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Report from Sirius B

Jeremy Harding: ‘Phantom Africa’, 22 March 2018

Phantom Africa 
by Michel Leiris, translated by Brent Hayes Edwards.
Seagull, 711 pp., £42, January 2017, 978 0 85742 377 1
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... In​ L’Age d’homme, his early excursion into autobiography, Michel Leiris recalls his mother warning him to beware of ‘bad people’ in the Bois de Boulogne. He imagined the predators in the woods to be ‘satyrs’, and later, cannibals: he had been struck by an exotic colour illustration in Le Pêle-Mêle, a humorous weekly, of ‘savages’ eating an explorer ...

At Turner Contemporary

Eleanor Birne: ‘Curiosity’, 18 July 2013

... quartz and jasper put together by Roger Caillois, a collaborator of Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris, to a vitrine displaying tiny artworks made from split lengths of human hair, collected by the artist Susan Hiller, to Richard Wentworth’s snapshots of traffic cones or abandoned gloves or old boots. Some of the objects are related in ...

Diary

Iain Bamforth: Bodyworlds, 19 October 2000

... danger of exposure to the ‘bull’s keen horn’ is a mortal risk, as that restrained masochist Michel Leiris notes in L’Age d’homme, thereby saving the torero from an art of vain affectation. Again the argument turns on authenticity and performance: the same strategists of liberation who had applauded the Anatomical Angel made tauromachy a vitally ...

Dirty’s Story

Mark Polizzotti, 28 November 1996

The Collected Writings 
by Laure, translated by Jeanine Herman.
City Lights, 314 pp., $13.95, August 1995, 0 87286 293 3
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... for others can have meaning’. The task of bringing these texts to light fell to Bataille and Michel Leiris, another intimate of Laure’s. That was in 1938, when family censorship kept most of them from being published. The first comprehensive volume of Laure’s work appeared, thanks to the efforts of her nephew, Jérôme Peignot, in 1977. Born ...

At Tate Modern

Jeremy Harding: Giacometti, 16 August 2017

... commentary. There are many entries here for the writers who took up with him – Georges Bataille, Michel Leiris, Sartre and Beauvoir, Jean Genet and others – though none under B for Beckett, and none for John Berger, who was cool at first, then much warmer, coming under fire from David Sylvester – another S – for disparaging Giacometti’s work in ...

Earthworm on Zither

Paul Grimstad: Raymond Roussel, 26 April 2012

Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey, 280 pp., £10.99, June 2011, 978 1 56478 624 1
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New Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Ford.
Princeton, 264 pp., £16.95, April 2011, 978 0 691 14459 7
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... world he carried inside him. Most of the knowledge we have of Roussel’s temperament comes from Michel Leiris (his father, Eugène, was the Roussel family accountant), who wrote: ‘In all the countries he visited, he saw only what he had put there in advance.’ More recently Nicholas Jenkins put it neatly: Roussel, he wrote, appears ‘to have had no ...

In the Butcher’s Shop

Peter de Bolla: Deleuze on Bacon, 23 September 2004

Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation 
by Gilles Deleuze, translated by Daniel Smith.
Continuum, 209 pp., £9.99, March 2004, 0 8264 7318 0
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... oeuvre: bewilderment. This response would certainly have surprised Deleuze’s friend Michel Foucault, who wrote in 1970: ‘Perhaps one day, this century will be known as Deleuzian.’ Of all the thinkers who emerged in postwar France and are now loosely – and unhelpfully – coralled into the collective ...

Francis and Vanessa

Peter Campbell, 15 March 1984

Francis Bacon 
by Michel Leiris, translated by John Weightman.
Phaidon, 271 pp., £50, September 1983, 0 7148 2218 3
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Vanessa Bell 
by Frances Spalding.
Weidenfeld, 399 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 0 297 78162 6
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The Omega Workshops 
by Judith Collins.
Secker, 310 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 436 10562 4
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The Omega Workshops 1913-1919: Decorative Arts of Bloomsbury 
Crafts Council, 96 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 903798 72 7Show More
The Omega Workshops: Alliance and Enmity in English Art 1911-1920 
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, 80 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 947564 00 4Show More
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... defences unprobed. In the essay which prefaces Phaidon’s handsome volume of colour plates, Michel Leiris writes: ‘As an authentic expression of Western man in our time Francis Bacon’s work conveys, in the admirably Nietzschean formula he himself has coined to explain the sort of man and artist he is, an “exhilarated despair”, and so ...

Get out

Julian Bell: Francis Bacon, 19 October 2000

Looking back at Francis Bacon 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 272 pp., £29.95, June 2000, 0 500 01994 0
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... Abidingly Eurocentric, he was vastly gratified to have captured the imagination of literary Paris: Michel Leiris, Philippe Sollers, Gilles Deleuze and Milan Kundera all produced high-flown testimonies to the stature of his work as a comment on the human predicament. Nearer home, the existential fervour surrounding the paintings was kept up by Lawrence ...

High-Step with a Bull

T.J. Clark: Picasso, The Vollard Suite, 2 August 2012

Picasso Prints: The Vollard Suite 
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... garland, and the sculptor is dreaming of his days as a wild thing. (Picasso was 51 in 1933. Michel Leiris in his diary records a group of friends at the time gossiping about the decline in their hero’s sexual powers. The gossip sounds dreary, but Picasso was asking for it.) Plate 56 of the Vollard Suite. Everything depends, in this etching ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real, 18 December 2014

... means structurally – why it can be so necessary. In ‘Literature Considered as a Bullfight’, Michel Leiris compares the writer to a toreador. Imagine a bullfight without the bull: it would be a set of aesthetic manoeuvres, pretty twirls and pirouettes and so on – but there’d be no danger. The bull, crucially, brings danger to the party, and for ...

Don’t think about it

Jenny Diski: The Trouble with Sonia Orwell, 25 April 2002

The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £9.99, May 2002, 0 241 14165 6
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... old warhorse you could still see traces of the impetuous young thoroughbred, who had enchanted Leiris and others a quarter of a century before.’ Well, yes. Most of us were easier to take when young, especially if we were beautiful, energetic, bright and eagerly ambitious, as Sonia Orwell clearly was. We should, however, be grateful for the ...

Not His Type

Frank Kermode, 5 September 1996

About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 448 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 7011 6268 6
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... seniors seems to have come naturally to him, and soon we find him in Paris on familiar terms with Michel and Louise Leiris, Jacques Lacan, Sylvia Bataille, André Masson and Alberto Giacometti, the last of whom was to be enduringly important to his career. For almost half a century he has practised not art, a strenuous and ...

Mon Pays

Michael Rogin: Josephine Baker, 22 February 2001

The Josephine Baker Story 
by Ean Wood.
Sanctuary, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 86074 286 6
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Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s 
by Petrine Archer-Straw.
Thames and Hudson, 200 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 0 500 28135 1
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... or playing with them? Pan-Africanists, like the negrophiliac Surrealists and sousréalistes (Michel Leiris, Georges Bataille and the Documents group), deployed Africa against the imperial metropole, but Baker was being put to the opposite use. She was picked as queen of the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, whose display of native peoples made Paris the ...

White Hat/Black Hat

Frances Richard: 20th-Century Art, 6 April 2006

Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism 
by Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh.
Thames and Hudson, 704 pp., £45, March 2005, 0 500 23818 9
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... rebelled against their controlling impresario, André Breton: Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, Michel Leiris. It has pondered the theory of the sign, foregrounded photography and helped to install Peter Bürger’s 1974 essay ‘Theory of the Avant-Garde’ (translated into English in 1984) as a founding text of alternative cultural ...

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