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1962–65) all feature snippets of text alongside late nineteenth-century family portrait photographs framed in albums, with the last of these using negative as well as positive prints, adding to the play of presence and absence where Luca’s calligraphy with its complex word-play is often written in white on black paper. “A la santé du mort…” of 1962 is based on a much more ornate album, virtually an art object in its own right, with a heavy cover decorated with gold leaf, gilt edges, and oval vignette frames surrounded by brightly colored printed nature scenes alternating with full-page photographs (for example a fine 1920s or 1930s portrait of a couple dressed as commedia dell'arte characters holding large balloons). Once again the relation between text, image, and object is oblique and ambiguous, suggesting complex or hidden interactions through the poem’s word play rather than allowing the relationship to settle into simple writing and illustration oppositions. A fifth album in the MNAM collection, Sans titre (Femmes, chiens...), once again of 1962–65, this time has no text; larger found photographs and photocopies of a woman’s face and body are cut into segments and re-presented in the cut-out frames of each page so as to create exploded, de-realized views of the body in ways that link back to some of Luca’s very earliest experiments with the cubomania (a few of which had used photographs of nudes).63 Série Brésil (1960–70), the original components of which are also held in the MNAM archives, this time presents not an album but a portfolio of 16 fine, large format turn of the century photographs of Brazil: Corcovado, street scenes, and botanical gardens for example, but also documentary images of agricultural production and, most strikingly, portraits of a “negress from Bahia” and of indigenous natives.64 Each reproduction features a printed caption (the series is presumably a tourist souvenir, with strong colonial overtones). Over every image and its legend, Luca has pasted cut-outs from an old Larousse dic63

All five of these albums are documented at the Musée National d’Art Moderne’s archive site, www.mnam-doc.cnac-gp.fr, though only a page or two of each is reproduced. 64 The MNAM site reproduces these originals, but the portfolio has also been re-edited in facsimile, with a presentation text, by cipM, Marseille, 2008.

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Profile for Contra Mundum Press

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

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