Surrealism: Inside the Magnetic Fields
Penelope Rosemont, City Lights
In part, this is a memoir of the now 77-year-old American writer and artist Penelope Rosemont’s encounters with the giants of surrealism and how those encounters shaped her. But it’s also a book of wonderful mini-essays describing and paying tribute to a whole host of largely forgotten, fascinating figures — underground artists, publishers and public dissenters who set the stage for waves of cultural production dedicated, to paraphrase Andre Breton, to hunting down the mad beast of conventionality. In these pages you will meet, for instance, Canadian trailblazing surrealist painter Mimi Parent, a flamboyant expatriate relocated to Paris where she spent her days scorning art world greed and making works like this one, described by Rosemont: “Another painting, aglow with four different kinds of radiance, portrays a gray sky filled by a gray eagle whose talons reach through the very walls of the Bastille to clutch two frilly female dolls.” Vivid arts writing that makes you yearn to see the work, combined with an insistence that Surrealism and its many spinoffs may still yet lead to the “transformation of everyday life.” In this book, Rosemont reaffirms the revolutionary potential and enduring practice of the non-hierarchical arts.