Cover image for Displaying the marvelous : Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, and surrealist exhibition installations
Displaying the marvelous : Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, and surrealist exhibition installations
Kachur, Lewis.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xx, 259 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6494.S8 K33 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Surrealism in its late phase often abandoned neutral exhibition spaces in favour of environments that embodied subjective ideologies. These exhibitions offered startled viewers an early version of installation art before the form existed as such. In Displaying the Marvelous, Lewis Kachur explores this development by analyzing three elaborate Surrealist installations created between 1938 and 1942. The first two, the Exposition Internationale du Surr alisme (1938) and the Dream of Venus at the New York World's Fair (1939), dealt with the fetishization of the female body. The third, First Papers of Surrealism (1942), focused not on the figure but on the entire expanse of the exhibition space, thus contributing to the development of nonfigurative art in New York. Kachur presents a full visual and verbal reconstruction of each of the exhibitions, evoking the sequence that the contemporary viewer would have encountered.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Kachur (Kean Univ., New Jersey) provides an exciting account of three Surrealist exhibitions: the Exposition Internationale du Surrealisme (1938), the "Dream of Venus" pavilion (1939 New York World's Fair), and First Papers of Surrealism (1942). The sites of these exhibitions were varied: an Old Master gallery, an amusement zone, and a private mansion. Focused around Andre Breton's prescription for the "marvelous," the chapters link the complex continuing interaction and commonalities in vision between artists termed Dadaists (epitomized by Marcel Duchamp) and Surrealists (Salvador Dali). Duchamp and Dali had dramatically different strategies regarding their works' relationship to the spectator--the former specializing in frustration and what he termed an "anti-aesthetic"; the latter determined to overwhelm the senses through unexpected juxtapositions. The unfolding story demonstrates the avant-garde nature of installations and environments. Rare images from diverse sources (including Man Ray, press agency, fashion photographers, amateurs) provide visuals of installation spaces and artists/viewers within them. The book's design is playful and clever, reinforcing the content and Kachur's engaging writing style, which reconstructs events to suggest how it was to witness events firsthand. Recommended for all library collections. General readers; undergraduates through professionals. E. K. Menon Purdue University