The Société Anonyme

Modernism for America

Edited by Jennifer R. Gross; With contributions by Ruth L. Bohan, Susan Greenberg, David Joselit, Elise K. Kenney, Dickran Tashjian, and Kristina Wilson

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A visual feast of modern European and American art from one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary collections

This beautifully illustrated book highlights the unique history of The Société Anonyme, Inc., an organization founded in 1920 by the artists Katherine S. Dreier (1877–1952), Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), and Man Ray (1890–1976). As America’s first “experimental museum” for modern art, the Société Anonyme provided a means for artists, rather than historians, to chronicle the rise of modernism. Led by Dreier and Duchamp, the group eventually assembled a collection of more than one thousand artworks, which it presented to the public in a variety of innovative programs, publications, and exhibitions.

The incredible collection of the Société Anonyme now belongs to the Yale University Art Gallery, a gift from the Société and Dreier. It features the work of more than one hundred artists, many of whom are among the century’s most renowned—including Jean Arp, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, El Lissitzky, Piet Mondrian, Man Ray, Kurt Schwitters, and Joseph Stella—as well as works by lesser-known artists whose contributions to modernism are substantial.

With new archival information, including personal correspondence between Dreier and the artists whose work she assembled, a host of previously unpublished images, essays by leading scholars, and an interview with artists Robert and Sylvia Mangold about the contemporary significance of this collection, this fascinating book is essential to our understanding of the reception and interpretation of modernism in America.

Jennifer R. Gross is Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Susan Greenberg is Horace W. Goldsmith Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Elise K. Kenney is historian and archivist, all at the Yale University Art Gallery. Ruth L. Bohan is associate professor of art history at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. David Joselit is professor of art history at Yale University. Dickran Tashjian is professor emeritus of art history at the University of California, Irvine. Kristina Wilson is assistant professor of art history at Clark University.

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

Dallas Museum of Art (June 10, 2007 – September 16, 2007)


Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville (October 26, 2007 – February 3, 2008)


Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (April 23 – August 13, 2006)


The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (October 14, 2006–January 21, 2007)


Yale University Art Gallery (2011) 

"This is the first use and exploration of SA (Société Anonyme) archival materials. Its pages contain artist biographies, an interview with contemporary artists Sylvia and Robert Mangold, and approximately 300 full-color reproductions and b/w images that include historic photographs. The prose is clear, accessible, and engaging . . . and will appeal to specialists as well as the public. Recommended.—Library Journal

"Yale's efforts to keep the historical importance of the SociétéAnonyme alive are well-received and appreciated in this catalog."—Jayanthi Daniel, New York Sun
 

"This massive and important body of work brings together Russian and Soviet avant-garde artists with surrealists, early 20th-century American modernists, and other progressives. The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America is primarily a critical guide to the collection and is scholarly without being overbearing. There are numerous illustrations, brief biographies of more than 100 artists, and a suggested reading list. Anyone interested in the rise of modernism in America should consider this required reading."—R.K. Dickson, Bloomsbury Review (Holiday gifts for booklovers)

"Presents a rich and varied account of an important cultural institution whose historical and conceptual dimensions have, until now, been too little known. In bringing these materials so vividly to light, the catalogue lifts the shadows surrounding Duchamp and Dreier's 'Anonymous Corporation,' as it reveals the Société Anonyme to be a Société Extraordinaire."—Marcia Brennan, CAA Reviews

“This catalogue is a must-read document of a thrilling time when a community of artists was making its own rules, and waiting for history to catch up.”—Nicholas Weist, Whitewall
ISBN: 9780300109214
Publication Date: June 15, 2006
Co-publisher: Published in association with the Yale University Art Gallery
252 pages, 9 1/2 x 12
62 b/w + 302 color illus.
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