Art of the Twentieth Century

A Reader
Edited by Jason Gaiger and Paul V'iood
Yale Uni versity Press) New Haven and Lundon
in association with The Open University
-- I \ .
o J'{U,O'It,
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f'l r HlLj
This volume accompanies the Open Univer sity course Art of the Twentieth
Century, which examines the fundamental changes that took place in the concepts
and practices of art during the last century. There are four other books in the series,
all published by Yale University Press in association with the Open Uni \Cersity:
Frameworksfor Modern Art, edited by Jason Gaiger
T he A rt of the Avanl-Gardes, edited by Steve Edwards and Paul ''''ood
Varietz"es of M odernism, edited by Paul 'Wood
T hemes in Contemporary "Irt, edi ted by Gill Perry and Paul Vrood
Jason Gaiger is a Lecturer in the History of Art at the Open University.
Paul 'Wood is a Senior Lecturer in the History of An at the Open University.
First published 2 0 03
Copyright @) 2003 select ion and editorial ma[ter, The Open University; individual
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COt\TENTS
Acknowledgements
A Note on the Presentat ion and Editing of T",lS
List of Illustrations
IX
X
Xl
Introduction XIX
I Modernism and the Crisis of Modernism
Introduction
3
Select ion of statemellts on early modernism
4
(i) Clive Bell
'Si rnpl ifi cat.ion and Design" 191 3
4
(ii) Roger Fry
'Negro Sculpture" 1920
(iii ) Carol a Gi edion-Welcker
from lVl odern Plastic A rt, 1937
10
(iv) Robert Goldwater
'A Defini tion of Primitivi sJn\ 1938
,6
( v) Shel don Cheney
from The Story if Modern A rt, '941
18
(vi) Elaine de Kooning
' Stateln ent', 1959
20
2 Meyer Schapi ro
'T he Nature of Abstract Art' , 1937
22
115
ART OF THE TWE.."TlETH CENTURY: A READH'\
"4
manner, as naturally and clearly as one could desire. Furthermore. pho­
tomontage conti nues to be the best aid for photoreportage.
Filla])y. I come to what can be termed, in opposition to the 'applied' pho­
tomontage that we have been discussing up to this point, 'free-form pho­
tomontage,' that is, an art form that has grown out of the soil of photography.
T he peculiar characteristics of photography and its approaches have opened up
a new and im_mensely fantasljc field for a creative human being: a new, magi_
cal territory, for the di scovery of which freedom is the first prerequisite. BUL
not lack of disci pline, however. Even these newly discovered possibil iti es
remain subject to the laws of form and color in creating an iJ1tegral image sur ­
face. VVhenever we want to force this ' photomatter' to yield new for ms. w('
must be prepared for a journey of discovery. we must start without any prf' ­
conceptions; most of aU, we must be open to the beauties of fortuity. Here
more than anywhere else, these beauties, wandering and extravagant, oblig­
ingly enrich our fantasy.
3. Rosalind Krauss, 'Photography in the
Service of Surrealism'
In t his essay. originally written to accompany the exhi bition 'L'Amour fou'.
Photography and Surrealism at the Hayward Gallery, London in 1986.
Rosali nd Krauss maintains that 'surrealist photography is the great
unknown. undervalued aspect of surrealist pract ice, but that nonetheless, it is
the great production of the movement'. She starts out with the identification
of a seemi ng paradox: how can photography, with its di rect, photomechani­
cal trace of the real. be employed in t he service of Surrealism's project of reor­
ganising our very conception of reality? She shows that the various mani pu­
lations to which photography was subjected in Surrealism, including dou­
blings. spaci ngs, close-ups and cropping, allowed the Surrealists to interrupt
photography' s apparently seamless relati on wit h reality. These techniques
inscribed photography with in the realm of language or signification, rather
than that of a causal imprint or 'index' of reali ty. At the same time, however.
Surrealist photographers exploited photography's privileged connection with
the real in order to 'convulse reality from within' and to show that reality itself
is already 'configured or coded or wri tten'. The essay is repinted in full from
Rosalind Krauss and Jane Livingston, 'L'Amour fou' . Photography and
Surrealism, exhi bition catalogue, Hayward Gallery/Arts Council of Great
Britain, London, 1986, pp. 15-42. We have only been able to reproduce a
limited selection of the photographs that origi nally accompanied this text. and
have renumbered the endnotes.
PART THREE: MODERt"ITY PHOTOGRAPHY
IFhen lllill we have sleepLIIg logicians, sleeping philosophers? J would like to sleep, in
order to sW7-ender myself to the dreamers ..
- J\1Wlifesto of Surrealism1
I-Jere is a paradox. It would seem that there cannot be surrealism and pho­
tography, but only surrealjsm or photography. For surrealjsm was defined
from t he start as a revol ution in values, a reorganization of the very way the
real was conceived. Therefore, as its leader and founder, the poet Andre
Breton, declared, 'for a total revision of real values, the plastic work of art wi ll
(,ither refer to a purely internal model or will cease t.o These internal
models were assembled when consciousness lapses. I n dream, in free associa­
tion, in hypnotic states, in automatism, in ecstacy or delirium, the ' pure cre­
ations of the mind' 'were able to erupt.
Now, if painting might hope to chart these depths, phoLOgraphy would
seem most unlikely as a medi um. And indeed, in the Firsl N/anifeslo oj
Surrealism (192+). Breton's aversion to ' the real fo rm of real obj ects' express­
es itseU in, for e.xample, a dislike of the literary realism of the nineteenth­
century Dove] disparaged, precisely, as photographic. 'And the descriptions!' he
depl ores. compares to their nonentity; they are simply superilTIposed
pictures taken out of a catalogue, the author ... takes e\'ery opportunity to
slip me these postcards, he tries to make me see eye to eye with him about t he
obvious.'5 Breton's own 'novel' IVadj(l, (1928). which was copi ously illustrated
with photographs exactly to obvi ate the need for such wTi tten descri ptions,
di sappointed its author as be looked at its 'illustrated part. ' For the photo­
graphs seemed to him to leave the magical places he had passed through
stripped of their aura, turned 'dead and disillusioning.'4
But that did not stop Breton from continuing to act on the call he had issued
in 1925 when he demanded. 'and when wi ll all the books that are worth any­
rhing stop being illustrated with drawings and appear only with photo­
grapbs?'5 The photographs by Man Ray and BrassaY that had ornamented the
secti ons from the novel .L'Amourfou ( 1937) that had fi rst appeared in the sur­
realist periodical lWillolaure survived in the final veTsion, fai thfully keyed to
the text with those 'word-for-word quotations . .. as in old chambermaid's
books' that had so fascinated the cri tic ' Valter Benjamin when he thought
about their anomolous presence. Thus in one of the most centTal articulations
of the surrealist exrperience of the 1930s. photography continued, as Benjam,in
said, to 'inten·ene.'6
Indeed) it had intervened all during the 1920S in tlle journals published by
the movement, journals that continually sen'ed to exemplify. to define, to man­
ifest, what it was that was surreal. :\1an Ray begins in La Revolulion sun-ealisle,
contributing six photographs to the first issue alone, to be joined by those sur·
realist artists like Magrittc who were experimenting in photomontage and later,
in Le Surrealisme au sel'1;ice de fa revolulion, by Breton as well. Tn Docwnenls it
.,6 ART OF T I-fE A R.EADER
was Jacques-Andre Boiffard who manifested the sensibility photographically.
And by the time of Minolaure's operation. i\l an Ray was working along with
Raoul Ubac and BrassaL But the issue is not just that these books and journals
contamed photographs - or tolerated t hem, as it werc. The more important fact
is that in a few of these photographs surrealism achieved. some of its supreme
images - images of far greater power t han most of what was done in the
remorselessly labored paintings and drawings that came increasingly to estab­
lish the identi ty of Breton's concept of Isurrealism and painting.'
If we look at certain of t hese photographs, we see with a shock of recog­
nition the simul taneous effect of displacement and condensation, the vcry
operations of symbol format ion, hard at work on the fl esh of the rcal. In
iVian Ray' s Monument aD. /I. F de Sade, for example, our percept ion of
nude buttocks is guided by an act of rotation, as the cruci form inner 'fra me·
for this image is tra nsformed into the fi gure of the phallus [Plate 14]' The
sense of capture that is simultaneously impl ied by this fall is then height­
ened by t he structural reciprocity between frame and image, container a nd
contained. F'or it is th e frame that counteracts the effects of the light ing on
the flesh. a luminous intensity that causes the nude body to dissolve as it
moves with increasi ng insubstantiabty toward the edges of the sheet, seem ­
ing as it goes to become as t hin as paper. Only the cruciform edges of t he
frame, rhyming " ..jth the clefts and folds of the photographed anatomy,
serve to reinject this field wit h a sense of the corporeal presence of the body.
guarantying its density by the act of drawing limits. But to caJl this body
into being is to eroticize it forever, to freeze it as the symbol of pl easur e. In
a variation on th is theme of limi ts, J\1an Ray's untitled Minotaure imagc
displaces t he visually decapit..:'lted head of a body downward to transfo r m t he
recorded torso into the face of an animal. And the cropping of t he i_mage by
the photographic frame, a croppi ng that defines the bull 's physiognomy by
the act of locating it, as it were - this cutt ing mimes the beheading by shad­
ow t hat is at work insjde the image's fi eld. So that in bot.h these photographs
a transformation of t he real occurs through the action of the franle. And in
both , each in its own way, the frame is experi enced as figurative, as redraw­
ing the elements inside it. These two images by LVIan Ray, the work of a
photographer who participated directly in the movement, are stunni ng
instances of surreal ist visual practice. But others, qualifying equally for th is
position as t he 'g'reatcst' of surreal ist images, a re not r eally by 'surrealists:
BrassaX's I nvoluntary Sculptures or his nudes fo r the journal Minotaure arc
examples. And thi s fact would seem to rai se a problem. }l or how, with th is
blurring of boundaries, can we come to understand surrealist photography?
How can we thi nk of it as an aesthetic category? Do t he photographs t hat
for m a historical cluster, either as objects made by surreal ists or chosen by
ul em, do they in fact const itute some ki nd of unified visual fi eld? And can
we conceive this field as an aesthetjc category?
PART THREE: MODERt'-'ITY A..'-'D PHOTOGRAPHY "7
Plate 14 .:\lan Ray,l\!omunenl to DA.F dJ! Sadc, 1933, gelatin silver print and ink, 2 0 x 16 em.
Israel :'.Iusewn, Jerusalem, counes), of The Vera, Silvia and Arturo Schwarz Collection of
Dada and Surrealist Art. Photo: Ih 'shalom A\"ital. C Man Ray Trust/ ADAGP. Paris and
DACS, London 2003.
"Vhat Breton himself put together, however, in the fi rst Surrealisl 1l1anifesto
was not so much an aesthetic category as it was a focus on certain states of mind
- dreams - certain criteria - the marvel ous - and certain processes - automa­
tism. T he exempla of these conditions could be picked up, as though Lhey , ..'ere
trouvailles at a flea market, al most anywhere in history. And so Breton finds the
·marvelous' in ' the romantic ruins, the modern mannequin . .. Vill ods gibbets,
Baudelaire's couches.':- And his famous incantatory list of history's surreal ists is
,,8 ART OF THE nVENTlETH CENTURY: A RRADER,
precisely the demonstration of a ' found' aesthetic., rather than one that thinks
itself through the formal coherence of, say. a period style:
Swifl is Surrealist in malice.
Sade is Surrealist in sadism.
Chateaubriand is Surrealist in exoticism.
Constant is Surrealist in politics.
Hugo is Surrealist when he isn' t stupid. 8
Tn the beginning the surrealist movement may have had its members, its
paid-up subscribers, we cOlll d say. but there were many morc complimenlluy
subscr.iptions being sent by Breton to far-off places and into the distant pasl.J.J
T his attitude, which annexed to surrealism such disparate artists as Uccello,
Gustave i\1oreau, Seurat, and Klee, seemed bent on dismantling the vcr)' notioll
of style. One is therefore not surprised at the position the poet and
Pierre took up agrullst the ' Beau.x-Arts' when he limited thc visual aes­
thetic of the movement LO memory and the pleasure of the eyes and produced a
list of those things that would produce this pleasure: streets, kiosks, automobiles.
cinema, photographs.
1O
Tn modeling what he intended as the mO\-emenl'S author­
itati\-e journal, La Revolillioll surtialiste, after the French scientific re\>1ew La
lYalure, Naville wanted to clarify that this was not an art magazine, and his deci
sion. as its editor, to include a great deal of photography was predicated precisely,
he has said, on the a\'ai lability of photography's inlages - one could fmd them
anywhcre.
1I
FOT l'\aviHe, artistic style was anathema. 'I have no tastes,' he wrote,
'except djstastc_ :vIastcrs, master-crooks, smear your canvases. E\-eryone knows
there is no surrealisl paiming. Neither the marks of a pencil abandoned to th('
accidents of gesturc, nor the image retracing the forms of the dream . . .'U
To place in this way a ban on accident and dream as the basis of a visual
styl e, thereby proscribing the very resources on which Breton depended, was
to make of himself a kind of roadblock in the direction along which surrea l­
ism was moving. Naville's struggle with Breton is acted out in the masthead
of La Revolution surrealisle, which is issued at its beginning from .i ts rue de
Grenelle headquarters, dubbed the ICentral e,' its editors listed as Naville and
peret. then is wrested from them in the third issue by Breton and moved to
the rue Fontaine, only to return for one number to the Centrale, until it is
definitively taken back home by Breton to the r ue Fontaine. ;\lany things
were at issue in this struggle, but one of them was painting_ For by the mid
die of '9!25 Breton had allowed the possibility of 'Surrealism and Painting;
in the text he produced by that name. At first he thought of it in terms of
' found' surrealists, like de Chirico or Picasso. But by March 1926 his second
installment of this essay was bent on constructing precisely what 'everyollf'
knows' t here is none of: a pi ctorial ffiO\-ement, a stylistic phenomenon, a sur­
real ist painting to go into the newly organized Galerie Surrealiste.
In going about formulating thi s thing, this style, Breton resorted to his very
PART THREE: MODERNITY AND PIiQTOGI\AJlHY
"9
own privileging of \-isuality, when in the first JVlanijeslo he had located his own
invention of psychic automatism within the experience of hypnogogic images
_ that is, of half-waking, half-dreaming visual experience. For it was out of the
priority that he wanted to give to this sensory mode - the very medium of
dream e.'\.-perience - that he thought he could institute a pictorial style.
'Surrealism and Painting' thus begins with a declaration of t he absolute
value of vision above t he other senses_13 Rejecting symboli sm's notion that art
should aspire to the condition of music, Breton rej oins that ' visual images
attain what musi c never can/ and he adds, no doubt for the benefi t of twen­
ti eth-cent ury proponents of abstracti on, 'so may ni ght continue to descend
upon the orchestra.' Breton had opened by extolling vision in terms of its
absolute immediacy, its resistance to the ali enating powers of thought. 'T he
eye exists in its savage state,' he had begun. 'T he marvels of the earth __ . have
as their sole witness the wild eye that traces all its colors back to the rainbow.'
Visioll , defined as primitive or natural, is good; it is reason, calculat.i ng, pre­
medi tated, controlling, that is bad.
No sooner, however, is the immediacy of vision established as the grounds
for an aesthetic, that it is overthrown by something else, something normally
t hought to be its opposite: wTi ting. Psychic automatism is itseU a \\Titten
form, a 'scribbling on paper,' a textual producti on_Describing the automatic
drawings of Andre i\.Jasson - the painter whose 'chemistry of t he intellect'
Breton was most drawn to - Breton presents them, too, as a kind of writing,
as essentially cursive, scriptorial , the result of 'this hand, enamoured of its
own movement and of that al one.' ' I ndeed,' he adds, ' the essenti al discovery
of surrealism is that, without preconceived intention, the pen that flows in
order to wTite and the pencil that runs in or der to draw spin an infinitely pre­
cious substance.' So preferabl e is this substance, in Breton's eyes, to the fun ­
damentally visual product of the dream, that Breton ends by giving way to a
distaste for the ' other road available to Surrealism,' namely, 'the stablizing of
dream images in the kind of still -life deception known as trompe l'oeil (and
t he very word " deception" betrays the weakness of the process).'
Now this disti nction between writi ng and yision is one of the many
omies that Breton speaks of wanting surrealism to dissolve in the hi gher syn­
thesis of a surreality that will, in this case, 'resolve the dualism of perception
and representation."4 It is an old opposition within \\Testern culture and one
that does not simply hold these two modalities to be contrasting forms of
experience, but places one higher than the other.
15
Perception is better - tTuer
_ because it is imlnediate to experience, while r epresentation must ahvays
remain suspect because it is nevcr anythi ng but a copy, a re-cr eation in anoth­
er form, a set of signs for experience. Because of its distance from the real,
representati on can thus be suspected of fTaud.
In preferring the products of a cursive automatism to those of d.ream imagery,
Breton appears to be reversing the classical prefe:rence of vision to writing. For in
120 ART OF THE nVENTtETH CENTURY: A READER
Breton's definition, it is the pictorial image that is suspect, a ' deception/ while the
cursive one is true,16
Yet this reversal only appears to overthrow the traditional Platonic dislike of
representation. In facr., because the visual imagery Breton suspects is a picture.
and thus the representation of a dream rather than the dream itself, Breton here
continues "" estern culture's fear of representation as an invitation to deceit. And
the truth of the CUTS1\'C flow of automatist wri ting or drawing deri\'cs precisely
from the faeL that this activity is less a representation of something than it is a
manifestation or recording: like tlle lines traced on paper by machines that mon­
itor heartbeats. vVhat this cursive web makes present by making visible is a direct
connection to buried miues of experjcnce. 'Automatism,' Breton declares, ' leads us
in a straight line to this region,' and t he region he had in mind is obviously the
lUlconscious.17 VVi th this directness, automatism makes the unconsci ous present.
Automatism may be wri ting, but it is not representation. It is ilnmediate to expe­
rience, untainted by the distance and extenority of signs.
But this commitment to automatism and writing as a special modality of
presence, and a consequent dislike of representation as a cheat, is not consis­
tent in Breton. As we will see, Breton expressed a great enthusiasm for signs
- and thus for representation - since representation is t he very core of his def­
inition of Convulsi\'e Beauty, and Convulsive Beauty is another term for the
Man'elous: the great talismanic concept at the heart of surrealism itself.
On the levcl of theory, these contradictions about the priorities of vision and
representation, presence and sign , perform what the contradiction between the
two poles of surreal ist art Inanjfests on the level of forlll. For the problem of how
to forge some kind of stylistical ly coberent entity out of the apparent opposition
between the abstract liquefaction of :\liro's art, on the one hand, and the dry
realism of Magritte or Dah, 0 11 the other, has continued to plague every writer
- beginning with Breton himself - who has set out to defi ne sWTealist art-Is
Automatism and dream may seem coherent as parallel functi ons of unconscious
activity. but give rise to image types that seem irreconcil ably diverse.
It is wi thin this confusion o,'cr t he nature of surrealist art that t he present
investigation of surrealist photography should be placed. }-lor to begin that
investigation with t he claim that surrealist photography is the great
unknown, undervalued aspect of surrea1i st practice, but that nonetheless, it is
the great production of the mo\·ement, is undoubtedly to write a kind of
promissory note. l\1.ight Dot this 'work be the very key to t he dilem_ma of sur­
reali st style, the catalyst for the sol ution, the magnet that attracts and there­
by organizes the particles in the field?
On t he surface of things, t his woul d seem a promise impossible to keep.
The very same diversity, so troubling to the art histori an or cri tic who tries to
think coherence into the contradictory condition of surrealist pictorial pro­
duction, repealS itself wi thin the corpus of the photographs. T he r ange of sty·
listic options taken by the photographers is enormous. There are ' straight'
PART THREE: MODERNITY Al.'(D PHOTOGRAPHY 12 1
Plate 15 Jacques-Andre Boi ffard , The Big Toe, 1C)1. 9, photograph from Georges Bataille 'I.e
gros oneil' in Documents, ,\ 0 6, 1929. Centre Pompidou-1\ I,\ \ :7\l-CCl , Pans. Photo; C
D1SL R.\lX
Plate 16 Raoul Ubac., II omaIl / Ciomi (La 1939. Centre Pompidou-!\1J. \lA \i -Cel,
Paris. DisL 0 AD AGP, Par is and DACS. London 2003.
images, sharply focused and in close-up, which vary from t he contemporane­
ous production of Neue Sachlichkeit or Bauhaus photography only in the
peculiarity of their subjects - like Boiffard's untitled photographs of big toes,
[Plate ISJ or Dora Maar's Ubu (1936), or Man Ray's hands, or Mescns' As f Ve
Understand It (Comme nous l'entendolls .. ,) ; - but sometimes, as in the
images Brassal made for L 'Amour fou, not even in that. There are photographs
that are not 'straight' but are the result of combination printing, a darkroom
maneu\'er that produces the irrational space of what could be taken to be the
image of dreams. Some of these retain the crispness and defi nition of any
contemporary Magritte or Dati; others, particularly t hose by Ubact begin to
slide into the fluid, melting condition that we associate more with the picto­
rial terms elaborated by Masson and Miro [Plate 16]. And there 'were of
course techniques associated directly with automatist procedures and the
courting of chance. Thus Ubac speaks of releasing photography from the
·rationalist arrogance' that powered its discovery and identifying it with \he
poetic movement of liberation' through 'a process identical with that of
aUlomatism.'19 Ubac's brulages, photographs in which the image is modified
by melting t he negative emulsion before printing, arc thought to be one
exampl e of t his;:lO Man Ray's rayographs - cameraless ' photograms' produced
12
3
122 ART OF THE nVE,...nlETH CE..''1T\':RY: A READER
/ / .

{ (''Uviu'tL
l! ('
Plate 17 Breton, Sc!f-Portrait: L'&riture AUlOl1lnllque, 1938, photomontage, 1+2 x 19 em.
The Vera, Silvia and Arturo Schwan. Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art at the Jsracl
Museum, JerusaJem. Photo: Avshalom A\' itaJ Q ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2003.
by placing objects directly on photographic paper. which is then exposed to
light - can be seen as another. As Ma n Rav himself said by Irecal ling t he
event more or less clearly, like the undistUIbed ashes of an object consumed
by flames,' the rayographs seemed like those precipitates from the uncon­
scious on which automat ist poetic practice was founded.
2 1
The technical diver­
sity of photographic surrealism does not end here. ' Ve must add solarization,
negative printing, cliche verret multiple exposure, photomontage, and photo
collage, noting that wi thin each of these technical categories there is the pos-
P\RT THREE: MODERI'ITY A.'\jD PHOTOGRAPln­
sibiLity of the same stylistic bifurcation (linear/ painterly or representational!
abstract) that surrealist painting exhibits.
Kowhere does this internal contradiction seem more immediately available
than in the photo collage that Andre Breton made as a self-portrait, a work
called L'Ecrit.ure aUlomalique [ Plate I :-J. For here in a single work is enshrined
the very split for which these stylist ic terms are the surrogates: vision/ writing.
Breton portrays hiJDself with a microscope, an optical instrument invented to
expand normal eyesight, to c",:tend its powers in ways not unlike those associ ­
ated with the camera itself. I Te is shown, that is to say. as the surrealist seer,
armed with vision. But th is condition of '.;siol1 produces images, and these
images are understood as a textual product, hence t.he title Automalic rf/riliflg.
There is, however, one important factor that must be added to any considera­
tion of Breton's Automalic Wn:liflg before concluding that its contradictions are
irreconcilable. It is a factor that allows one to think, as Breton seems to have been
doing here, about the relationship between phowgraphy and writing. t\ormally
we consider wTiting as absolutely banned fTom the photographic field. exilC'd by
the \'ery nature of the image - the 'message \\;thout a code' - to an c\.tcrnal
location where language fWlcLions as the ncccssary interpreter of the rnuteness
of the photographic si gn.
u
This place is the caption, the very necessity of which
produced the despair that Brecht, for example, felt about photography. Walter
Benjamin cites this hostilit)f to the 'stTaight' photograph when he quotes 'Brecht's
objection to the camera image: I}\ phowgraph of the Krupp works or GRe yield.s
almost nothing about these institutions .... Therefore something has actively w
be construcled, something artificial, somethi ng set-up.'J.3 Throughout the avant­
garde of the 1920S and 1930 5 that somethi ng, that constructed photograph, was
the photomontage, about which it could be claimed that it 'expresses not simply
the fact \vruch it shows, but also the sociallendency expressed by the fact.':q And
this notion of the montage's insistence upon meaning, on a sense of reali ty bear·
ing its OWI1 interpretation, was articulated by Aragon's reception of the '....ork of
the revolutionary artist John I Teartfield: ',\ s he was playing with the Ere of
appearance, real ity took fire around him .... 'The scraps of photographs that be
formerly manoeu'.Tcd for the pleaslue of stupefaction, lUlder his fingers begin to
signify,' The possibility of signification that AIagon saw in Hearlfleld seems to
have been llnderstood as a function of the agglomerative, constructed medium
of photo collage. Referring in another context to the separate collage elements
of Ernst's montages, Aragon compared them to ' words.'l:;
In what sense, we mi ght ask, could t.he very act of collage/ montage be
thought of as tex1.ual- as it seenlS to ha'.'e been so thought by these writers? And
is this a logic that can resolve what is contradictory in L'&n:lure automatique?
Objects metamorphosed before my very 9'l!Sj they did not assume WI allegan'cal SIlUlce or
tire personality of .fymboLs; they seemed Less lhe outgrowths 0/ all idea tilallthe idea itself.
- Louis Aragon:26
12
4
ART OF THE nVE......'T1ETH CENTURY: It. RI::ADI-: R
If these works were able to 'signify,' to articulate reality through a kind of
language, this was a function of the cell ular structure that montage exploits,
with its emphatic gaps between one shard of reality and another, gaps that in
the montages fTom the early 1920 S by the dadaists Hannah Hoch or Raoul
Hausmann left rivers of white paper to fl ow around t he individual photo
graphic units. For this cell constr uction mimi cs not the look of words but the
fo r mal preconditions of signs: the fact that they require a fundamental exte­
riority between one another. I n language t his exteriority man ifests itself as
syntax, and syntax in tur n is both a system of connection between the ele
ments of a language, and a system of separat ion, of mai ntai ni ng the differ­
ence bet ween one sign and t he next, of creating meaning t hrough the syn­
tacti cal condition of spacing.
By leaving the blanks or gaps or spaces of the page to show, dada montage
traded in the powerful resource of photographic realism for t he quali ty that
we coul d call the 'language effece' Normally, photography is as far as possible
from creating such an effect. For photography, with its technical basis in an
instantaneous recording of an event, captures what we coul d call the si mul­
taneity of real space, t he fact that space does not present itself to us as suc­
cessi\'e in nature, like time, but as pure presence. present-all-at-once. By car­
rying on its continuous surface the trace or imprint of all that vision captures
in one glance, photography nor mally functions as a kind of declaration of t he
seamlessness of reality itself. It is this seamlessness that dada photo collage
disr upts in an attempt to in fil trate reali ty with interpretati on, w'ith significa­
tion, wi th the very wTiting to which Breton refers in his own collage: ecriwre
automatique. It is this seamlessness of the photographic field t hat is fractu red
and segmented in DaIi's extraordinary collage The Phenomenon if
(Le Phenometze de I 'extase) [Plate 18]i as well , and with the similar produc­
tion of the language effect. For, within the grid that organ izes the ecstatic
images of women, we fi nd the incl usion of stri ps of different ears, taken from
t he catalogue of anatomical parts assembled by master police chief Alphonse
Berti llon that stands as ule nineteenth-century criminological attcmpt to li se
photography to constTuct the 'porlrait parlanl,' or speaking likeness, wiuless to
the last century's expectati on that, like other 'mediums,' photography could
WTest a message from the muteness of material reality.
If photo collage set up a relationshi p between photography and 'languagc,'
it did so at the sacrifice of photography's priv'ileged connection to the world.
T his is why the surrealist photographeTs, for t he most part, shunned t he col­
lage technique, seeming to have found in it a too-willing surrender of pho­
tography's hold on the real. Darkroom processes like combination printing
and double exposure were preferred to scissors and paste. For these techni ques
could preserve the seamless sur face of the final print and t hus reenforce the
sense that this image, bei ng a photograph, documents the reality from which
it is a transfer. But, at the same ti me, this image, internally ri ven by the effects
PART THREE: YIODER?-TIT AND P'-JOTQGRAPHY
12
5
Plale 18 Salvador DaH, The Phenomeflon of &Slasy, photomontage from Nos.
3- +, '4 December 1953· Courtesy of The British I.ibrary, London. BL cISo.d. 1. 0 Salvador
Dali, Gala - Salvador Dali Foundations/ OAGS, London 2003.
126 ART OF THE TIVE..r."\TlETH CEI\'TUR'i: A READER
of syntax - of spacing - would imply nonetheless that it is reality that has
composed itself as a sign.
To cOlwulse reality from within. to demonstrate it as fTactured by spacing.
became the coUectl\'C result of all that vast range of techniques to which SUT
realist photographers resorted and which they understood as producing the
characteristics of the sign. For example, solarization - in which photographic
paper is briefly exposed to light during the priJlting process, thereby altering
in varying degrees the relationship of dark and light tones, introducing ele·
ments of the photographic ncgtati\"c into the positive print - creates il strange'
effect of cloisonne, which visually walls off parts of a single space or a whole
body frolll one another, establishing in this way a kind of testimony to a clovcn
reality. Negative printing, which produces an entirely negative print, with the
momentarily unintelligible gaps that it creates within objeclS} promotes th"
same effect. But nothing creates this sense of the linguistic hold on the rcal
more than the photographic strategy of doubling. For it is doubling that pro
duces the formal rhythm of spacing - the two·step that banishes sinlultaneity.
And it is doubling that elicits the notion that to an original has been added its
copy. The double is the simulacrwn, the second, the representali\re of the orig­
inal. It comes after the first, and in this following it can only exist as figure, or
image. But in being seen in conjunction with the original, the double destroys
the pure singularity of the first. Through duplication, it opens the original to
the effect of difference, of deferral. of one· u.ling·after-another.
This sense of opening reality to deferral is one form of spacing. But dou·
bling does something else besides transmute presence into successi on. It also
marks the first in the chain as a signifying element- which is to say, doubl ing
transforms raw matter into the conventional shape of the signifier.
Linguistics describes this effect of doubling in terms of an infant"s progress
from babbling to speech. For babbling produces phonemic elements as mere
noise as opposed. to what happens when one phoneme is doubled by another.
Papa is a word rather than only a random repetition of the sound pa because
'The reduplication indicates intent on the part of the speaker; it endows th"
second syllable with a function different from that which would have been
performed by the flrst separately, or in the form of a potentially Ijmitlcss
series of identical sounds / papapapa/ produced by mere babbling. Therefore
the second / pa/ is not a repetition of the fITst, nor has it the same significa·
tion. It is a sign that, like itself, the first / pa/ too was a sign, and t hat as a pair
they fall into the category of signifiers, not of things signified.':!;
Repetition is thus the indjcator that the wild sounds of babbling have been
rendered deliberate, intentional , and that what they intend is meaning.
Doubling is in this sense the 'signjfier of signification.'
\Yithin surrealist photography, doubling also functions as the signifier of
signification. It is this semiological, rather than stylistic, condition that unites
the vast array of the movement's photographic production. As we observe t he
p\RT THREE: MODE.RXITY "1l0TQGRAPIlY 12;­
Plate 19 l-lam Bellmer,
Doll, 1936'49, silvcrprint
coloured with aniline, 41
:\ 32.9 Cffi. Centre
Pompidou. i\INA':\I-CCJ,
Paris. ., Photo:
DisL
R:,\L"I. 0 ADAGP, Paris
and DACS, London 2003.
various technical opti ons explored by surrealist photography, moving from
unmanipulated straight photography, to negative printing, to solarization, to
montage, to rayography} ulere is the constant preoccupation with doubling.
\Ye come to realize that this is not only a thematic concern. it is a structural
one. For the structure of the double produccs t he mark of the sign.
vVe find this withil1Hans Bellmer's Dolls (Poupees, 1936), where the
mechanically duplicated parts of a doll's anatomy ailo\'.- for a doubling of
these doubles and the doll herself call be composed of identical pairs of legs
mirroring each other [Plate 19]. T his can happen within the very construction
of the doU, or from the do1l's momentary arrangement for a gi\-en photo ses­
sion, or through paired prints of near-twin images. All of these are rendered
through techniques of documentary photography in which manipulation is
studiously avoided. But at other points in Bellmer's production} the doubling
can manjfest itself technically within the image, as in the double e),"posures
that multiply the multiples. Double exposure functions in ]\!an Ray's work to
produce, for example, the famous doubling of the eyes of the Afarquise
Cassali. That photographs, multiple by nature, can themselves be doubled
makes furth er doublill g available, as in the SLacking of images. Man Ray's col ·
lage of doubled breasLS in the opening number of La R evolution surrealisle
(1924) serves as one example, or, again, Frederick Sommer's similarly doubled
landscapes reproduced in the American surreali st journal VVV(1944), or Man
Ray's doubles in rayographi c form, as the mass-produced, multiple object of
the phonograph record (manufactured of translucent plastic in the days when
this work was made) is paired and tJlereby twinned. The Dislorlions, which
.28 . 29 OF THE TWEXTlETH CENTURY: A READER
Plate 20 Man Ray, SLipper- spoon, 19yh photograph. Courtesy of Telimage­
2003. C i\.Jan Ray Trust. ADAGp, Paris and DAGS, London 2003·
Andre Kertesz made in J933, e':\''P)oit the doubling of the mirror to create a
series dedicated to this effect.
As we noted beforc, surrealist photography e.xploits the very special con·
neclion to realjty with which all photography is endowed. Photography is an
imprint or transfer of the real: it is a photochemically processed trace causal­
ly connected to that thing in the world to wh.ieh it refers in a way parallel to
that of fingerprints or footprints or the rings of water that cold glasses
on tables. The photograph is thus genetically distinct from painting or sculp­
ture or drawi ng. On the frunily tree of ilnages it is closer to palm prints, deat h
masks, cast shadows, the Shroud of Turin, or the tracks of gull s on beaches.
Technically and semiologically speaking, drawing and paintings arc icons,
while photographs are
Given photography's special status with regard to the real - that is, bei.ng a
ki nd of deposit of the real itself - the mani pulations wrought by the surreal ist
photographers, the spacings and doublillgs, are intended to register the spacings
and doublings of that very reality of which this photograph is merely the faith­
ful trace. In this way the photographic medium is exploi ted to produce a para­
dox: the paradox of reality constituted as a si gn - or presence transformed into
absence, into representation, into spaci ng, into writing. ill this semiological
move surrealist photography parallels a similar move of Breton's. For Bretoll.
though he promoted as surrealist a vast heterogeneity of pictorial styles, devised
a defmition of beauty that is rather more unified and that is itself translatable
il1to semiological terms. Beauty, he said, should be convulsive.
I n explaining the nature of that convulsion in me text t hat serves as prologue
to L'Amowjou, Breton spells out the process of reality contorting or convulsing
itself into its apparent opposite, namely, a sign.29 Reality, which is present.
becomes a sign for ",..hat is absent, so t hat the world itself, rendered beautiful, is
understood as a 'forest of signs. ' In defining what he means by thi s 'indice,' this
PART THREE: MODERNITY AND PHOTOGRAPHY
sign. Breton begins to sketch a theory not of painting, but of photography.
Each of Breton's aspects or moments of convulsive beaut)' are ways of
describing the action of signs. The first - 'erolique-voiLee' - in\'okes the occur­
rence in nature of representation. as one animal imitates another or as inor­
ganic matter shapes itself to look like statuary. T he second, termed
·ezplosanle-fixe,' is related to the lexpi ration of movement.' which is to say the
experience of something that should be in motion but has been, for some rea­
son, Slopped, derailed, or as Duchanlp would have said, :delayed. ' In this
regard Breton writes, 'I am sorry not to be able to reproduce, among the illus­
trations to this text, a photograph of a very handsome locomotive after it had
been abandoned for many years to the delirium of a virgin forest.'3
0
The con­
vulsiveness, then, the arousal in front of the object is not to it perceived wi t h­
in the continuum of its natural exi stence, but detached from that flow by
means of an expiration of motion, a detachment that deprives the locomoti ve
of some part of its physica l self and turns it into a sign of the reality it no
longer possesses.
Breton's third example of convulsive beauty - 'magique-circonslancielle' ­
consists of the found object or found \'erbal fragment, both instances of objec­
tive chance, where (specifically in the case of the fowld object) an emissary
from the external world carries a message informing the recipient of his own
desire. The found object is a sign of that desire, Breton recognized this kind
of convu.lsive beauty in a slipper spoon he had found in a flea market, an
object he recognized as the fulfil1ment of a ,-..rish spoken by the automatic
phrase that had begun running through his mind some months before [Plate
20]. The phrase, cendriller-Cendrilloll, translates as 'Cinderell a ashtray.' The
flea-market obj ect - a spoon with a li ttle shoe affu.:ed to the underside of its
handle - suddenly convulsed itself into a sign when Breton began to see it as
a chain of representations in whi ch the 'shoe' was reduplicated to infinity, as
though caught in a hall of mirrors. I n addition to the little shoe under the
handle, he suddenly saw the bowl and handle of the spoon as t he front and
last of another shoe, of which the little carved slipper was only the heel. Then
he imagined thal slipper as having for its heel yet another sli pper and so on to
infinity. This chain of redupli cated and mirrored slippers Breton read as a
kind of natural writing, a set of lindices' that signi fi ed his own desire for love
and the beginning of a quest whose magical unfolding is plotted throughout
L'Amow-jou.
If we are to generalize the aesthetic of surrealism, the concept of
sive beauty is at the core of its aesthetic, a concept that reduces to an experi ­
ence of r eality transformed into representation. Surreality is, we could say,
nature convulsed into a kind of writing. The special access that photography,
as a medium, has to this experience is photography's privileged connection to
the r eaL The manipulations t hen available t o photography - what we have
been calling doubling and spacing as weB as a technique of representational
151
ART OF TWE:-:TIErH CE.....'Tl..'R'f: 1\ READER
13°
reduplicatioll, or sU·ucture en abyme- appear to document these connllsions.
The photographs are not inlerpretalions of reality, decoding it as in the
phogomontage practice of Heartfield or Hausmann. Instead, they are presen
lations of that very reality as configured or coded or \·vritten.
The experience of nature as sign or representation comes naturally, then, to
photography. This experience extends as well to the domain that is most
inherently photographic: the framing edge of the image experienced as cut or
cropped. This is possible even when the image does not seem folded from
within by means of the reduplicative strategy of doubling, when t he image is
entirely unmanipulated, like the Boiffard big toes, or the I nvoluntary
Sculptures by BrassaY, or the image of a hatted figure by Man Ray publi shed
in J\rJillotaure5
'
For, at the very boundary of the image, the camcra frame,
which essentially crops or cuts the represented element out of reality at large,
can be seen as another example of spacing.
Spacing. like the doubled phonemes of papa, is the signifier of significa­
tion, the indication of a break in t he simultaneous experience of t he real, a
rupture that issues into sequence. P hotogr aphic cropping is always experi­
enced as a ruptUIe in the continuous fabric of reality. But surreal ist photog
raphy put.s enormous pressure on that frame to make it itself read as a sign
- an empty sign, it is true, but an integer in the calculus of meaning
nonetheless, a signifier of signification. T he frame announces that, between
the part of real ity cut away and thi s part, there is a difference; and that this
segment , which the frame fra.mes, is an example of nature-as-representa­
t ion or E\"en as it announces th is experience of reality, the
camera frame, of course, controls it, configures it.3'l This it does by point of
view, as in t he :\1an I\ ay. or focal length, as in the extreme close-ups of
Brassai". But in both these instances what the camera frames, and thereby
makes visible, is the automatic writing of the world: the constant, uninter­
rupted production of signs. BrassaI's images are of those nasty pieces of
paper, like bus tickets and t heater-ticket stubs that we roll into li ttle
columns in our pockets or those pi eces of eraser that we unconsciously
knead - these are what his camera produces through the enlargements that
he published as im"oluntary sculptures. 1\1an Ray's phot ograph is one of sev
eral made to accompany an essay by dada's founding spirit, Tristan Tzara,
about the constant unconscious production of sexual imagery throughout
culture - here, in the design of hats.
The fr run e announces t he camera's ability to fmd and isolate what we could
call the world's constant production of erotic symbols, its ceaseless automatic
wTiLing. In this capacity the frame can itself be glorifi ed, not iced, represent ­
ed, as in the Ni rul Ray monwnent to the Marquis de Sade. Or it can be t here
silently, operating as spacing, as in BrassaY's seizUIe of automatic production
through his images of sculptural onanism or hi s captUTed grafitti.
I n cutting into the body of the world, stopping it, fram.ing it, spacing it.
I'.-\.I\T THREE: MODER.."rrv A..."D PHOTOGRAPHY
photography reveals that world as written. Surrealist vision and photograph­
ic vision cohere around these principles. For in the explosallle-fLXe we
er the stop-motion of the still photograph; in the erolique-voiM we see its
framing; and in the magique-circollslallcielie we find the message of its spac­
ing. Breton has thus provided us all the aesthetic theory we will e ....er need to
understand that, for sUIrea.list photography, too, 'beauty will be convulsi\'c or
it will not be.'
Andre Breton, \/am/e5loJ of Sur,.eubsm, trans. Richard Seaver and I ld£>n R. Lane (Ann \rOOr: "!l,e
U'niversity of \ Jichigan 1969), p. 12.
Andre Breton, 'Le Surrcalisll1c N 1ft peimurc: La Ret'Olullon surrialiste, no. 4 1911) , p. 18 The
compl£>t£> senes of dSaya was rollectoo in Ilr£>ton, Surrralism and Pmmin&. tran", SlIlIon \\alSOll
Taylor (New York..: I l arpt'r & Ro...., '9:-:l). runher ref£>r£>llce5 arc to this translation.
j Breton, .lIonifes.tos, p. i.
"" Andre Brelon, Yad/a. trans.. Richard Iloward (.\'ew York.: Press, 1960). p. In the preratt to
the 1963 Prellch edition (Galhmard), Breton speau of the photographs in relation to one of the
'antihterary' principles that guided Lhe creation of the book. 'The abundant photographIc illuslfa'
lion,' he writes, ' had as us obicttl\-e the elimination or all dCSC'ription- what had been chided as iIlane
in the Surrealist j\lanifeslo- and the tone that the adopted was modeled on Lhat of medlca.1
obsen.(ltioll .. .' See- Beaujour. 'Qu·est-ce que "),adja"T La Youvdle Rn'ue FrunfoiM, no. 1;1
(April I , 196;), pp. :-80"-99, ror an analYSIS of \adla's rondllion as a ' text ' that is open 10 addlUons
from what would nonnall) be \ ie-wed as hors-le.rte and the role the photographs pin' in Lhis "gard.
:; This question had begun. 'The pholographic print . . . 15 permeated with an n.lue Lhal maks
il a supremely preciow .rude or exchange' (SurrralullI and p. Yl).
ti '\ndre Breton, 'La Beautl sera ... ' no. 5 ('934), pp. 9-16. \\'alter BenJamm.
'Surrealism: lbc Last Snapshot of the E.uropean Intelligentsia,' in Reflections., trailS. Edmund
Jephrott (Xew York: Ilarrourt Brace Jovanovi ch. 19:-8), p. 183 See Rosalind Krauss,
-Irt Journal +5 (Spring 1981): n-8.
8rNon. \/onifestos, p. 16.
Ibid., p. 7.7.
I) Iksides the famous 'dictionary' defillltion or surreahsm ('II. Psychic automatism in its pure state. .').
BrelOn·s first Surrralist 'Ilen,ifnio includes an 'encyclopedia' entry iu which rnc performers of acts of
'absolute surrealism' are listed: .\ragon, Baron, Bo,rfard, Breton, Carrh-e, Cre,,...l, Oelteil, Ibnos,
EJuard, Gerard, Llmbour. i\lalkine. \Ionse, Na\-ille, '\011, Perc\, Plcon, Soupauh.. \itr&c.
10 1>lerre .\",wille, 'Beaw: Aru.' La Rhviflilon. surrialislc, no. 5 (April 19:15), p.
II As told to the author in ron'·ersatlon, \lin- ::0, 1985. '\1'1\ 1111'" also said that it was he v.hodt'\'lsed the three
pronged photo ooUage of lhe members BIllie Cenu-alc for Lhe CO\-er of the first issue of LA Rhx>/uJ/on.
surrealisre. See his aCCOllill in Pierre ),1'1\'1111"', U Temps du sllrriaJ (pans: Galilee, 19:7), pp. 99""110.
Il .\"a\'llle, 'Beaw:-Aru; p.
I) The quotations in this and the nen paragraph are from Breton, SlIrrralism and PaUltln8, pp. 68, ;0.
I .\.ndre Breton, ilceanie: reprinted in Breton, La CU ths clwmps (Pans: Saglttaire, '97'}
edition), p. 2;8.
I') Breton bere reenacu the polan:tauon between speech and wnting. presence and representauon, that
Derrida analyzes as the oppos"Iliol1$ Lhat structure Western metaphysics. See Ji\cques Ot-rnda, 0/
tram.. G.C. Spl\-ak ( Balumore: Johru Hopkins L'niversity Press, 19-;-6). The roncepl of
developed there (pp. 65.3) and in ' Freud and the Scene of Writing' (in Jacques Ocrridi\,
IIntmg and Differrllce, trails. Alall Bas.s [Chicago: t.:lli'·ersuy of Chicago Press, 1978 ]) II IInportalll
for the discussion tha t follows.
16 Thus BrelOlI insists thai 'any fOflll of cxpression In which automatism does not at least ad'ancc
undercover runs a gra\·e risk or 1I10\'ing out of the surrcalist orbit' (Surrealism and PIIUI/if/B, p. 68).
I Ibid., p. 70.
18 Wilham Rubin attempts to ronstruCl an ' ullnnsic difvtlllon oj Surrealist paUltln,l i ll his rssa)
'Toward a Critical Framework,' In/onu" ') (September 1966): 35. But becall!le he rl'pnxluC't'S the
same bipolar or bl\""alent ronceptual SLructure Lhat Bf("ton had established ill '9:15, his defimtlon mir
ART OF THE nVENTl lITH CE.,'I'TURY: A READ ER
' 3
2
ron the problems of Breton's iUi well.
Ig See Gamille BI)'ell and Raoul :'.lichelet. /lcluatwn poitlqUL ( 1955; reprinted 1I1 .\lsteel \larien.
L'AclI.nlii surrlolisu [Brussels: Lebeer· llossmano, 1979J. pp. 26g--;'O).
20 Chac describes the procedure of also callMi u a S)'5'tem of placing the glass plate
of an e.,.posed negau\'e over a heated pan of water ill order to melt the emulsion; ,It was thw a n
automausrn of destruction, a complete dissolution of the image towards an absolute formlessness. I
treated a large number of my ncgau\"e$ in this manner - the result bt-ing for the most pan disap_
pointing, except in one caM! where a woman in a bathing SUit was trarufonned IIItO 8 thunderstruck
Goddess - a photo titled "La Xebuleuse. '" On an unpublished letter to \ \ 'e!I Ge\-.en from R.aoul
t:bac, dated Dieudonne, 2 1 March, 1981.) . . .
21 )'Ian Ray, Exhibition 1921- 1928 (Stuttgart.: L G. A., 1963)'
:12 ' l\l essage without a code' is Barthes's term in his essays "nle Photographic Message' and ' IUletoric of
the Image,' See Roland Barthes, Image, 1IllS1c, Tu:l, trans. Stephen Ileath (;';ew York: I 1111 and Wang,
19n)·
23 In Walter Iknjamill, 'A Short Ihstory or Photography: trans. Stanley \I itchcll. Screen 1J (Spnng
19(2): '24·
'24 John Heartfield, the \ 'azl York: Uni\-erse Book!, 19/i), p. 16.
25 Louis Aragon, 'Joh n' I('artfield ella beaute re\'Olullonnaire' (1935), T<,primed in Aragon, u s
( Paris: I lermallll, ' 965), pp. i8--;9.
'l6 \ '18hllL'lI/ku ( Le Paysan de Pans), trans. Frederick Brown ( E.nglewood Clirrs, :-'c" Jcrsey: Prentice·
llal!, '9iO), p. 9....
'27 Claude 1.i:' ·I Strauss, The RQU.'(lIU/ the Cooked, trails, J. and D. \\'cighlm8n (l\ew York: Ilarper& 1\0 \\ .
19-;'0), pp. 359-40.
28 Photography's posItion u 8n index was fi m established by C. S. I)circe wi thin the taxonomy or signs
that he developed In 'Logic as Semiotic: The Theory or Sigm,' C.s. Peirce, PhllosophlcalWnlmgr of
Pevec, ed. Justw Buchler (:-lew York: Dover, 1955).
29 'Ine text ' La beaute sera colwulsl\'e' (pp. cil.) became the first chapter or C1mourfou.. See Andre
Breton, L 'Amour fou (Paris: Gallimard, 1957), pp. :-' 9,
30 Ibid., P. 13.
50' Boiffard's big toes accompanied the text by Georges ' Le Gros Ort('il: Docunumts, no. 6 ( '929);
Brassais Sculpwres I Im:ollln(aves appeared 111 .lflnO/oure, !los. 3-'" ( 195.3), p. 68; Mall Ray's photo.
graphs or hats illustrated Tristan Tzara's ' D'UJl Cenain Automallsme du gout,' J\!inotoun, nos.. 5-4
(1933), pp. 81- 8 ....
.}'2 Derrida analyres the frame as 'an outside which is called inside the inside to col1sut\l(e it as inside.'
See Jacques Dcrrida, "rhe Parcrgon: trans. Craig Owens, OciOMr, no. 9 (Summer 19;'9)'
4. John Szarkowski , from The Photographer's Eye
John Szarkowski worked as a photographer before becoming the curator of
photographs at the Museum of Modem Art . New York in 1962. a post that
he held until hi s retirement in 1991. Through a seri es of highly influential
exhi bitions and accompanyi ng catalogues he el aborated a moderni st
account of photography that drew heavily on the idea of vernacul ar form.
Thi s text was originally written as a catalogue essay for the exhi bition The
Photographer's Eye held in 1969 at the Museum of Modern Art . It represents
a key statement of Szarkowski 's approach and cl early lays out the fi ve ele­
ments that he held to be central to photography conceived as an art. The
follOWing extracts are taken from John Szarkowski. The Photographer's Eye.
Museum of Modern Art. New York. 1969. unpaginated. [SE]
PART THREE: MODERNITY A..'D PHOTOGRAPHY
' 33
Introduction
This book is an investigation of what photographs look like, and or why they
look that way. It is concerned with photographic style and with photographic tra­
dition: wi th the sense of possibi.lities that a photographer today takes to his work.
The invention of photography provided a radically new pi cture-making
process - a process based not on synthesi s but on selection. T he difference was
a baSIC one. Paintings were made - constructed from a storehouse of tradi ­
ti onal schemes and skills and attitudes - but photographs, as the man on the
street put it, were taken.
The di ffeTence raised a creative issue of a new order: how could this
mechani cal and mindl ess process be made to produce pictures meaningful in
human terms - pi ctures with clarity and coherence and a point of view? It
was soon demonstrated that an answer would not be fOW1 d by those who loved
too much the old forms, for in large part the photographer was berert or the
old artistic traditions. Speaking or photography Baudelaire said: 'This indus­
try, by invading the territories of art , has become ares most mortal e nemy."
And in his own ter ms of re rerence Baudelaire was haIr right; certainly t he
new medium could not satisfy old standards. The photographer must fi nd
new ways to make his meaning clear.
These new ways might be found by men who could abandon their alle­
giance to tradi t ional pictori al standards - or by the artistically ignorant, who
had no old all egiances to break. There ha\re been many of t he latter sort.
Since its earliest days, photography has been pr acticed by thousands who
shared no common traditi on or training, who were disci plined and united by
no academy or gui ld, who considered their medium variously as a science, an
art, a t rade, or an entertainment, and who were often una\vare of each other's
work. Those who invented photography were scientists and painters, but its
professional practitioners were a \"ery different lot. [ . .. J
The enor mous popularity of the new medium produced proressi onals by
the thousands - converted silversmiths, t inkers, druggists, black.smiths and
printers. If photography was a new artistic problem, such men had the advan­
tage of having nothing to unl earn. Among them they produced a fl ood of
images. In 1853 the ..VellJ- York Daily Tribune estimated that three million
daguerreotypes were bei ng produced that year.'l Some of these pictures were
the product of knowledge and skill and sensibility and invention; many were
t he product of accident, improvisati on, misunderstanding, and empirical
experiment. But whether produced by art or by luck) each picture was part of
a massive assault on our t raditional habits of seei ng.
By the latter decades of the nineteenth century the professionals and t he
serious amateurs were joined by an even larger host of casual snap-shooters. By
the early eighties the dry plate, which could be purchased rcady-to-use, had
replaced t he refractory and messy wet plate process, whi ch dernanded that the

Paul 'Wood is a Senior Lecturer in the H istory of An at the Open University.10 144. 1937 22 .lS List of Illustrations IX X Xl Introduction I Modernism and the Crisis of Modernism XIX Introd uction Selection of statemellts on early modernism (i) Clive Bell 'Si rnpl ifi cat. '941 (vi) Elaine de Kooning 'Stateln ent'.com E urope Offi(:c: sales@yaJeu p. There are four other books in the series. T he publishers have m ade every effon to trace the relevant copyright hol ders to cl ear permissions. If any have been inadvertently omitted th is is deep ly regretted and win be corrected in any fulure pr inting.ed u yalebooks. Copyrigh t Law and exce pt by r eviewers for the public press). individual items. Offi ce: saleS@preSS@ya le. edited by Jason Gaiger T he A rt of the Avanl-Gardes.co. which exam ines the fundamental changes that took place in the concepts and practices of art during the last century.yalebooks. The Open University. T his book may not be reproduced in '\\"hole or in part. edi ted by Gill Perry and P aul Vrood Jason Ga iger is a Lecturer in the History of Art at the Open University.S. a ll published by Yale University Press in association with the Open U ni \C ersity: F rameworksfor Modern Art. ed ited by Paul 'Wood T hemes in Contemporary "Irt.co. -'1 "10 f'l r HlLj COt\TENTS This volume accompanies the Open Univer sity course Art of the Twentieth Century. F irst published 2 0 03 Acknowledgements A Note on the Presentat ion and Editing of T". Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 10 . ed ited by Steve Edwards and Paul ''''ood Varietz"es of M odernism. in any for m (beyond that copying per mi t ted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.O .ion and D esign" 191 3 (ii) Roger Fry 'Negro Sculpture" 1 920 (iii) Carol a Giedion -Welcker from lV odern Plastic A rt.-I o \ J'{U.uk Printed in Great Britain by BiddIes Ltd . the contributors.9 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Libra ry Meyer Schapi ro 'T he Nature of Abstract Art'. 1937 l (iv) Robert Goldwater 'A Defini tion of PrimitivisJn \ 1938 ( v) Sheldon Cheney from The Story if Modern A rt. 1959 2 3 4 4 Copyright @) 2003 select ion and editorial ma[ter. ""rithout wr itten pe rmissi on from the publisher s.uk ww'\\'. For information about thjs and other Yale Un iversity Press publications.6 1 8 20 2003 1146'29 ISBN 0 . please contact: U. All rights reserved. 'It.300 .S.

'and whe n wi ll all the books that a re worth any­ rhing stop being illustrated with drawings and appear only with photo­ grap bs?'5 The photographs by Man Ray and BrassaY that had orn amen ted th e sections from the novel . but only surrealjsm or photography. by Breton as well. T he peculiar characteristics of photography and its approaches have opened up a new and im_ mensely fantasljc field for a creative human being: a new. originally written to accompany the exhi bition 'L 'Amour fou'. as its leader and founder. in free associa­ tion. be employed in the service of Surrealism's project of reor­ ganising our very conception of reality? She shows that the various manipu­ lations to which photography was subjected in Surrealism. He re more than anywhere else.J \1Wlifesto of Surrealism 1 3. Tn Docwnenls it . Therefore."4 ART OF THE TWE. 'L'Amour fou' . 'And the descriptions!' he depl ores. fo r the discovery of which freedom is the first prerequisite.'6 Indeed) it had intervened all during the 1920S in tlle journals published by the movement. These techniques inscribed photography with in the realm of language or signification. in order to sW7-ender myself to the dreamers . we must be open to the beauties of fortuity.' that is. precisely. takes e\'ery opportunity to slip me these postcards. to 'inten·ene. with its di rect. We have only been able to reproduce a limited selection of the photographs that origi nally accompanied this text. VVh e n e ver we want to fo rce this ' photomatter' to yield new for ms. . in the Firsl N/an ifeslo oj Surrealism (192+). in au tom atism .L'Amourfou ( 1937) that had fi rst appeared in the sur­ rea list periodical lWillolaure survived in the final veTsion. these beauties. (1928). allowed the Surrealists to interrupt photography's apparently seamless relation with reality. At the same time. Filla])y. a dislike of the literary realism of the nineteenth­ century Dove] disparaged .. w(' must be prepared fo r a jou rn ey of discovery. The essay is repinted in full fro m Rosalind Krauss and Jane Livingston. to define. however.o exist. For surrealjsm was defined from t he start as a revol ution in values.ice de fa revolulion. photography continued. oblig­ ingly enrich our fantasy. for e. IFhen lllill we have sleepLIIg logicians. contributing six photographs to the firs t issue alone. 1986. Now."TlETH CENTURY: A RE AD H'\ PART THREE: MODERt"ITY A~D PHOTOGRAPHY 115 manner. we must start without any prf' ­ conceptions.' For the photo ­ graphs seemed to him to leave the magical places he had passed through stripped of their aura. Hayward Gallery/Arts Council of Great Britain. turned 'dead and disillusio ning. I n dream .!~ These internal models were assembled when consciousness lapses. phoLOgraphy would seem most unlikely as a medi um. to man­ ifest. as naturally and clearly as one could desire. pp . in Le Surrealisme au sel'1. magi_ cal territory. in ecstacy or de lirium. Even these newly discovered possibil ities remain subject to the laws of form and color in creating an iJ1tegral image sur ­ face. Rosalind Krauss maintains that 's urrealist photography is the great unknown . 'free-form pho­ tomontage. BUL not lack of disci pline. includ ing dou­ blings. spacings. di sappointed its author as be looked at its 'illustrated part. if painting might hope to chart these depths. what it was that was surreal. which was copiously illustrated with photographs exactly to obviate the need fo r such wTi tten descri ptions. 'for a total revision of real values. London . it is the great production of the movement'. Photography and Surrealism. Photography and Surrealism at the Hayward Gallery. in opposition to the 'applied' pho­ tomontage that we have been discussing up to this point. the poet Andre Bre ton. fai th fully keyed to the text with those 'word-for-word quotations . however.xample. And indeed. wandering and extravagant.'5 Breton's own 'novel' IVadj(l. London in 1986. sleeping philosophers? J would like to sleep.'4 But that did not stop Breton from continuing to act on the call he had issued in 1925 when he demanded. pho ­ tomontage conti nu es to be the best aid for p h otoreportage. as photographic. the ' pure cre­ atio ns of the mind' 'were able to erupt. Surrealist photographers exploited photography's privileged connection with the real in order to 'convulse reality from within' and to show that reality itself is already 'configured or coded or written'. 15-42. 'Photography in the Service of Surrealism' In this essay. '~othing compares to their nonentity. undervalued aspect of surrealist practice.. they are simply superilTIposed pictures taken out of a catalogue. Rosalind Krauss. to be joined by those sur· realist artists like Magrittc who were experimenting in photomontage an d later.. as in old chambermaid's books' that had so fascinated the cri tic ' Valter Benjamin wh e n he thought about th eir anomolous prese nce. most of aU. . an art form that has grown out of the soil of photography. the plastic work of art wi ll (. journals that continually sen'ed to exemplify. Furthermore. Thus in one of the most centTal articulations of the surrealist exrperience of the 1930s. and have renumbered the endnotes. in hypnotic states. photomechani­ cal trace of the rea l.. the author . declared. :\1an Ray begins in L a Revolulion sun-ealisle. I-Jere is a paradox.. It would seem that there can not be surrealism and pho­ tography. as Benjam. a reorganization of the very way the real was conceived. I come to what can be termed.in said. he tries to make me see eye to eye with him about t he obvious. She starts out with the identification of a seeming paradox: how can photography. exhi bition catalogue. rather than that of a causal imprint or 'index' of reali ty. close-ups and cropping. but that nonetheless. Breto n's aversion to 'th e real fo rm of real objects' express­ es itseU in.ither refer to a purely internal mode l or will cease t.

we see with a sh ock of recog­ nition the simultaneous effect of d isplacement an d condensation. however. London 2003. as though Lhey . a croppi ng that defines the bull's physiognomy by the act of locating it. And in bo th . a re n ot r eally by 'surrealists: BrassaX I nvoluntary Sculptures or his nudes fo r th e journal Minotaure a rc 's examples.And his famo us incantatory list of history's surrealists is .' ere trouvailles at a flea market. can we com e to understand surrealist pho tography? H ow ca n we thi n k of it as an aesthetic category? D o t he photographs t h at for m a his torical cluster. Israel :'. And so Breton finds the ·marvelous' in 'the romantic ruins. Photo: Ih 'shalom A\"ital. either as ob jects made by surreal ists or chosen by ul em . some of its supreme images . seem ­ ing as it goes to become as t hin as paper. Villods gibbets. "Vhat Breton himself put together.l\!omunenl to DA.. 2 0 x 16 em. Silvia and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art.. our perception of nude buttocks is guided by an act of rotation . In iVian Ray's Mo nument D. 1933.~ TURY. qualifying equally for th is positio n as t he 'g'reatcst' of surreal ist images. And this fact would see m to raise a problem. The more important fact is that in a few of these photographs surrealism achieved. as it werc. with th is blurrin g of boundaries...dreams . F'or it is th e frame that counteracts the effects of the lighting on the flesh. And by the tim e of Minolaure's operation. J\1 an R ay 's untitled Minotaure imagc d isplaces t he visually deca pit.6 ART OF T I-fE n'VE>~TIETH CE.h these photog raphs a tra nsformation of t he real occurs through the action of the fran le. each in its own way. the modern mannequin . Jerusalem.jth the clefts a nd folds of th e photographed anatomy. Paris and DACS..images of far greater power t ha n most of what was done in the remorselessly labored paintings and drawings that came increasingly to esta b­ lish the identi ty of Breton's concept of Isurrealism and painting. rhymin g " .automa­ tism .and certain processes . In a variation on th is th e me of limi ts.F dJ! Sadc.EADE R PART THREE: MODERt'-'ITY A. These two images by LVIan R ay.or tolerated t hem .:\lan Ray. i\lan R ay was working along with Raoul Ubac and BrassaL But the issue is not just that these books and journals contamed photographs . for example. h ard at work on the fl esh of th e rcal. But to caJl th is body into being is to e roticize it forever.. Baudelaire's couches. as redraw­ ing th e elemen ts inside it. in the fi rst Surrealisl 1 l1anifesto was not so much an aesthetic category as it was a focus on certain states of mind .'-'D PHOTOGRAPHY "7 was Jacques-Andre Boiffard who manifested the sensibility photographically. /I. . are stun ni ng instances of surreal ist vis ual practice.' If we look at certain of t hese pho tographs. F de Sade. . Only th e cruciform edges of t he frame ...Iusewn. guarantying its density by the act of drawing limits. of The Vera. counes). co ntain er a nd contained. But oth ers.':. the vcry ope rations of sym bol formation . as it were . as the cruci form inner 'fra me· for this image is tra nsformed into the fi gure of the p hallus [Plate 14]' T h e sense of capture that is simultaneously impl ied by this fall is then height­ ened by t he structural reciprocity between frame an d im age.the marvelous . So that in bot. the frame is experienced as figurative.certain criteria . gelatin silver print and ink.:'lted head of a body down ward to trans fo r m t he recorded torso into the face of an anim al.th is cutting mimes the be heading by shad­ ow t hat is at work insjde the image's fi eld. T he exempla of these conditions could be picked up. to freeze it as the sym bol of pl easur e. And the cropping of t h e i_ mage by th e p hotograp hic frame. serve to reinject this field wit h a sense of the corporeal prese nce of the body. }lo r how. do th ey in fact const itute some ki n d of unified visual fi eld? An d ca n we conceive th is field as an aesthetjc category? a Plate 14 . C Man Ray Trust/ ADAGP. al most anywhere in history. A R. the work of a photographer who participated d irectly in the movement. a lumino us inte nsity th at causes the nude body to d issolve as it moves with increasi ng insubstantiabty toward the edges of the sheet.

he has said. a re-cr eation in anoth­ er form. scriptorial . after the French scientific re\>1ew La lYalure.8 ART OF THE nVENTlET H CENTURY: A RRADER.' its editors listed as Naville and peret. p re­ medi tated. no doubt for the benefi t of twen ­ ti eth -cent ury proponents of abstraction.that he thought he could institute a pictorial style. 'Surrealism and Painting' thus begins with a declaration of t he absolute value of vision above t he othe r senses_13 R ejecting symbolism's n otion th at art shou ld aspire to the condition of music.'\. smear your canvases.' So preferabl e is this substance. thereby proscribing the very resources on which Breton depended. in Breton's eyes. 'resolve the dualism of perception and representation. 15 Perception is better . as its editor. a sur­ real ist painting to go into the newly organized Gale rie Surrealiste.. its resistance to the alienating powers of thought. In preferring the products of a cursive automatism to those of d. then is wrested from th em in the third issue by Breton and moved to the rue Fontaine. At first he thought of it in terms of 'found' surrealists. Breton appears to be reversing the classical prefe:rence of vision to writing. PART THREE: MODERNITY AND PIiQTOGI\AJlHY "9 precisely th e demonstration of a 'found' aesth etic. enamoured of its own move me nt and of that al one. only to return for one number to the Centrale.x-Arts' when he limited thc visual aes­ thetic of the movement LO memory and the pleasure of the eyes and produced a list of those things that would produce this pleasure: streets.i ng. Hugo is Surrealist when he isn't stupid. 'so may ni ght continue to descen d upon the orchestra.' he wrote. while r epresentation must ahvays remain suspect because it is nevcr a nythi ng but a copy. 'T he marvels of the earth __ . master-crooks. Breton rej oins that 'visual images attain what musi c never can / and he adds. 'the stablizing of dream images in the kind of still-life deception known as trompe l'oeil (and t he very word " deception " betrays the weakness of the process). Naville wanted to clarify that this was not an art magazine.tTu er _ because it is imlnediate to experience. For it was out of the priority that he wanted to give to this sensory mode . that Breton ends by giving way to a distaste for the 'other road available to Surrealism. For in .. cinema. Beca use of its distance fro m the real. . the pen that flows in order to wTite and th e pencil that runs in or der to draw spin an infinitely pre­ cious substance. calculat.the painter whose 'ch emistry of t he intellect' Breton was most drawn to . a 'scribbling on paper. and his deci sion. in the text he produced by that name. 'th e essential discovery of surrealism is that. artistic style was anathema.one could fmd them anywhcre. No sooner. witho ut preconceived intention. controlling. which is issued at its beginning from . in this case. a stylistic phenomenon. say. Breton resorted to his very own privileging of \-isuality.' h e adds. that is bad. as essentially cursive.' a textual production _ Describing the automatic drawings of Andre i\. Psychic au tom atism is itseU a \\Titten form.' Visioll. La Revolillioll surtialiste. nor the image retracing the forms of the dream .J T his attitude. Chateaubriand is Surrealist in exoticism. 'I have no tastes. automobiles. to the fun ­ damenta lly visual product of the dream. representation can thus be suspected of fTaud.J. to include a great deal of photography was predicated precisely. But by March 1926 his second installment of this essay was bent on constructing precisely what 'everyollf' knows' t here is none of: a pictorial ffiO\-ement. photographs. a period style: Swifl is Surrealist in malice.r~' Pierre ~a\'ille took up agrullst the 'Beau. defined as primitive or natura l.' 'I ndeed. this style. E\-eryone knows there is no surrealisl paiming. rather than one that thinks itself through the formal coherence of.Breton presents them. . Sade is Surrealist in sadism. the resu lt of 'th is h and.iptions being sent by Bre ton to far-off places a nd into the d istant pasl. . is good. Neither the marks of a pencil abandoned to th(' accidents of gesturc.' Breton had opened by extolling vision in terms of its absolute immediacy. when in the first J Vlanijeslo he had located his own invention of psychic automatism within the experience of hypnogogic images _ that is. of half-waking.the very medium of dream e. 1I FOT l'\aviHe. it is reason. something normally t hought to be its opposite: wTi ting. which annexed to surrealism such disparate artists as Uccello.1O Tn modeling what he in tended as the mO\-emenl'Sauthor­ itati\-e journal. until it is definitively taken back hom e by Breton to the r ue Fontaine. dubbed the ICentral e.. 'T he eye exists in its savage state. In going about formulating this thing.' he had begun. Constant is Surrealist in politics. is the immediacy of vision establis hed as the grounds for an aesthetic. we cOllld say. however.' Now this disti nction between writi ng and yision is one of th e many alltin~ omies that Breton speaks of wanting surrealism to dissolve in the hi gher syn­ thesis of a surreality tha t will. and Klee. like de Chirico or P icasso. One is therefore not su rprised at the position the poet and re\'olutiona. Naville's struggle with Breton is acted out in the masthead of La R evolution surrealisle. its paid -up subscribers. on th e a\'ai lability of photography's inlages . but places one higher than th e other. have as the ir sole witness the wild eye that traces all its colors back to the rainbow. half-dreaming visual experience. as a kind of writing. 8 Tn the beginning the surrealist movement may have had its members. that it is overthrown by something else. Seurat. kiosks. a set of signs for experience. Gustave i\1oreau. but one of them was painting_For by the mid die of '9!25 Breton had allowed the possibility of 'Surrealism and Painting.i ts ru e de Gre nelle headquarters.'U To place in this way a ban on accident and dream as the basis of a visual style. seemed bent on dismantling the vcr)' n otioll of style.' namely. too. was to make of himself a kind of roadblock in the direction along which surrea l­ ism was moving.ream imagery."4 It is an old opposition within \\T estern culture an d one that does not simply hold these two modalities to be contrasting forms of experience.Jasson .\lany things were at issue in this struggle. 'except djstastc_ :vIastcrs. but there were many morc complimenlluy subscr.-perience .

has continued to plague every writer . 0 11 the other. It is ilnmediate to expe­ rience. . Par is and DACS.e gros oneil' in Documents. \ Paris. There are photographs that are not 'straight' but are the result of combination printing. and a consequent dislike of rep resentation as a cheat.' and t he region he had in mind is obviously the lUlconscious. And the truth of the CUTS1\'C flow of autom atist wri ting or drawing deri\'cs precisely from the faeL that this activity is less a representation of something than it is a manifestation or recording: like tlle lines traced on paper by m achines that mon­ itor heartbeats.120 ART OF THE nVENTtETH CENTURY: A READER PART THREE: MODERNITY Al. not even in that. so troubling to the art histori an or cri tic who tries to th ink coherence into the contrad ictory condition of surrealist pictorial pro­ duction.. .but sometimes.. The Big Toe. but it is not representation. these contradictions abo ut the priorities of vision and representation. or Man R ay's hands.'cr t he nature of surrealist art that t he present investigation of surrealist p hotography should be placed. as in th e images Brassal made for L 'Amourfou. }-lor to begin that investigation with t he claim that surrealist photography is the great unknown. London 2003. Cen tre Pompidou-!\1J. because the visual imagery Breton suspects is a picture.'(D PHOTOG RAPHY 12 1 Breton's definition. and the dry realism of Magritte or Dah. Breton expressed a great enthusiasm for signs . is undoubtedly to write a kind of promissory note.and thus for represen tation . 1939. or Mescns' As fVe Understand It (Comme nous l'entendolls . In facr. and thus th e representation of a dream rather than the dream itself. photograph from Georges Bataille 'I. but that nonetheless. particularly t hose by U bac t begin to slide into th e fluid .9. lA \i -Ce l. arc thought to be one example of t his. Breton here continues "" estern culture's fear of representation as an invitation to deceit. [Plate IS J or Dora Maar's Ubu (1936).\':\l DisL InL'~ 0 A AGP. D images. and Convulsive Beauty is an other term for the Man'elous: th e great talismanic concept at the heart of surrealism itself. undervalued aspect of surrea1ist practice.17 VVith this directness. it is the pictorial image that is suspect. Some of these retain the crispness and defi nition of any contemporary Magritte or Dati. The very same diversity. a darkroom maneu\'er that prod uces the irrational space of what could be taken to be the image of dreams.\ 0 6. others. sharply focused and in close-up. There are 'straight' Plate 15 Jacques-Andre Boi ffard .\ \ :7\l-CCl . 1C)1.beginning with Breton him self .\lX Plate 16 Raou l Ubac. melting condition that we associate more with the picto­ rial terms elaborated by Masson and Miro [Plate 16]. untainted by the distance and extenority of signs. II omaIl / Ciomi (La ~Wblllellse).16 Yet this reversal only appears to overthrow the traditional Platonic dislike of representation.who has set out to defi ne sWTealist art-Is Automatism and dream may seem coherent as parallel functions of un conscious activity. T he r ange of sty· listic options taken by th e photographers is enormous. t his would seem a promise impossible to keep. And there 'w ere of course techn iques associated directly with automatist procedures and the co urting of chance. repealS itself wi thin the corpus of the photographs. but give rise to image types th at seem irreconcilably diverse. the catalys t for the sol ution .like Boiffard's untitled photographs of big toes. 'leads us in a straight line to this region. But this commitment to automatism an d writing as a special modality of presence.cameraless 'photograms' produced . Automatism may be wri ting. which vary from t he contemporane­ ous production of Neue Sachlichkeit or Bauhaus photography only in the peculiarity of their subjects . C C~AC/ l\rNA)'J D1SL R. On the levcl of theory.:lO Man Ray's rayographs . Centre Pompidou-1\ I. l\1. presence and sign . 'Automatism. It is wi th in this confusion o. is not consis­ tent in Breton.since representation is t he very core of his def­ inition of Convulsi\'e Beauty.) .. C~AC 1\L~. it is the great produ ction of the mo\·ement. on the one hand. a 'deception / while the cursive one is true. photographs in which th e image is modified by melting t he negative emulsion before printing. For the problem of how to fo rge some kind of stylistical ly coberent entity out of the apparent opposition between the abstract liquefaction of :\liro's art. th e magnet th at attracts and there­ by organizes the particles in the field? On t he surface of th ings. vVhat this cursive web makes present by making visible is a direct connection to buried miues of experjcnce. perform what the contradiction between the two poles of surrealist art Inanjfests on the level of forlll. .'19 Ubac's brulages.igh t Dot this 'work be the ve ry key to t he dilem_ a of sur­ m realist style. Photo.' Breton declares. Pans. 1929. As we will see. automatism makes the unconscious present. Thus Ubac speaks of releasing photography from the ·rationalist arrogance' that powered its discovery and identifying it with \he poetic movement of liberation' through 'a process identical with that of aUlomatism.

can be seen as anoth er.the 'message \\. The Vera. a work called L'Ecrit. There is.h e title Automalic rf/riliflg. Kowhere does this internal contradiction seem more immediately available than in the photo collage that Andre Breton made as a self-portrait.'l:.tcrnal location where language fWlcLions as the ncccssary interpreter of the rnuteness of the photographic sign. as the surrealist seer. u This place is the caption. Aragon compared them to 'words. and photo collage. { (''Uviu'tL ~J<!-t--Ht. Referring in another context to the separate collage elements of Ernst's montages. we mi ght ask. was articulated by Aragon's reception of the '.122 ART OF THE nVE.... something artificial..'e been so thought by these writers? And is this a logic th at can resolve what is contradictory in L'&n: lure automatique? Objects metamorphosed before my very 9'l!Sj they did not assume WI allegan'cal SIlUlce or tire personality of . hence t.\ s he was playing with the Ere of appearance.ure aUlomalique [ Plate I :-J.' The possibility of signification that AIagon saw in Hearlfleld seems to have been llnderstood as a function of the agglomerative. about which it cou ld be claimed that it 'exp resses not sim ply the fact \vruch it shows. 2 1 The technica l diver­ sity of photographic surrealism does not end here. e armed with vision.Louis Aragon:26 . photomontage. constructed medium of photo collage. real ity took fire around him .'J.. photomontage. Therefore something has actively w be construcled. they seemed Less lhe outgrowths 0/ all idea tilallthe idea itself. I T is shown. by placing objects directly on photographic paper. an optical instrument invented to expand normal eyesight. could t. Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art at the Jsracl Museum. But th is condition of '. cliche verret multiple exposure.Tcd for the pleaslue of stupefaction. about the relationship between phowgraphy and writing. For here in a single work is enshrined the very split for which these stylistic terms are the surrogates: vision/ writing. Sc!f-Portrait: L '&riture AUlOl1lnllque. as Breton seems to have been doing here.. was the photo montage. one important factor that must be added to any considera ­ tion of Breton's Automalic Wn: liflg before concluding that its contradictions are irreconcilable. 'The scraps of photographs that be formerly manoeu'. something set-up.. noting that wi thin each of these technical categories there is the pos- sibiLity of the same stylistic bifurcation (linear/ painterly or representational! abstract) that surrealist painting exhibits.. Walter Benjamin cites th is hostilit)f to the 'stTaight' photograph when he quotes 'Brecht's objection to the camera image: I}\ phowgraph of the Krupp works or GRe yield. t\orm ally we consider wTiting as absolutely banned fTom the photographic field. In what sense.'\jD PHOTOGRAPln­ 12 3 ~ / / . As Ma n Rav himself said by Irecal ling t he event m ore or less clearly. JerusaJem.fymboLs. 1938. It is a factor that allows one to think. lUlder his fingers begin to signify. that constructed photograph.nlETH CE. Silvia and Arturo Schwan. which is then exposed to light . 1+2 x 19 em. and these images are understood as a textual product.he very act of collage/ montage be thought of as tex1.. ..' th e rayographs seemed like those precipitates fro m the uncon­ scious on which autom atist poetic practice was founded. on a sense of reali ty bear· ing its OWI1 interpretation.. to c".to an c\. like the undistUIbed ashes of an object consumed by flam es.siol1 produces images.':q And this notion of the montage's insistence upon meaning. London 2003. Photo: Avshalom A\'itaJ Q ADAGP.''1T\':RY: A READER . that is to say.. P\RT THREE: MODERI'ITY A.:tend its powe rs in ways not unlike those associ­ ated with the camera itself. felt about photography.thout a code' .AL-1iAt l! (' Plate 17 :~ndre Breton . however. ' Ve must add solarization. for example.ual.3 T hroughout the avan t­ garde of the 1920S and 1930 5 that somethi ng.ork of the revolutionary artist John I T eartfield: '. negative printing. but also the sociallendency expressed by the fact. the very necessity of which produced the despair that Brecht. Breton portrays hiJDself with a microscope..s almost nothing about these institutions .as it seenlS to ha'. Paris and DACS. exilC'd by the \'ery nature of the image .

documents the reality from which it is a transfer. with in the grid that organ izes the ecstatic images of women. Darkroom processes like combination printing a nd do uble exposure were prefe rred to scissors an d paste.' photography could WTest a message from the muteness of material reality. photography is as far as possible from creating such an effect. wi th the very wTiting to which Breton refers in h is own collage: ecriwre automatique. this was a function of the cell ular structure that montage exploits.' to articulate reality through a kind of language. T his is why the surrealist photographeTs. '4 December 1953· Courtesy of T he British I. For. 0 Salvador Dali. t he fact that space does not prese nt itself to us as suc­ cessi\'e in nature.d. but as pure presence. But.Salvador Dali Foundations/ OAGS. w'ith significa­ tion. and a system of separation. For this cell constr uction mimics not th e look of words but the fo r mal preconditions of signs: the fact th at they require a fundamental exte­ riority between one a nother. Gala . bei ng a photograph. we fi nd the incl usion of stri ps of differe nt ears. BL cISo. The Phenomeflon of &Slasy.12 4 ART OF THE nVE. Nos. with its em phatic gaps between one shard of reality and another. at the same ti me. gaps that in the montages fTom the early 192 0 S by the dadaists H annah Hoch or Raoul Hausmann left rivers of white paper to flow around t he individual photo graph ic units... like other 'mediums. and with the similar produc­ tion of the language effect. If ph oto collage set up a relationshi p between photography and 'languagc. RI::ADI-: R PART THREE: YIODER?-TIT AND P'-JOTQGRAPHY 12 5 If these works were able to 'signify. present-all-at-once. this image.~y (Le P henometze de I 'extase) [P late 18]i as well .' or speaking likeness. and syntax in tur n is both a system of con nection between th e ele ments of a language. It is this seamlessness that dada photo collage disr upts in an attempt to in fil trate reality with in terpretation. It is this seam lessness of the ph otographic field t hat is fractu red an d segmented in D aIi's extraordinary collage T he P henomenon if ECSla. of creating m eaning t h rough the syn ­ tacti cal condition of spacing. taken from t he catalogue of anatom ical parts assembled by master police ch ief Alp ho nse Berti llon th at stands as ule nineteenth-centu ry criminological attcmpt to lise photography to constTuct th e 'porlrait parlanl. with its techn ical basis in a n instantaneous recording of an event. Fo r these techni ques could preserve the seamless sur face of the fin al prin t an d t hus reenforce the sense that this image. like time. internally ri ven by the effects Plale 18 Salvador DaH. wiuless to the last century's expectation that. By leaving the blank s or gaps or spaces of the page to show. .+. I n language t his exteriority man ifests itself as sy nta x... seeming to have fo und in it a too-willing surre nde r of pho­ tography's hold on the real. shun ned t he col­ lage tech nique. 3. 1. captures wh at we coul d call th e si mul­ taneity of real space. Fo r photography. of m ai n tai ni ng the differ­ e nce bet ween one sign a nd t he next.' it did so at th e sacrifice of p hotography's p riv'i leged con nection to the world. photograp hy nor mally functio ns as a kind of declaration of t he seamlessness of reality itself.ibrary. London . London 2003. photomontage from ~rillo laure. By ca r­ rying on its con tinuous surface the trace or imprint of all that vision captures in one glance.' T1ETH CENTURY: It. for t he most part.. dada m ontage traded in th e powerfu l resource of photograph ic realism for t he qu ali ty that we could call the 'language effece ' Normally.

126 ART OF THE TIVE. :. But at other points in Bellmer's production} the doubling can manjfest itself technically within the image. But in being seen in conjunction with the original. Doubling is in this sense the 'signjfier of signification. to demonstrate it as fTactured by spacing. with the momentarily unintelligible gaps that it creates within objeclS} promotes th" same effect. establish ing in this way a kind of testimony to a clovcn reality.r. nor has it the same significa· tion.. Man Ray's col · lage of doubled breasLS in the opening n umber of La R evolution surrealisle (1924) serves as one example.in which photogra ph ic paper is briefly exposed to light during the priJlting process.9 Cffi. Centre Pompidou. which . like itself.' \Yithin surrealist photography. silvcrprint coloured with aniline. Paris and DACS.the two·step that banishes sinlultaneity.\L"I. to solarization. as in the SLacking of images. Linguistics describes this effect of doubling in terms of an infant"s progress from babbling to speech. of deferral. T his can happen within the very construction of the doU. All of these are rendered through tech niqu es of documentary photography in which manipulation is studiously avoided. doubl ing transforms raw matter into the conventional shape of the signifier. vVe find this withil1Hans Bellmer's Dolls (P oupees.­ of syntax . for example. the double destroys the pure singularity of the first. and t hat as a pair they fall into the category of signifiers. to negative printing. As we observe t he Plate 19 l-lam Bellmer. Papa is a word rather than only a random repetition of the sound pa because 'The reduplication indicates intent on the part of the speaker. again. solarization .. the famous doubling of the eyes of the Afarquise Cassali. introducing ele· ments of the photographic ncgtati\"c into the positive print . Through duplication. where th e mechanically duplicated parts of a doll's anatomy ailo\'.for a dou bling of these doubles and the doll herself call be composed of identical pairs of legs mirroring each other [Plate 19]."posures that multiply the multiples.RXITY A. or. of one· u. For babbling produces phonemic elements as mere noise as opposed. For example. Paris. This sense of opening reality to deferral is one form of spacing. the second. to rayography} ulere is the constant preoccupation with doubling. which visually walls off parts of a single space or a whole body frolll one another.\l~Ai\1 DisL R:. the first / pa/ too was a sign .which is to say.. as in the double e).ling·after-another. The double is the simulacrwn. to what happens when one phoneme is doubled by anothe r. multiple by nature. 1936'49 . or in the form of a potentially Ijmitlcss series of identical sounds / papapapa/ produced by mere babbling. 1936). became the coUectl\'C result of all that vast range of techniques to which SUT realist photographers resorted and which they understood as producing the characteristics of the sign. rather than stylistic. moving from unmanipulated straight photography. The Dislorlions. or image. doubling also functions as the signifier of signification. It is this semiological. or Man Ray's doubles in rayographi c form. or from the do1l's momentary arrangement for a gi\-en photo ses­ sion. 0 ADAGP. Therefore the second / pa/ is not a repetition of the fITst. To cOlwulse reality from within. .~D "1l0TQGRAPIlY 12. \Ye come to realize that this is not only a thematic concern. Doll. or through paired prints of near-twin images. But dou· bling does something else besides transmute presence into succession. condition that unites the vast array of the movement's photographic production. as the mass-produced. thereby altering in varying degrees the relationship of dark and light tones. Frederick Sommer's similarly doubled landscapes reproduced in the American surrealist journal VVV(1944 ). Repetition is thus the indjcator that the wild sounds of babbling have been rendered deliberate. various technical options explored by surrealist photography.creates il strange' effect of cloisonne. the representali\re of the orig­ inal. London 2003."\TlETH CEI\'TUR'i: A READE R p\RT THREE: MODE. 41 :\ 32. Double exposure functions in ]\!an Ray's work to produce. not of things signified. it is a structural one.':!. It also marks the first in the chain as a signifying element. And it is doubling that elicits the notion that to an original has been added its copy. and that what they intend is meaning.. intentional. it endows th" second syllable with a function different from that which would have been performed by the flrst separately. and in this following it can only exist as figure. Photo: C~AC . It is a sign that. i\INA':\I-CCJ . Negative printing. multiple object of the phonograph record (manufactured of translucent plastic in the days when th is work was made) is paired and tJlereby twinned. But nothing creates this sense of the linguistic hold on the rcal more than the photographic strategy of doubling. It comes after the first. whic h produces an entirely negative print. it opens the original to the effect of difference. That photographs. For it is doubling that pro duces the formal rhythm of spacing . can themselves be doubled makes furth er doublillg available.of spacing . to montage.would imply nonetheless that it is reality that has composed itself as a sign. For the structure of the double produccs t he mark of the sign.

translates as 'Cinderella ashtray. into representation. C i\. I n explaining the nature of th at convu lsion in me text t hat serves as pro logue to L 'Amowjou. Tech nically and semiologically speaking.i eh it refers in a way parallel to that of fingerprints or footprints or the rings of water that cold glasses l ea\"(~ on tables. Breton recognized this kind of convu. The first . or the tracks of gulls on beaches.'erolique-voiLee' .28 . Then he imagined thal slipper as h aving for its heel yet another sli pper an d so on to infinity. The phrase. deat h masks. but detached from th at flow by means of an expiration of motion. Fo r Bretoll.th e mani pulations wro ught by the surreal ist photographers. a concept that reduces to an experi ­ ence of r eality transformed into representation. derailed. so t hat the world itself. a photograph of a very handsome locomotive after it had bee n abandoned for m any years to th e delirium of a virgin forest. while photographs are indexes. 'I am sorry not to be able to reproduce. the Shroud of Turin. becomes a sign fo r ".'magique-circonslancielle' ­ consists of the found object or found \'erbal fragment.' is related to the lexpi ration of movement. Breton spells out the process of reality contorting or convulsing itself into its apparent opposite. cast shadows. as a medium.29 Plate 20 Man Ray. Th is chain of reduplicated an d mirrored slippers Bre ton read as a kin d of natural writing. nature convulsed into a kind of writing. ADAGp. e':\''P)oit the doubling of the m irror to create a series dedicated to this effect.ng a ki nd of deposit of the real itself . the con cept of convul~ sive beauty is at the co re of its aesthetic. the spacin gs and doublillgs. both instances of objec­ tive chance. In this way the photographic medium is exploi ted to produce a para­ dox: the paradox of reality constituted as a sign .. Slopped. are intended to register the spacings and doublings of that very reality of which this photograph is merely the faith­ ful trace.suddenly convulsed itself into a sign when Breton began to see it as a chain of representations in whi ch the 'shoe' was red uplicated to infinity.spoon. bei. among the illus­ trations to this text. The found object is a sign of that desire. Surreality is.'3 0 T he con ­ vulsiveness. a sign.lsive beauty in a slipper spoon he had found in a flea market..rish spoken by the automatic ph rase that had begun running th rough his mind some months before [Plate 20]. into writing. we could say. cendriller-Cendrilloll. termed ·ezplosanle-fixe. Breton begins to sketch a theory not of painting. Courtesy of Telim age­ 2003. ill this semiological move surrealist photography parallels a similar move of Breton's.~8 Given photography's special status with regard to the real .29 Reality.or presence transformed into absence.in\'okes the occur­ rence in nature of representation. The photograph is th us genetically distinct from pain ting or sculp­ ture or drawi ng. he suddenly saw th e bowl an d handle of the spoon as t he front an d last of another shoe. If we are to generalize the aesth e tic of surrealism.a spoon with a li ttle shoe affu. but of photography. ploits the very special con · x neclion to realjty with which all photography is endowed. drawing and paintings arc icons.' which is to say the experience of something that should be in motion but has been.' In this regard Breton writes. has to this experience is photography's privileged connectio n to the r eaL The manipulations t hen available to photography .. is understood as a 'forest of signs.' this sign.:ed to the underside of its handle . as though ca ught in a hall of mirrors. On the frunily tree of ilnages it is closer to palm prin ts. a set of lindices' that signi fi ed his own desire for love and th e beginning of a quest whose magical unfolding is plotted throughout L'Amow-jou. or as Duchanlp would have said. 19yh photograph. should be convulsive. rendered beautiful. devised a defmition of beauty that is rather more un ified and that is itself translatable il1to semiological terms. Photography is an imprint or transfer of the real: it is a photochemically processed trace causal­ ly connected to that thing in the world to wh. :delayed.Jan Ray Trust. namely.' The flea-market object . surrealist photography e.that is.. a detach ment that deprives the locomoti ve of some part of its physica l self and turns it into a sign of the reality it no longer possesses.-.wh at we have been calling doubling and spacing as weB as a technique of representational . Breton's third example of convulsive beauty . Beauty.~RT OF THE TWEX TlETH CENTURY: A READER PART THREE: MODERNITY AND PHOTOGRAPHY .hat is absent. Each of Breton's aspects or moments of convulsive beaut)' are ways of describing the action of signs. an object he recognized as the fulfil1m ent of a . T he second. though he prom oted as surrealist a vast heterogeneity of pictorial styles.' In defining what he means by thi s 'indice. London 2003· Andre Kertesz made in J933. as one animal imitates another or as inor­ ganic matter sh apes itself to look like statuary. then. wh ich is present. T he special access th at photography. he said. for some rea­ son. SLipper. of wh ich the little carved slipper was only the hee l. As we noted beforc. I n addition to the little shoe und er the ha ndle. where (specifically in the case of the fowld object) an emissary from the external world carries a message informing the recipient of his own desire. Paris and DAGS. the arousal in front of the object is not to it perceived wi t h ­ in the continuum of its natural existence. into spacing.

it is true. p.lue Lhal maks il a supremely preciow . no.(ltioll .rte and the role the photographs pin' in Lhis "gard. 5 (April 19:15). noticed. 'Le Surrcalisll1c N 1ft peimurc: La Ret'Olullon surrialiste. Ibnos.s [Chicago: t.. 12. 'The abundant photographIc illuslfa' lion. 15 permeated with an emoti~·f' n. \/onif stos. 70. p. Plcon.I\T THREE: MODER. Oelteil. Na\-ille. :-80"-99. . trails.'R'f: 1\ READER I'. Richard Iloward (. II As told to the author in ron'·ersatlon. ~7. but an integer in the calculus of meaning nonetheless. like bus tickets and t heater-ticket stubs that we roll into li ttle columns in our pockets or those pi eces of eraser th at we unconscious ly knead . The photographs are not inlerpretalions of reality. e ~ Ibid. pp. 10 1 >lerre . '9:-:l). This is possible even when the image does not seem folded from within by means of the reduplicative strategy of doubling. Spacing. In th is capacity the fram e can itself be glorified. that Derrida analyzes as the oppos"Iliol1$ Lhat structure Western metaphysics.' Andre Breton. 99""110.l ill his rssa) 18 'Toward a Critical Framework."D PHOTOGRAPHY 1 1 5 reduplicatioll.. Yad/a.7. 1960). Yl). 183 See Rosalind Krauss. 1. the ind ication of a break in t he simultaneous experience of t he rea l. 5 ('934). of course.l. Llmbour. '\011. :. Spl\-ak ( Balumore: Johru Hopkins L'niversity Press.s enormous pressure on that frame to make it itself read as a sign . like the doubled phonemes of papa. about the constant unconscious production of sexual imagery throughout culture . "" Andre Brelon. But surreal ist photog raphy put. ror an analYSIS of \adla's rondllion as a 'text' that is open 10 addlUons from what would nonnall) be \ ie-wed as hors-le. '\1'1\ 1111'" also said that it was he v. is an example of nature-as -representa­ tion or n ature~as-si gn. 4 (JIJI~' 1911) . IIntmg and Differrllce. a signifier of signification.. BrassaI's images are of those nasty pieces of paper. which essentially crops or cuts the represented element out of reality at large. Breton.'). 15~. EJuard. as in t he :\1an I\ay. too.ndre Breton.. Soupauh. like the Boiffard big toes. when t he im age is en tirely unmanipulated. p. . 196. tram. 16 Thus BrelOlI insists thai 'any fOflll of cxpression In which automatism does not at least ad'ancc undercover runs a gra\·e risk or 1I10\'ing out of the surrcalist orbit' (Surrealism and PIIUI/if/B. i\lalkine.. can be seen as another example of spacing. Edmund Jephrott (Xew York: Ilarrourt Brace Jovanovich... Carrh-e. at the very boundary of the image. 1 obsen. '~ight""""alkers.and the tone that the narrati~e adopted was modeled on Lhat of medlca.ing it. his defimtlon mir .. p. \/am/e5loJ of Sur. a rupture that issues into sequence.3'l Th is it does by poin t of view.uropean Intelligentsia.. co nfigures it. Surrralism and Pmmin&. See Ji\cques Ot-rnda.. I~ Ibid. 'Surrealism: lbc Last Snapshot of the E.rfard. there is a difference. Tristan Tzara. and in the magique-circollslallcielie we find the message of its spac­ ing. ' had as us obicttl\-e the elimination or all dCSC'ription.~11chel Beaujour.. Lane (Ann \rOOr: "!l. spacing it.appear to document these connllsio ns.eubsm. 1985.' -Irt Journal +5 (Spring 1981): n-8.. I) Iksides the famous 'dictionary' defillltion or surreahsm ('II. BrelOn·s first Surrralist 'Ilen. Wilham Rubin attempts to ronstruCl an 'ullnnsic difvtlllon oj Surrealist paUltln. Or it can be t here silently. represe nt­ ed. no.' La Rhviflilon. reprinted in Breton. p. La CU ths clwmps (Pans: Saglttaire. or the I nvoluntary Sculptures by BrassaY. trans. Perc\. \Ionse. Fo r in the explosallle-fLXe we discov~ er the stop-motion of the still photograph.. T he frame announces that. Cre.er need to understand that. .list photography. 8rNon. the camcra frame. SlIlIon \\alSOll Taylor (New York. in the erolique-voiM we see its fram ing..\.' See. no. See his aCCOllill in Pierre ).\".what had been chided as iIlane in the Surrealist j\lanifeslo. Breton speau of the photographs in relation to one of the 'antihterary' principles that guided Lhe creation of the book.\ragon. \\'alter BenJamm. Instead.here."rrv A. pp. 'Qu·est-ce que "). I') Breton bere reenacu the polan:tauon between speech and wnting. in the design of hats.hodt'\'lsed the three pronged photo ooUage of lhe members BIllie Cenu-alc for Lhe CO\-er of the first issue of LA R hx>/uJ/on. Bo.-\. 'beauty will be convulsi\'c or it will not be. p. 18 The compl£>t£> senes of dSaya was rollectoo in Ilr£>ton. 19-. 'Beaw: Aru. p.. I ~ . The fr run e anno unces t he camera's ability to fm d and isolate what we cou ld call the world's constant production of erotic symbols.an empty sign. '97'} edition). SlIrrralism and PaUltln8. for sUIrea..tos.. 68. as in the extreme close-ups of Brassai". presence and representauon. p. as in BrassaY's seizUIe of automatic production through his images of sculptural onanism or his captUTed grafitti. But becall!le he rl'pnxluC't'S the same bipolar or bl\""alent ronceptual SLructure Lhat Bf("ton had established ill '9:15. stopping it. Richard Seaver and I ld£>n R. This experience extends as well to the domain that is most inherently photographic: the framing edge of the image experienced as cut or cropped. is the signifier of significa ­ tion. . Alall Bas.13° ART OF TH~: TWE:-:TIErH CE.:lli'·ersuy of Chicago Press.. as in the Ni rul Ray monwnent to the Marquis de Sade.' In/onu" ') (September 1966): 35.wille. and that th is segment.. Andre Breton. ' \lmolo~.. Psychic automatism in its pure state.e U'niversity of \ Jichigan Pr<~. runher ref£>r£>llce5 arc to this translation. I n cutting into the body of the world. or sU·ucture en abyme.. Gerard.. 1969). decoding it as in the phogomontage practice of Heartfield or H ausmann.0.. i. 9-16. U Temps du sllrriaJ (pans: Galilee. In the preratt to the 1963 Prellch edition (Galhmard).' in Reflections.3) and in ' Freud and the Scene of Writing' (in Jacques Ocrridi\.). \lin. ~:-.' he writes. '9~) . surrialislc. p. 68).8.\'ew York. 65. 19:-8). 2. p...lIonifes. operating as spacing. E\"en as it announces th is experience of rea lity. trans. The roncepl of ~pacmg developed there (pp. ilceanie: (19·~8 ). surrealisre.. Surrealist vision and photograph­ ic vision cohe re around these principles. 1978 ]) II IInportalll for the discussion tha t follows. fram. pp. p. no. uninter ­ rupted production of signs. G.adja"T La Youvdle Rn'ue FrunfoiM.C.ifnio includes an 'encycloped ia' entry iu which rnc performers of acts of 'absolute surrealism' are listed: .these are what his camera produces through the enlargements that he published as im"oluntary sculptures.: Gro'~ Press. controls it.: I larpt'r & Ro. 'La Beautl sera convuI5i\~.rude or exchange' (SurrralullI and Paint~. Baron.. I) The quotations in this and the nen paragraph are from Breton. trailS. photography reveals that world as written. or the image of a hatted figure by Man Ray published in J\rJillotaure5 ' For. pp. to photography. 1\1an Ray's photograph is one of sev eral made to accompany an essay by dada's founding spirit. then.' Tl.1'1\'1111"'. .::0. 7. Breton has thus provided us all the aesthetic theory we will e. between the part of real ity cut away and this part. and thereby makes visible. ti '\ ndre Breton. whic h the frame fra. p.1 (April I . 19:7). . \itr&c. 'The pholographic print . 16. th e camera frame.. they are presen lations of that very reality as configured or coded or \·v ritten. p. tran". Il . But in both these instances what the camera frames... P hotogr aphic cropping is always experi­ enced as a ruptUIe in the continuous fabric of reality.-6).\"a\'llle. j Breton. This question had begun. 'Beaw:-Aru.. or focal length.mes. 0/ Gramrru1rol~. its ceaseless automatic wTiLing. is the automatic writing of the world: the constant. The experience of nature as sign or representation comes naturally.

5-4 (1933). Speak ing or photogra phy Baudelaire said: 'This indus­ try. But whether produced by art or by luck) each picture was part of a massive assault on our t raditional habits of seeing. By the early eighties the dry plate. PhllosophlcalWnlmgr of Pevec.ew York: I 1111 and Wang.a photo titled " La Xebuleuse.'. from The Photog rapher's Eye John Szarkowski worked as a photographer before becoming the curator of photographs at the Museum of Modem Art.lichelet. By the latter decades of the nineteenth century the professionals an d t he serious amateurs were joined by an even larger host of casual snap-shooters. In 1853 the .' C. .It was thw a n automausrn of destruction. It represents a key statement of Szarkowski 's approach and clearly lays out the fi ve ele­ ments that he held to be central to photography conceived as an art. Tu:l. /lcluatwn poitlqUL ( 1955.s.'l Some of these pictures were the product of knowledge and skill and sensibility and in vention. T<. dated Dieudonne.. I)circe within the taxonomy or signs that he developed In 'Logic as Semiotic: The Theory or Sigm. 1981.co nverted silversmiths. Paintings were made . had replaced t he refractory an d messy wet plate process. Photography's posItion u 8n index was fi m established by C. misunderstanding. 16. 68. Since its earliest days. 19-. Stanley \I itchcll.primed in Aragon . \\'cighlm8n (l\ew York: Ilarper& 1\0 \\ . T hose who invented photography were scientists and painters. 9 (Summer 19. John Szarkowski. cil. and or why they look that way. trails.York Daily Tribune estimated th at three million daguerreotypes were bei ng produced that year. I treated a large numbe r of my ncgau\"e$ in this manner .}'2 19n)· In Walter Iknjamill. Screen 1J (Spnng 19(2): '2 4· John Heartfield. trans. P. 26g--. 9. but its professiona l practitioners were a \"ery different lot. The invention of photography provided a radically new picture-making process . an art. u a S)'5'tem of placing the glass plate of an e. no. The di ffeTence raised a creative issue of a new orde r: how could this mechani cal an d mindless process be made to produce pictures meaningful in human terms .constructed from a storehouse of tradi ­ ti onal schemes and skills and attitudes . 1979J. pp. T hese new ways might be found by men who could abandon th eir alle­ giance to tradi tional pictori al standards . tinkers.'I'TURY: A R EAD ER PART THREE: MODERNITY A.'" On an unpublished letter to \ \ 'e!I Ge\-. Among them they produced a fl ood of images. T here ha\re been many of t he latter sort. many were t he product of accident.pictures with clarity and coherence and a point of vie w? It was soon demonstrated that an answer would not be fOW1 d by those who loved too m uch the old forms. . black. '9iO).. a t rade. :-' 9.a process based not on synthesis but on selection. Ibid. Louis Aragon. It is concerned with photographic style and with photographic tra­ dition: wi th the sense of possibi.) became the first chapter or C1mourfou. p.) . 'A Short Ihstory or P hotography: trans. Stephen Ileath (. pp... also callMi souJJl~~. and empirical experiment... Peirce. New York. . Craig Owens. certainly t he new med ium could not satisfy old standards. Justw Buchler (:-lew Y ork: Dover. This text was originally written as a catalogue essay for the exhi bition The Photographer's Eye held in 1969 at the M useum of Modern Art. .lflnO/oure. !los. 21 :12 23 '24 25 'l6 '27 28 29 30 50' ..V ellJ. by invading the territo ries of art.. "rhe Parcrgon: trans. ex cept in one caM! where a woman in a bathing SUit was trarufonned IIItO 8 thunderstruck Goddess .3). who were disci plined and united by no academy or gui ld. i8--. or an entertainment.\lsteel \larien. J T he enor mous popularity of the new m edium produced proressionals by the thousands . p. which could be purchased rcady-to-use. \ '18hllL'lI/ku ( Le Paysan de Pans). )'Ian Ray.lities that a photographer today takes to h is work. druggists. L'AclI.' 32 ron the problems of Breton's Ig 20 iUi ART OF THE nVENTl lITH CE.'9)' us 4. ' 965).'0). Phoro"lOma~esof the \ 'azl Pen'od(~ew Y ork: Uni\-erse Book!. unpaginated. S.' See Roland Barthes. M useum of Modern Art. 19/i).1928 (Stuttgart.'O). for in large part the photographer was berert or the old artistic traditions. whi ch dernanded that the See Gamille BI)'ell and Raoul :'. A. Claude 1 . Boiffard's big toes accompanied the text by Georges Bataill~. The photographer must fi nd new ways to make his meaning clear. as the man on the street put it. Frederick Brown ( E. and who were often una\vare of each other's work. :-'c" Jcrsey: Prentice· llal!.but photographs. 2 1 March.'(lIU/ the Cooked. ed..or by the artistically ignorant. L 'Amourfou (Paris: Gallimard. The follOWing extracts are taken from John Szarkowski. Introduction This book is an investigation of what photographs look like. 1963)' ' l\lessage without a code' is Barthes's term in his essays "nle Photographic Message' and ' IUletoric of the Image. Through a seri es of high ly influ ential exhi bitions and accom panyi ng catalogues he elaborated a moderni st account of photography that drew heavily on the idea of vern acular fo rm . [ . 359-40. J. New York in 1962. 6 ( '929). no.Ja~. The Photographer's Eye. 1IllS1c. trans. OciOMr.9. nos.. Chac describes the procedure of bro. reprinted 1I1 .'D PHOTOGRAPHY '33 well. The RQU. pp.smiths and printers.i:'·I Strauss..' J \!inotoun. 'Joh n' I('artfield ella beaute re\'Olullonnaire' (1935).en from R.aoul t:bac.the result bt-ing for the most pan disap_ pointing." And in h is own ter ms of re rerence Baudelaire was ha Ir righ t. were taken..posed negau\'e over a heated pan of water ill order to melt the emulsion. such men had the advan­ tage of having nothing to unl earn.. T he difference was a baSIC one. 1957). Colloge~ ( Paris: I lermallll. Mall Ray's photo. pp. 13. Derrida analyres the frame as 'an outside which is called inside the inside to col1sut\l(e it as inside.: L G. 3-'" ( 195.. photography has been pr acticed by thousands who shared no common tradition or training. pp. 'Ine text ' La beaute sera colwulsl\'e' (pp.. and D. 1955). who had no old allegiances to break. [SE] . p.nglewood Clirrs. Image.nlii surrlolisu ~ff &IAlI~ [Brussels: Lebeer· llossmano. improvisati on. has beco me ares m ost m ortal e nemy. graphs or hats illustrated Tristan Tzara's 'D'UJl Cena in Automallsme du gout. a complete dissolution of the image towards an absolute formlessness. If photography was a new artistic problem. 'Le G ros Ort('il: Docunumts.. See Andre Breton. who considered th eir medium variously as a science. 1969 . 81. Exhibition R a~raphs 1921. a post that he held until his retirement in 1991. Brassais Sculpwres I Im:ollln(aves appeared 111 .' See Jacques Dcrrida.8 .

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