0296 Paolo Uccello in French Surrealism: Doubling Antonin Artaud
In the 1920s and '30s the fourteenth-century Italian artist Paolo Uccello was appropriated as a precursor of Surrealism in the French surrealist discourse. Pivotal were two texts, a mini-play and an essay, that the playwright Antonin Artaud, then in his surrealist phase, dedicated to Uccello between 1924 and 1926. This article analyses both texts and shows the construction, by Artaud, of Uccello as his potential double, and especially as someone dedicated to mind over matter, a key facet of Uccello’s reception as a fellow traveler of Surrealism. It identifies an artwork ascribed to Uccello, discussed by Artaud and thought imaginary, as a panel currently in the Louvre. Finally, it shows that an imagined biography of the artist by the symbolist writer Marcel Schwob forms the key hypotext for Artaud and other surrealists, with strong echoes of Vasari’s vita of Uccello, which was in turn Schwob’s hypotext.
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