New Book: Césaire & Picasso “Corps perdu”

The National Galleries of the Grand Palais are sponsoring the exhibition, “Aimé Césaire, Lam, Picasso ‘Nous nous sommes trouvés.’” The exhibition, organized as part of the 2011 Année des Outre-mer [2011 Year of Overseas (Departments and Territories)], takes place under the patronage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It also coincides with the beginning of UNESCO’s four-year tribute to three great twentieth century poets who symbolize the “reconciled universal”: Aimé Césaire, Pablo Neruda, and Rabindranath Tagore. [Also see previous post Art Exhibition: Aimé Césaire, Wilfredo Lam, and Pablo Picasso, Together in Paris.]

In time for the opening of this wonderful exhibition, HC Éditions has published Césaire & Picasso, « Corps perdu »: Histoire d’une rencontre (2011) by Anne Egger.

Publisher’s Description: This book tells the story of a little known meeting between the “father of Négritude” and the leader of the artistic avant-garde. The Martinican poet and the Spanish painter met during the early post-war years. In 1948, Césaire and Picasso participated in the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace, between the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto and the remains of the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, a legacy of a world that staggered in horror. Events that may have influenced their commitment to joining the PCF; events that may have also influenced the title of Césaire’s poetry collection, Corps perdu [Body Lost], which Picasso illustrated in 1949. This work is evidence of the complicity that developed between Césaire, then mayor of Fort-de-France, Martinique, and Picasso, the creator of the famous Peace Dove.

Both indomitable men recognized the same creative freedom in one another. Moreover, they discovered their mutual ties with surrealism and Africa. For the poet, descendant of slaves in search of his lost identity, turning to African heritage was the only way to recover his dignity and to reframe Caribbean specificity. The Spaniard, who wished, on the contrary, to break away from his roots, used African art to renew his formal expression, but also to denounce the barbarism of his century. While their approach came from opposite poles, they joined their anguish in one book. It is the meeting of the volcano and the Minotaur. Picasso plunged into Césaire’s poetic universe, at once lush and unbridled, to offer a few ancient fetishes. Echoing the intolerable condition imposed on the black being, half-man, half-beast, described by the poet, the painter imagined explosive hybridizations of sap, women-flowers, men-plants, sexual organs-roots…  In 1950, Corps perdu appeared in limited deluxe edition, reserved for over sixty years only for bibliophiles; this book is a unique opportunity to rediscover the poetry of Césaire illustrated by Picasso.

With a PhD in art history, Anne Egger is a researcher, writer and essayist. Specializing in the surrealists and art movements of the early 20th century, her works include the Le Surréalisme, La Révolution du regard [Surrealism, Revolution of the Gaze] (Scala, 2002) and Le Surréalisme (Cavalier Bleu, 2003). Her biography of Robert Desnos, published by Fayard in 2007, received the Émile Faguet Prize (Académie française, 2008).

For original review (in French), see http://www.montraykreyol.org/spip.php?article4496 and http://www.potomitan.info/cesaire/picasso.php

For purchasing information, see http://www.amazon.fr/C%C3%A9saire-Picasso-Corps-Histoire-rencontre/dp/2357200618

For original copies of Aimé Césaire’s Corps perdu, see http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult–picasso-pablo-1881-1973-spain-aime-cesaire-corps-perdu-2620265.htm

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