THE SECRET ART OF ANTONIN ARTAUD by Jacques Derrida and Paul Thévenin, introduction by Mary Ann Caws
MIT Press, 1998, First edition, 176 pp., 7 3/4" X 9 1/2", Hardcover
The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud is the first English translation of two famous texts on his drawings and portraits. In one, Jacques Derrida examines the works that he first saw on the walls of Paule Thévenin's apartment. His text, as frenzied as Artaud's, struggles with Artaud's peculiar language and is punctuated by footnotes and asides that reflect this strain ("How will they translate this?"). The more straightforward text of Paule Thévenin describes the history of Artaud's drawings and portraits.
Due to a dispute between Artaud's heirs and Paule Thévenin, the book does not contain reproductions of Artaud's artwork. Instead, there is a series of haunting photographs of Artaud by Georges Pastier. Artaud most likely would have approved of the irony of publishing a book entitled The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud without reproductions of the work--a catalogue irraisonn as it were. "We won't be describing any paintings," says Derrida in the text, which is addressed to that which underlies both language and art.