The Art & Architecture Library recently purchased the three Parisian journal titles featured in this exhibition—Le Coq (subsequently titled Le Coq Parisien) (1920), Les Réverbères (1938-39), and Néon (1948-49)—in honor of Alex Ross on his retirement after 32 years of service as Library Head. The richness of the Library’s collection is due primarily to Alex’s superb skills as a bibliographer and his extensive knowledge of art history.
The journals’ editors and contributors included the Dadaist and Surrealist luminaries Tristan Tzara, Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, and André Breton. This exhibition’s juxtaposition of these rare ephemera reveals the idiosyncratic atmosphere of Parisian avant-garde design and publication over three decades, illuminates the often conflictual manifestations of these politically activist movements, and foregrounds the commitment of the journals’ producers to a revision of art’s form, purpose, and value.
Curated and designed by Anna Fishaut
Le Coq (nos. 1 and 2)
Le Coq Parisien (nos. 3 and 4)
Paris: Nos. 1-4, May 1920–November 1920.
Large single-sheet, single-sided format, folded for distribution.
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Jean Cocteau is attributed as founder and guiding light, with contributions by an impressive array of the Parisian musical, artistic, and literary avant-garde of the early 1920s, including Tristan Tzara (who had moved to Paris from Zurich), Erik Satie, Blaise Cendrars, and Max Jacob. The woodcut illustrations and multi-directional typographic arrangements are typical of Dada-influenced style. Cocteau’s 1918 manifesto “Le Coq et l'Arlequin,” which called for a reorientation of musical composition away from the past and toward Paris’s urban present of cabarets and theaters, is a likely point of reference for the journal’s title and approach.
Paris: Nos. 1-5, April 1938–July 1939
Each eight-page issue accompanied by an illustrated and signed hors-texte plate, printed on newsprint and glassine
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Contributing poets and critics include Nöel Arnaud, Camille Bryen, Georges Herment, and Jacques Bureau; contributing artists include Michael Tapié, Roger Sby, Pierre Minne, Aline Gagnaire, and Ulrich Senne. Primarily a literary journal, visually quite restrained, the publication was overseen by Jean Marembert, Minne, and Tapié, the last of whom became an influential art critic in the post-War years, closely identified with Art Informel, Art Autre, and Art Brut. The text, explicitly Dadaist in nature, is often critical of Surrealism, most notably in Bureau’s open letter to André Breton on the front page of issue number one. The library’s purchase also includes programs, flyers, and an exhibition catalog related to art and theater events—a major element of the group’s creative output—sponsored by the Club des Réverbères.
Paris: Nos. 1-5, January 1948–May 1949
Large four-page tabloid format
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Graphically and textually eclectic, each issue draws from a diverse group of contributors, all active participants in the post-War Parisian Surrealist circle. Editors, who varied by issue, include André Breton, Jindrich Heisler, and Benjamin Péret. The journal was conceived as a review, meant to feature poetry, music, criticism, and graphic design in equal measure. Its bold visual blending of large-scale images with typed and handwritten texts situates Néon as one of the more eccentric of the Surrealist publications. The title, an acronym, stands for two reversible phrases: “N’être rien, Etre tout, Ouvrir l’être, Néant, Oublie, Etre” and “Naviguer, Éveiller, Occulter, Nacce, Oiseau, Étui.”
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