Seducer on the City Trail

By Bishop, Claire | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Seducer on the City Trail


Bishop, Claire, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: CLAIRE BISHOP

BRASSAI/THE SOUL OF PARISH Hayward Gallery

IT REMAINS one of the many blights of Century City at Tate Modern that the curators chose to represent Paris by the period 1905-1915 - the city of Cubist collage and Fauvists daubs not the Paris of the 1930s. As Brassa[pound] shows us, the Surrealist city was seduction itself: at times an eerily deserted film set (the Jardin de Luxembourg at night, the canals in fog), at other times a decadently squalid soap opera (dark-lipped prostitutes with shiny black shoes, lovers squabbling in a bar, and people dropping asleep - or dead - on the street).

These are iconic photographs: voyeuristic and very sexy - exactly what today's generation of artists has been taught to reject. But the downfall of iconicity is that it also blueprints kitsch: Brassa[pound]Os photographs of Picasso's studio and his penchant for white cats on shadowy steps today look ripe for reprinting on a greetings card. Fortunately this romantic tendency found redirection in his collaborations with artists and writers of the Surrealist circle.

Making illustrations for Salvador Dali's articles in the periodical Minotaure, or for Andr" Breton's novel L'Amour Fou, clearly brought out the best in Brassa[pound]Os vision. …

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