Mary Ann Caws

Mary Ann Caws, an art historian, literary critic, and translator, is Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature in the Graduate School of the City University of New York. She is the author, editor, or translator of more than forty books in the fields of poetry and the avant-garde.

  • Surrealist Painters and Poets

    Surrealist Painters and Poets

    An Anthology

    Mary Ann Caws

    Art and writings by Surrealist painters and poets from a wide range of countries.

    In 1951 Robert Motherwell published a collection of writings called The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology. Conceived as a sequel to that volume, Surrealist Painters and Poets: An Anthology does for Surrealism what Motherwell's book did for Dadaism. The concept and contents were discussed with Robert Motherwell and met with his enthusiastic approval.

    The essays, manifestos, poems, and texts in this anthology offer a composite picture of the Surrealists—their convictions, styles, and spirit—from the movement's beginnings in France just after World War I to its second flowering in America after World War II. The book includes writers and artists from Belgium, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Guyana, Italy, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Senegal, Uruguay, and the United States. Caws's main criterion for inclusion was that the works be the best and most representative of the different forms of Surrealism. Among others, the artists and writers include Andre Breton, Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Selavy, Max Ernst, Mina Loy, Francis Picabia, and Tristan Tzara.

    • Hardcover $75.00
    • Paperback $50.00
  • The Surrealist Look

    The Surrealist Look

    An Erotics of Encounter

    Mary Ann Caws

    How we look at Surrealism, how it looks at the objects it encounters, and how it looks from here: all these looks intertwine in this study linking Surrealism and the Baroque. Le look (whatever it might be): you have it or you don't, and Surrealism had it all the way. The emotional charge Surrealism extended to the objects of its encounter makes itself felt as at least philosophically erotic. This charged look determines the atmosphere around the Surrealist text and its encounters—in the world of art and the world it made into art. In this unprecedented attempt to make sense of the way Surrealism sees, conceals, poses, and stares at its own self and the selves of others, Mary Ann Caws examines the decors, games, portraits, transformations, and mirrorings that establish Surrealism's links to Baroque forms of representation." We have to learn to look and to read slowly," Caws writes. Her study begins with an exhortation to take one's time, for the figures in the carpet of this study are not easy, nor do they put one at ease. Take, for example, the self-portraits of Claude Cahum and Dorothea Tanning, Marcel Duchamp's creation Rrose Sélavy, the crossing of André Breton into Melusine. The constructions of Joseph Cornell and the fashionings by Man Ray meet in a space determined by the architecture of François de Nomé, Robert Desnos, and Antonin Artaud, pointed at by Marcel Duchamp in his crossings not just with Rrose but with Ludwig Wittgenstein. The game of the Exquisite Corpse has it own erotic charge, and the Baroque vanitas casts its shadow over everything from Cornell's Shadow Boxes to the game of chance. It all ends with two of Picasso's pipes, one by a skull and one in a frame play—signaling, perhaps, that Surrealism looks the way it looks and speaks the Baroque language it speaks because whoever is looking frames it that way.

    • Hardcover $60.00
    • Paperback $6.75
  • Surrealism and Women

    Surrealism and Women

    Mary Ann Caws, Rudolf E. Kuenzli, and Gwen Raaberg

    These sixteen illustrated essays present an important revision of surrealism by focusing on the works of women surrealists and their strategies to assert positions as creative subjects within a movement that regarded woman primarily as an object of masculine desire or fear.While the male surrealists attacked aspects of the bourgeois order, they reinforced the traditional patriarchal image of woman. Their emphasis on dreams, automatic writing, and the unconscious reveal some of the least inhibited masculine fantasies. The first resistance to the male surrealists' projection of the female figure arose in the writings and paintings of marginalized woman artists and writers associated with Surrealism. The essays in this collection explore the complexity of these women's works, which simultaneously employ and subvert the dominant discourse of male surrealists.

    EssaysWhat Do Little Girls Dream Of: The Insurgent Writing of Gis�le Prassinos • Finding What You Are Not Looking For • From D�jeuner en fourrure to Caroline: Meret Oppenheim's Chronicle of Surrealism • Speaking with Forked Tongues: "Male" Discourse in "Female" Surrealism? • Androgyny: Interview with Meret Oppenheim • The Body Subversive: Corporeal Imagery in Carrington, Prassinos, and Mansour • Identity Crises: Joyce Mansour's Narratives • Joyce Mansour and Egyptian Mythology • In the Interim: The Constructivist Surrealism of Kay Sage • The Flight from Passion in Leonora Carrington's Literary Work • Beauty and/Is the Beast: Animal Symbology in the Work of Leonora Carrington, Remedio Varo, and Leonor Fini • Valentine, Andr�, Paul et les autres, or the Surrealization of Valentine Hugo • Refashioning the World to the Image of Female Desire: The Collages of Aube Ell�ou�t • Eileen Agar • Statement by Dorothea Tanning

    • Paperback $35.00


  • Antonin Artaud

    Antonin Artaud

    Drawings and Portraits

    Paule Thévenin and Jacques Derrida

    Philosophical and biographical accounts of Antonin Artaud's late visual work, all reproduced in color.

    Antonin Artaud (1896–1948)—stage and film actor, director, writer, and visual artist—was a man of rage and genius. Expelled from the Surrealist movement for his refusal to renounce the theatre, he founded the Theater of Cruelty and wrote The Theater and Its Double, one of the key twentieth-century texts on the topic. Artaud spent nine years at the end of his life in asylums, undergoing electroshock treatments. Released to the care of his friends in 1946, he began to draw again.This book presents drawings and portraits from this late resurgence, all in color. Accompanying the images are texts by by Artaud's longtime friend and editor Paule Thévenin and the philosopher Jacques Derrida.

    “We won't be describing any paintings,” Derrida warns the reader. Derrida struggles with Artaud's peculiar language, punctuating his text with agitated footnotes and asides (asking at one point, “How will they translate this?”). Thévenin offers a more straightforward biographical and historical account. (It was on the walls of her apartment that Derrida first saw Artaud's paintings and drawings.) These two texts were previously published by the MIT Press in The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud without the artwork that is their subject. This book brings together art and text for the first time in English.

    • Hardcover $45.00