Schwarz, Arturo (Umberto Samuele) 1924-
SCHWARZ, Arturo (Umberto Samuele) 1924-
PERSONAL: Born February 3, 1924, in Alexandria, Egypt; immigrated to Italy, 1949; son of Richard and Rita (Vitta) Schwarz; married Vera Zavatarelli, July 21, 1951 (died, May, 1984); married Rita Magnanini, February 1, 1986 (divorced, April 10, 2000); children: (first marriage) Silvia. Ethnicity: "Jew." Education: American University (Cairo, Egypt), diploma, 1942; Farouk I University, medical study, 1943-44. Politics: "Anarchist and Zionist." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Alchemy, Kabbalah.
ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—Via M. Giuriati 17, 20129 Milan, Italy; fax: 0039-027-45245.
CAREER: Culture (bookshop), Alexandria, Egypt, owner and manager, 1946-48; Gallery Schwarz (publishing house, bookshop, and gallery), Milan, Italy, owner and manager, 1952-75; essayist, poet, art historian, curator, and organizer of exhibitions, 1960—; also lecturer. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, founding member; member of board of governors at Tel Aviv University, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
MEMBER: PEN, India International Center, Italian Association for the Study of Sanscrit, New York Academy of Sciences.
AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary fellow of Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art; honorary D.Phil., Tel Aviv University, 1998; Diploma of First Class with gold medal, Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs, for outstanding merits in the fields of culture and the arts.
Marcel Duchamp: Sixty-six Creative Years; From theFirst Painting to the Last Drawing, Gallery Schwarz (Milan, Italy), 1972.
New York Dada: Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, Prestel Verlag (Munich, Germany), 1973.
Almanacco dada: Antologia letteraria-artistica, cronologia e repertorio delle riviste, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1976.
Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, Rizzoli International (New York, NY), 1977.
André Breton, Trotsky, et l'anarchie, Union Generale d'Editions (Paris, France), 1977.
L'immaginazione alchemica, La Salamandra (Milan, Italy), 1980.
L'arte dell'amore in India e in Nepal: La dimensione alchemica del Mito di śiva, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1980.
Anarchia e creatività, La Salamandra (Milan, Italy), 1981.
Il culto della donna nella tradizione Indiana, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1983.
Introduzione all'alchimia Indiana, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1984.
Arte e alchimia, Electa Editrice (Milan, Italy), 1986.
La luce dell'amore, Tema Celeste (Milan, Italy), 1994.
L'avventura surrealista: Amore e rivoluzione, anche, Erre Emme (Rome, Italy), 1997.
Cabbalà e alchimia: Saggio sugli archetipi comuni, Giuntina (Florence, Italy), 1999, translation published as Kabbalah and Alchemy: An Essay on Common Archetypes, J. Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 2000.
Dreaming with Open Eyes: The Vera, Silvia, and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art, Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), 2000.
Love at First Sight: The Vera, Silvia, and ArturoSchwarz Collection of Israeli Art, Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), 2001.
Enzo Cucchi: Un opera senza fine in divenire, Charta (Milan, Italy), 2001.
Konrad Klaphech ovvero la dimensione sapienziale della pricisione, Gabrius (Milan, Italy), 2002.
Mordecai Ardon: The Colors of Time, Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), 2003.
Editor and co-translator of Notes and Projects for the Large Glass, by Marcel Duchamp. Contributor to books, including Max Ernst e i suoi amici surrealisti, Mazzotta (Milan, Italy), 2002. Also a prolific poet, published in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, and Japan, sometimes under the pseudonym Tristan Sauvage. Contributor of essays and poetry to art, literary, and scientific publications.
SIDELIGHTS: In the art world, Arturo Schwarz is well known as an art historian, essayist, poet, lecturer, curator, exhibition organizer, and champion of surrealist art. In the English-speaking art world, he is best known for books on two of surrealism's most famous artists: Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray.
Of his work on Duchamp, Library Journal contributor Ronald Ghiz wrote that Schwarz's The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp "is essential to the understanding of this controversial twentieth-century artist," and that this "labor of love . . . will be the definitive study of Marcel Duchamp for many years to come." The book contains over 750 illustrations, including seventy-five color plates. A companion book, a reprint of Duchamp's Notes and Projects for the Large Glass, which Schwarz edited and cotranslated, is aimed at true devotees of Duchamp and surrealist art. It deals exclusively with one major work, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, also known as The Large Glass, and includes all of Duchamp's notes on its composition, allowing the reader to follow its artistic evolution from start to finish. Of the third edition of Schwarz's The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, art critic and leading art historian Elena Pontiggia wrote for Domus, the bilingual art and architecture monthly: "Two monumental volumes with a thousand pages, a thousand illustrations in black and white and over two hundred in color . . . besides the accuracy a vein of vitality and anti-pedantic spirit (in the best sense of the word) runs throughout the publication. . . . This light side does not prevent the work from being a crucial tool in comprehending Duchamp, thanks to its breadth, completeness, and authoritative date."
Schwarz's book on the American surrealist Man Ray, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, met with a similar reception. The author's friendship with Man Ray over the last decade of the artist's life is reflected in parts of the book and gives it a rare quality that critics appreciated. As a Booklist contributor wrote, "Schwarz's intimacy with the late artist lends an authenticity and special insight into the career of the founder of the Dada movement." Schwarz's dedication to surrealist art, and to two of its foremost masters, have made his works essential for libraries and collectors that claim a serious interest in modern art.
Schwarz once told CA: "In my early teens, I discovered five books which would be of determinative significance for my evolution: Spinoza's Ethics, Freud's Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Marx's Communist Manifesto, Breton's Surrealist Manifestoes, and his collection of poems Le Revolver a cheveux blancs. In 1944, after having been expelled from the faculty of medicine at the Farouk I University in Alexandria on account of my political activity, I became director of the local branch of the Jewish National Fund. Soon afterwards, I immigrated to Palestine, changing my name to Yehudi Smoli, settling in a kibbutz of the Shomer Hatzair movement and enlisting in the Haganah. I returned to Egypt in the autumn of 1945, realizing I would never be able to master the Hebrew language well enough to pursue my literary activity—I was already known as a surrealist poet (Tristan Sauvage) in France.
"In 1946, resuming my political involvement, I was among the founders of the Egyptian section of the Trotskyist Fourth International. I was arrested several times and in May, 1948 was transferred from Alexandria's Hadra prison to the Abukir internment camp. As a consequence of the February, 1949 armistice between Egypt and Israel, I was liberated in April and expelled to Italy where I settled in Milan. Three years later, in April, 1952, I founded a publishing house and soon won a name for myself printing monographs analyzing the postwar cultural climate, poetry books of both recognized poets and of young writers who were soon to be widely acclaimed, as well as texts by famous authors then still almost unpublished in Italy.
"My activities as a surrealist poet and writer had awakened my interest in the European avant-garde movements. From 1954, first in my bookshop and then, in 1961, when the bookshop became the Galleria Schwarz, I organized a series of exhibitions which included many first Italian showings of leading artists of the historical avant-gardes, as well as some of the most significant artists of the postwar avant-garde. I closed the gallery in 1975 to dedicate my time to writing, teaching, and lecturing."
More recently, Schwarz wrote: "My primary motivation for writing depends on what I wish to express. In the case of poems, I would like to give a permanent expression to my feelings. Thus my poetry aims to translate into words two basic human emotions: falling in love and striving for a better world. In the case of essays, I try to clarify, in as simple a language as I can master, problems of an esoteric, psychological, artistic, or anthropological nature. Thus my writing is mainly concerned with the teaching of the Kabbalah and alchemy, and their common archetypal patterns; with the history and aims of surrealistic and dada movements, their relationship, and their main poets and artists; and finally with prehistoric and tribal art.
"The two poets who influenced and inspired me most, and to whom I am most indebted, are André Breton and Benjamin Péret. This is not only because they have been the greatest exponents of 'automatic poetry,' but also on account of their theoretical contributions and their political commitment. In the case of essays, the philosophers who have had the most profound impact on me are Heraclitus, Lao Tze, and Spinoza.
"When I start a new project, I first write down a detailed plan, chapter by chapter, of the subject matter I want to deal with. I then study all its existing literature and, at the back of each book (or article), I set up my own index. I transfer this bibliographical information to the chapter to which it is related. This preparatory work may last for several years (in the case of the Duchamp monograph, it lasted fifteen years; in the case of my book on the relationship between the basic concepts common to the Kabbalah and alchemy, it lasted forty years). But once the preparatory exploration is over, writing the book is very speedy (from nine to eighteen months).
"I am urged to write a poem or an essay by an inner necessity. In the case of the poem, it has an almost therapeutic effect. Writing an essay, on any given subject in which I am deeply interested, enriches me considerably, but once the work is finished, I may forget about it, and even forget to send it to the publisher who commissioned it. This happened, for instance, with my study on May Ray. I was reminded to send it by my late wife who, a year after I had finished working on it, asked me, 'What happened to your work on May Ray?' In other words, for me, writing a book is like seeking the Philosopher's Stone, remembering that the pursuit is the Stone.
"At the age of seventy-nine, I am the sum of my experiences, dreams, reflections, and readings. I believe that my writing reflects this reality, and while I think that, stylistically, my language has not changed a great deal, it may have acquired more depth and clarity."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Apollo, June, 1970, p. 483.
Booklist, May 1, 1970, p. 1071; April 15, 1978, review of May Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, p. 1310.
Choice, September, 1970, p. 828; June, 1978, p. 536.
Domus, July-August, 1998, Elena Pontiggia, review of The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp.
Library Journal, June 1, 1970, Ronald Ghiz, review of The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp, pp. 2134-2135; May 1, 1978, p. 964.
Nation, September 7, 1970, p. 188.
New Statesman, May 29, 1970, p. 781.
New York Review of Books, June 1, 1972, p. 19.
Observer (London, England), December 11, 1977, p. 30.
Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1970, p. 78; January 16, 1978, p. 89.
Time, July 14, 1986, p. 67.
Times Literary Supplement, May 21, 1970, p. 554; January 13, 1978, p. 33.
Village Voice, September 18, 1978, p. 132.