Mentors: The Making of an Art Historian


Product Details

$24.95  $22.95
Doppelhouse Press
Publish Date
5.6 X 8.5 X 0.9 inches | 0.6 pounds

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About the Author

Francis M. Naumann is an independent scholar, curator, and art dealer, specializing in the art of the Dada and Surrealist periods. He is author of numerous articles and exhibition catalogues, including New York Dada 1915-25 (Harry N. Abrams, 1994), considered to be the definitive history of the movement, and Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Harry N. Abrams, 1999), Wallace Putnam (Harry N. Abrams, 2002) and Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray (Rutgers University Press, 2002). In 1996, he organized Making Mischief: Dada Invades New York for the Whitney Museum of American Art; in 1997, Beatrice Wood: A Centennial Tribute for the American Craft Museum in New York; and, in 2003, he co-curated Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray for the Montclair Art Museum. His most recent book is The Recurrent, Haunting Ghost: Essays on the Art, Life and Legacy of Marcel Duchamp (Readymade Press, 2012). He currently owns and operates a gallery in New York City, which specializes in art from the Dada and Surrealist periods, as well as work by contemporary artists who possess related aesthetic sensibilities.


Over the course of [over] 35 years, Naumann made several discoveries about Duchamp, all addressed in his lively book. One was the piece Étant donnés (1945-1966), Duchamp's ambitious erotic assemblage, glimpsed through peepholes. The figure in that piece was Maria Martins, a beautiful dark-haired sculptor and the wife of the Brazilian ambassador to the United States. [...] Naumann also devotes a lengthy chapter to Duchamp's long-running interest in the science of optics. [...] Other essays delve into the affinities between Duchamp and Andy Warhol and take aim at the many virulent attacks on Duchamp from critics like Hilton Kramer, Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg, and former ARTnews editor Thomas Hess.
- Ann Landi, ARTnews
Reading about Marcel Duchamp can be hard work, unless the writer has Francis Naumann's ability to leaven imaginative scholarship with clarity, candor, insight, and high spirits. The most influential artist of the last century caught Naumann's attention more than forty years ago, when he saw a reproduction of Duchamp's bicycle wheel mounted on a kitchen stool, and asked himself how this could be art. The question has pursued him ever since, and his consistently fresh approaches to Duchamp's work and Duchamp's life, set down in agile and jargon-free prose, make these collected essays the single most informative book you will find on the endlessly fascinating artist.
- Calvin Tomkins
Renowned Dada scholar Naumann brings a fresh focus on Duchamp's interests in reproduction and appropriation and is thus a welcome addition [to scholarship on Duchamp]. In highly readable prose, Naumann recounts the artist's career in chronological chapters, emphasizing both his early use of printing techniques to undermine deliberately his own career in painting and his later readymades and variant reproductions. Throughout, Naumann clearly shows how Duchamp harnessed mechanical reproduction paradoxically in the service of his constant striving not to repeat himself. Meticulously laid out and adorned with 440 illustrations (200 in color) of objects in [Ronny] van de Velde's collection and other seminal works, the book can serve equally the newcomer and the devotee. Highly recommended.
- Library Journal
After studying Duchamp for 40 years, [Naumann] was not expecting to come up with anything startling while working on The Recurrent, Haunting Ghost, his book on the master. But while he was looking at Duchamp's interest in optics, Naumann came across something truly Duchampian in that it was at once esoteric and naughty.
- The Art Newspaper
An odd but consistently engaging text about academic mentorship, about art, about art history, about writing, about ageing, about illness, about artists and about being successful and self-confident in New York in the second half of the twentieth century. It's an unexpected pleasure. [...] This is undeniably an enjoyable book, full of humour and personality and a real sense of all the various people who mean a lot to Naumann. It's an easy, warm, unpatronising read and - entering it with no pre-conceptions at all - thoroughly enjoyable!
- Scott Manley Hadley, Triumph of the Now
[A]t heart, Mentors is an accessible and richly detailed celebration of intense cross-generational exchanges between individuals who champion and challenge each other. Naumann's cogent and open communicative style, and his personal and professional integrity, should be inspirational and valuable to all, for Mentors is an encounter with a fine and fiercely exacting mind.
- Hyperallergic
"Naumann's writing is entertaining and authentic. He sings the praises of those who formed his own character as well as embraces their flaws. From the bordellos to the classrooms and from high rises to high on the hills of France and Italy, this story offers a unique and riveting view into the world of art history and the people therein."
- Seattle Book Review, 4.5 stars