Max Jacob rolls the dice

Max Jacob dice cup artcurial Jean Hugo

Among the precious books and manuscripts sold off last week at Artcurial Paris were, above, one of a limited edition of 22 vellum copies of Max Jacob’s 1917 Surrealist classic “The Dice Cup” (Le Cornet à dés) with color gouaches by Jean Hugo (1894-1984; Victor’s great-grandson), in wood engravings by Jules Germain, Robert Armanelli, and André Marliat, published in 1948 by the Nouvelle Revue Française. Estimated pre-sale by France’s largest auction house at between 200 and 300 Euros, the book and its case sold for 227 Euros. Jacob (b. 1876), an intimate of Picasso, Cocteau (he is said to have introduced them), and Apollinaire who converted to Christianity before the first World War and actively proselytized, was arrested as Jewish in 1944 and died in the Drancy transfer prison outside Paris before he could be deported. Click here to read an example from the book. Image courtesy and copyright Artcurial.

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Fake News! Fake News!

By Max Jacob
Copyright Editions Pierre Seghers 1946
Translated by Paul Ben-Itzak

If you think John Cage and Merce Cunningham were the first to toss a dice cup to create surrealist art, think again. First featured in “The Dice Cup” or “Le Cornet à dés,” published by Jacob himself in 1917. Selected by Andre Billy for inclusion in the album dedicated to the colleague of Cocteau and Picasso as part of the “Poetes d’aujourd’hui” series and published by Pierre Seghers in 1946, two years after Jacob died in the Drancy camp as he was being deported from France.

During a performance of “For the Crown” in the Paris Opera House, at the precise moment that Desdemona was singing out “My father is in Goritz and my heart is in Paris,” a shot rang out in a fifth floor lodge, then a second in the orchestra seats and instantly rope ladders were unfurled and a man began descending from the rafters; a bullet stopped him at the balcony level. Everyone in the audience was packing, and the house was full of … and of …. Neighbors were gunned down, jets of petrol ignited. The lodges were attacked, the stage was attacked, the standing room only section was attacked, and this battle lasted 18 days. It’s possible that the two sides were provisioned, I don’t know, but what I do know for certain is that the journalists converged on this gruesome spectacle, and that one of them, being under the weather, sent his mother, who was fascinated by the sangfroid of a young French gentleman who held his ground on the lip of the stage for 18 days sustained by nothing but a little bouillon. This episode of the War of the Balconies worked wonders for voluntary enlistment in the provinces. On the banks of my river alone, under my trees, I know three brothers in spanking new uniforms who embraced each other dry-eyed while their families were in the attic looking for their woolies.

Jonas Mekas’s New York

eileen mekasFrom the Dance Insider / Arts Voyager Archives: A scene from Jonas Mekas’s 2012 video “Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man.” From our review: “I could quote to you snippets from this latest Mekas marvel: a flamenco dancer in Central Park, a girl trudging through the snow outside a fence in knee-high boots, a couple carrying the largest toilet in the world across a busy Manhattan street…. but the magic is in the selection and the decoupage, the splicing and the prism, not the putative subject: “Just fragments of this world, my world, which is not so different from any other, anybody else’s world,” says Mekas, the founder of Anthology Film Archives, in one of the leitmotifs of a poetic and occasional narration whose sing-song rhythm (enhanced by the euphoric melancholy of Auguste Varkalis’s piano improvisations) matches the cadence of the images. Then a Fifth Avenue street magician appears, as if on cue, and we understand who the real wizard is.

Picabia,Francis (1879-1953)Francis Picabia, “Udnie” (Jeune fille américaine; danse) (Udnie [Young American Girl; Dance], 1913. Oil on canvas, 9′ 6 3/16″ × 9′ 10 1/8″ (290 × 300 cm). Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Paris. Purchased by the State, 1948. © 2016 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo: © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerdtchian/Dist. RMN–Grand Palais/Art Resource, New York. Featured in the major monographic exhibition Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, on view at the Museum of Modern Art through March 19.