The following is written by International Dada Curator Timothy Shipe.
The latest major acquisition for the International Dada Archive is The Large Glass and Related Works (1967-1968), an impressive collaboration between artist Marcel Duchamp and the Egyptian-born Italian writer and gallery owner Arturo Schwarz. The magnificent set of two large portfolios contains a monograph by Schwarz on Duchamp’s unfinished masterpiece, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (known as the “Large Glass”), housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is accompanied by an extensive set of facsimiles of Duchamp’s preparatory notes for the “Large Glass,” one of several similar sets of notes the artist published during his lifetime (including the famous “Green Box,” the most precious treasure of the Dada Archive).
But what makes The Large Glass and Related Works most special is the two sets of nine original etchings by Duchamp designed especially for this edition. These are among the last art works by Duchamp, who died in 1968. The first set, titled simply “The Large Glass,” consists mainly of depictions of individual elements taken from that complex work, along with a diagram of what the Glass would have looked like had it been completed.
The second set of etchings, titled “The Lovers,” is a set of erotic drawings largely based on classic works of art. According to Schwarz, these were intended as a sort of sequel to the “Large Glass,” depicting the consummation of the frustrated love affair between the “bachelors” and the “bride.” One of these, based on Lucas Cranach’s famous depiction of Adam and Eve, is, in a sense, a self-portrait of Duchamp, since it replicates a well-known Man Ray photograph of a 1924 stage performance in which a nude Duchamp and Brogna Perlmutter imitate the scene in Cranach’s painting.
The Large Glass and Related Works was formerly part of the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry but was deaccessioned before that collection came to Iowa. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to purchase this important work for the Dada Archive, where it will complement the other major Duchamp items that are frequently used in classes in Art History and other fields.
The following blog is written by Rich Dana, Olson Graduate Assistant in Special Collections.
Dr. Marvin Sackner passed away on September 29th. A national leader in the field of pulmonology and an inventor of innovative medical devices, Marvin Sackner was also an internationally recognized authority in the field of word-art, known as concrete or visual poetry. Along with his late wife, Ruth, Dr. Sackner collected the world’s most extensive collection of word-based art, which arrived at the University of Iowa in 2019.
In an October 5th memorial, International Dada Curator Timothy Shipe wrote that “For those of us at Iowa, Dr. Sackner will be forever remembered for selecting the University Libraries as the permanent home of his world-renowned collection of concrete and visual poetry; but as his obituary shows, his memory will be treasured for his countless contributions in many areas—by his numerous patients, by members of the medical profession, by artists, art historians, and literary scholars around the world, and most of all by his beloved family.”
Timothy Shipe later shared with me some personal thoughts about his interactions with Marvin Sackner, recalling that his 2018 New York meetings with Dr. Sackner and Head of Special Collections Margaret Gamm were not just business negotiations. Rather, he remembers working with Marvin as “enjoyable days full of enlightening conversation.”
Dr. Sackner was scheduled to visit Iowa City in April to attend the opening of an exhibition of works from the Sackner Archive at the UI Main Library gallery. Unfortunately, Dr. Sackner’s visit did not come to pass. In March, the world was thrown into the chaos of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Iowa, like most campuses across the United States, quickly closed the campus and moved to virtual classes. The Sackner exhibit was put on hold, and Dr. Sackner’s visit was postponed.
Later in the spring, I had the good fortune to talk at length with Marvin Sackner in a series of phone calls in which I interviewed him for a pair of blog posts. Our discussions were far-ranging, covering everything from the origins of the Sackner Archive to current events, historical medical treatises to science fiction.
When he inquired about my own scholarly interests, I mentioned that I was working on a paper exploring the links between early science fiction fandom and the literary and artistic uses of the mimeograph by the avant-garde. He became quite excited, telling me that “Oh, yes, you are on to something there!” Quickly pivoting from fine art to pulp paperbacks, he went on to share with me his own early interest in science fiction. In hindsight, he thought that the first time he saw an example of concrete poetry was not in a rare book shop or gallery, but rather in the paperback edition of Alfred Bester’s novel The Stars My Destination. “You will find several copies in the collection,” he told me.
At age 88, his memory for detail was impressive and his enthusiasm infectious, even over the phone. His comment about Bester’s book was spot-on, providing me with one of the first critical lynchpins in my thesis. We continued to correspond through occasional emails, and I held out hope that I might one day get to meet him in person after the pandemic had passed.
In late August, the exhibition of highlights from the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry finally opened in the Main Library Gallery. Sadly, one month later, we received the news of Dr. Sackner’s passing. A portrait of Dr. Sackner was added to the exhibit, next to the portrait of his wife Ruth.
I regret that I won’t be able to talk to Dr. Sackner again, but I will always appreciate how generously he shared his time with me. I also regret that the UI students and faculty will never have a chance to meet him, to experience his infectious enthusiasm, and thank him in person for the gift he has given us. However, we will continue to celebrate his passion and gain inspiration from the fantastic artwork and legacy that he has left in our care.
Friday, February 5 marks the 100th anniversary of Dada, the avant-garde literary and artistic movement that started in the neutral city of Zurich in the midst of World War I. On February 5, 1916, a group of exiled artists and writers opened the Cabaret Voltaire, an eclectic performance space in the heart of the student quarter. That first night’s program included poetry readings in German and Romanian, cabaret songs, classical piano music, a balalaika orchestra, and an exhibit of abstract art. By April, the name Dada had been chosen for the movement that grew from the Cabaret’s activities. The Cabaret Voltaire lasted for 165 days, but Dada spread beyond its walls to other venues in Zurich, then to Berlin, Paris, Cologne, Amsterdam, and New York, among other places. The influence of Dada on modern art and culture is immense. Dada centennial celebrations have begun around the world. Our own International Dada Archive houses the world’s most comprehensive repository of Dada documentation. To avoid upstaging the celebrations in Zurich, Bucharest, and elsewhere in Europe, the Dada Archive and Special Collections will launch our own centennial events next year, beginning with a major exhibition in the Libraries’ new gallery in spring 2017.
By Tim Shipe, Curator, International Dada Archive, and Arts & Literature Liaison
We are pleased to announce the publication of issue no. 20 of our journal Dada/Surrealism, a special number entitled From Dada to Infra-noir: Dada, Surrealism, and Romania.”http://ir.uiowa.edu/dadasur/vol20/iss1/.
Co-edited by Monique Yaari of the Pennsylvania State University and Timothy Shipe of the University of Iowa, our thematic issue includes eighteen articles by scholars and critics from North America, Europe, and Israel, as well as a selection of primary documents newly translated into English and a substantial bibliography. From Dada to Infra-Noir is the first essay collection in English on the subject of Romanian Dada and surrealism in literature and the visual arts, both within Romania and in the (largely francophone) diaspora.
Dada/Surrealism is the peer-reviewed, free and open-access journal of the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, and is published by the International Dada Archive, Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.
Profuse thanks are due to Wendy Robertson for her expertise, patience, and hard work in bringing this project to fruition.
Three major new acquisitions from Dada’s transitional period of 1919-1920 document that movement’s spread beyond its World War I origins in neutral Switzerland to the key cultural centers of Europe during the early postwar era.
Francis Picabia was one of the chief agents for the propagation of the Dada movement, and his periodical 391 was a key vehicle for spreading Dada beyond its origins in Zurich. Picabia published the first four numbers in Barcelona, then took 391 with him to New York, Zurich, and finally Paris. Special Collections owns ten of the nineteen issues, representing all four cities. Our latest acquisition is Number 9 (November 1919), the first issue to be published in Paris (following the single Zurich number), just as Tristan Tzara, Dada’s self-proclaimed leader, was preparing to move to the French capital. With a cover featuring one of Picabia’s famous machine drawings, and with texts by Tzara, Picabia, and future Parisian Dadaist Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, this issue anticipates the founding of the Paris Dada movement.
Published shortly after the author had established himself in Paris, Cinéma calendrier du coeur abstrait; Maisons (1920) completes our collection of Tzara’s three books of poetry in the series “Collection Dada.” The first two were published in Zurich, and this third collection marks the full fruition of Dada in Paris. Illustrated with nineteen original woodcuts by Jean Arp, this masterpiece of Dada book art is signed by the author and the artist.
Die Schammade (also known as Dadameter) is the seminal publication of the short-lived branch of the Dada movement in Cologne, Germany. Edited in early 1920 by Max Ernst and Johannes Baargeld and printed on multicolored paper with magnificent woodcuts and drawings by Ernst, Arp, and others, Die Schammade typifies the international nature Dada, and includes texts in German and French, including some of the most important Dada writings of Arp, Ernst, and Baargeld.
In addition, we recently acquired the one issue of the Dada publication 291 not previously in the collection, making a complete set.