Sims Reed Rare Books×

Vingt-Cinq Poèmes - Dix Gravures sur Bois

Arp, Hans. Tzara, Tristan

Zurich. Collection Dada / J. Heuberger. 1918, le vingt juin
A beautiful, unsophisticated copy of the mythical édition de tête of Tzara's dada collection illustrated by Hans Arp and with his exceptional cover.

From the édition de tête of 10 numbered copies on Hollande, signed and numbered by Tzara in black ink on the second leaf recto 'Exemplaire No. 9 / Tristan TZARA' and with an additional presentation from Tzara: 'à Mlle Marcelle Favrel.'; the remaining copies of the book were issued on Alfa paper in an edition of unknown size and - apart from those examples numbered 11 - 20 - featured a different cover.

The work is Tzara's second published collection of poetic experiments, after 'La Première Aventure Céléste de Mr Antipyrine' of 1916,and includes 25 poems in French, all printed - typically - in lowercase. Vingt-cinq Poèmes, the first of many collaborations between Tzara and Arp, is unquestionably one of the book highlights of the heroic period of dada, as founded in Zurich at the Cabaret Voltaire, in 1916, and the beautiful and accomplished mise en page belies the dada reputation for a rough and ready anti-aesthetic. The combination of Tzara's verse and Arp's monochrome woodcut abstractions - he called the biomorphic experiments 'fluid ovals' - interspersed with the text and printed on full sheets ensure a fascinating and evocative book. Arp's cover, the combination of onlaid sections of goldleaf and the inked, stylised 'Tzara' with another abstraction also in black ink - it is probable, due to the exactitude of each cover of the édition de tête, that Arp used a stencil - elevates the work to a profound level of beauty.

The Hollande paper used for the édition de tête is very much thicker than the Alfa used for ordinary copies and these copies are bulkier; traces of ink to the rear cover, as in other examples, suggest that each copy was placed on a pile after the cover was executed, with consequent offsetting.

The édition de tête of 'Vingt-Cinq Poèmes' is of mythical rarity, and it is worth noting that Tzara himself did not have a copy (see Bolliger III). We can trace only the copy sold at Christie's in 2006 (neither signed nor numbered) as well as two numbered copies on Alfa, that sold by Sotheby's (No. 13) in 2006 and Paul Eluard's copy (No. 18), with an oxidised cover and rebound by Louis Christy (see Bolliger IV, 150). The catalogue 'Bibliothèque d'un Grand Amateur Européen' locates two further copies from the édition de tête: the copies of Peyré (No. 3) and Meyer (No. 6) although the same catalogue ascribes Eluard's copy to the édition de tête (as No. 8) although Bolliger disagrees (see IV, 150, as above).

The recipient of the book, Marcelle Favrel (1901 - 1960), née Marcelle Chantal Pannier, was an actress and singer and together with her husband, David Jefferson-Cohn, a part of the Parisian demi-monde of the 1920s. She made her acting debut in Marcel l'Herbier's 'Le Carnaval des Vérités' in 1921, sang at the Opéra Comique and the Opéra Garnier, before turning definitively to acting; Favrel appeared in films throughout the late 1920s - she became famous when she replaced Pola Negri in 'L'Affaire du Collier de la Reine' in 1929 - and 1930s before she left France for Switzerland at the outbreak of the Second World War.

'An important document of the Dada movement by two of its founders. The non-objective woodcuts are similar to Arp's wooden reliefs and collages at this time and their free form is expressive of the automatic quality valued by the Dadaists.' (The Artist and the Book).

'C'est le deuxième livre de Tzara, composé de poèmes écrits entre 1915 et 1918, dont 'Printemps' dedié à Hans Arp ... L'illustrateur, Hans Arp, alors âgé de vingt ans, en était déjà à son troisième livre dada ... Ses bois rappellent en partie ceux de Kandinsky dans 'Klänge', mais dans un style biomorphe très caractéristique qui donne une force étonnante à ce livre phare, de toute rareté ... '. (Bibliothèque d'un Grande Amateur Européen, 2006).

[see lot 123 in 'Bibliothèque d'un Grande Amateur Européen', 2006, for an unsigned example; The Artist and the Book 2; Logan Collection 23; Castleman 130].
[26 unnumbered leaves]. 8vo. (198 x 146 mm). Leaf with title and woodcut vignette by Arp recto, leaf with copy number, Tzara's signature and presentation recto and Tzara's verse verso, 15 leaves with Tzara's 25 verses recto and verso and eight original woodcuts by Arp, each recto only, final leaf with justification / colophon and woodcut vignette by Arp verso; printed text in French lowercase throughout. Original card boards, front cover with onlaid sections of gold leaf and a stylised 'Tzara' and vignette by Arp in black ink, later black calf-backed wooden board chemise with argent title to spine and matching slipcase by Devauchelle.

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