly or so much. Frankly, despite my horror of the press, I’d love to rise from the grave every 10 years or so and go buy a few newspapers. Ghostly pale, sliding silently along the wall, my papers under my arm, I’d return to the cemetery and read about all the disasters in the world before falling back to sleep, safe and secure in my tomb.” JAT

Publisher: Vintage
Paperback: 256 pages


André Breton

Novelized account of the author’s obsessional and haunting relationship with a girl in Paris; explores eroticism, psychic power and insanity. With shocking honesty, Breton confronts the ultimate futility of his romantic search for a flesh-and-blood creature who embodies his fantasy of the femme-enfant, the ideal Surrealist woman.

Publisher: Grove
Paperback: 160 pages