Crevel (René)

Lot 105
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Estimation :
60000 - 80000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 75 825EUR
Crevel (René)
Les Pieds dans le plat. Éditions du Sagittaire, Paris, 1933. An "etching" (actually a burin etching, justified and signed) by Alberto Giacometti (Lust 396, Kornfeld 6) in the top 15 copies on japon. First edition (19 x 12.2 cm). Binding: Black morocco with geometric decoration and white and gray box inlay, smooth spine, gilt head and edges, slipcase (Pierre-Lucien Martin, 1955). One of the great rarities of Surrealism: André Breton's head copy on Japon (no. 2), complete with Giacometti's extraordinary first etching, with a moving letter from René Crevel. "Because I cannot even vaguely imagine what my life would have been like if I had not met you, because this life would neither be justified nor continue if it did not collaborate with you, here [LES PIEDS DANS LE PLAT] I can only awkwardly say all that is dear to my heart and mind, and since what is dearest to my heart and mind is our common action, it is by simply telling you all my friendship that I put [LES PIEDS DANS LE PLAT] René Crevel". Alberto Giacometti's etching, his very first etching, is signed and justified 6/15 in graphite. As in all original copies, the book and etching numbers differ. At the end of the volume, André Breton has inserted Marcel Jouhandeau's text (July 1935) and his own response (August 1935) to the detestable controversy in the NRF following René Crevel's suicide. The publication dates have been marked in green ink by Breton. Jouhandeau held Breton indirectly responsible for Crevel's suicide, through his intransigence towards the organizers of the International Writers' Congress, from which Breton had been expelled after slapping Ilya Ehrenbourg in the street: "Nothing resembles a crime more than a suicide", he wrote, recalling Crevel's own words: "When I no longer believe in anything, not in myself, not in anyone, I will still believe in Breton". Breton replied - very coldly - in his article Sur la mort de René Crevel. While Crevel was a great admirer of Breton's, Breton saw Crevel as the very embodiment of Surrealism. Answering the question "What is surrealism?" in the Belgian magazine Documents 34, Breton declared: "It's the vessel which, in the middle of a storm, René Crevel mastered by closing his eyes". In the thirties, Crevel distanced himself from the Surrealist group, where his rebellious spirit was probably beginning to feel cramped, to devote himself to revolutionary political action, where alliance with the Communists became a priority obligation. Thus, Les Pieds dans le plat, the last book Crevel published during his lifetime, begins as a kitschy buffoonery, but quickly becomes an anti-capitalist and anti-clerical pamphlet. But the book also follows the plot of the author's life, from his bullied childhood to a life considered largely broken, while remaining perfectly surrealist when it comes to writing. Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) and Crevel met in St. Moritz during the writer's stay in Davos in 1931, where he had him read his then unfinished novel. Seduced, the painter offered to illustrate the first copies with a frontispiece engraving (the original sketches are at the Gottfried Keller Foundation, the Kunsthaus Basel and the Giacometti Foundation). This one is particularly fascinating, showing a man-skeleton in a cage, unbalanced on an unstable platform, observed from the outside by a seahorse. This surreal role reversal is reinforced by the presence of air bubbles escaping from the seahorse's mouth, as if it were breathing. Seahorse being the name Crevel used to describe his illness (pulmonary tuberculosis), the caged figure underwater, unable to escape his own emaciated ribcage, thus seems to be struggling hopelessly against the impossibility of breathing, unlike the seahorse, which observes him serenely. Crevel himself had drawn grotesque caricatures and sketches for his book (reproduced in Roditi), including a seahorse with a monstrous jaw and a tail ending in a question mark. The frontispiece, while not referring to any scene from the novel, is a premonitory illustration of Crevel's own situation. The print run indicates 15 first copies on japon of this jewel of surrealism, but fewer than ten are known, and it is not known whether all fifteen were assembled.
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