“...I hate the word ‘collectionism’. All what I gathered was not done in the name of the private property, but for the love for art, particularly for Surrealism, which deeply marked my life ”
Arturo Umberto Samuele Schwarz , June 2014
We are proud to be able to present our new exhibition showcasing a selection of works on paper and ready-mades from the Arturo Schwartz gallery.
Arturo Umberto Samuele Schwarz, son of a German father and an Italian mother, is an Italian scholar, art historian, poet, writer and curator. He was born in Alexandria (Egypt) in 1924 and lived there until 1949, when he moved to Milan. There he opened his gallery and started collecting important pieces of Dada and Surrealist Art, including many works by personal friends, such as Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, Man Ray, and Jean Arp.The Schwarz gallery started as an avant-garde publishing house. In April 1952, when he was twenty eight-years old, Arturo Schwartz started his career in one of the Milan’s suburban backstreets. He soon won a name for himself printing texts by authors then almost unpublished in Italy, - André Breton, Albert Einstein, Daniel Guerin, Pierre Naville, Benjamin Peret, Leon Trotsky – and monographs concerning the new cultural climate that developed in the post-war period.
The young publisher’s classical education (degrees in philosophy and natural sciences), along with his activity as a Surrealist poet and writer, had, since 1944, predisposed him to an interest in European avant-gardes.
He combined his activity as an art dealer with a strong philanthropic need. During a recent interview in June 2014, he said: “A man is many things at the same time and there is no contradiction between being a merchant and having the need to transmit a heritage. There is a spiritual willing which goes beyond the money and it is stronger than that. That’s why I donated around a thousand works to four big international museums”.
“Though I am an agnostic, I am profoundly attached to the ethical values of Judaism,'' he said. ''For us, a good act is a commandment. Besides, I feel it is immoral that a private person should egoistically keep hold of something that the community could usefully enjoy.''
The gallery was closed in 1975, after twenty-one years of activity. Despite the closure of this important art centre, Schwarz continued to have an active and busy cultural life. In 1994 he was elected to the board of governors of the University of Tel Aviv which rewarded him with a degree in philosophy and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. He is also an honorary fellow of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, having donated his seven hundreds-piece collection of Dada and Surrealist art to the museum. He also donated an important collection to the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome.
Schwarz’s passion for Surrealism exploded after reading the Manifesto by André Breton. In the early 40s he sent Breton some pieces of poetry and Breton replied encouraging him to write. Then Schwarz decided to join the Surrealist group. He was happy to be in touch with artists who were “extremely free and intellectually honest”. He first met Duchamp in 1945 and they became close friends.
The first exhibition was organised at the first venue, a bookshop in Via Sant’Andrea, in May 1954 and was a homage to Marcel Duchamp. Schwarz chose to put on display books, etchings and some sculptures. In the same month he organised a very interesting exhibition showing the books of the main Surrealist poets (Breton, Char, Eluard, Lautremont, Prevert and others), illustrated by the main surrealist artists (Brauner, Dali, Miro, Masson, Tanguy) and published at Guy Levis-Mano in Paris.
MARCEL DUCHAMP 1887 - 1968
An Original Revolutionary Fauce:Mirrorical return, 1964
Original Hand Signed and Numbered Etching on paper
Plate Size: 17.5 x 13.2 cm / 6.8 x 5.2 in
The caption reads: “Un robinet original revolutionnaire, renvoi miriorique? Un robinet qui s’arrete de couler quand on ne l’ecoute pas”, which translates “An original revolutionary faucet, mirrorical return? A Faucet which stops dripping when nobody is listening to it”.
In this work Duchamp pays his tribute to his 1917 Readymade, Fountain, an ordinary men’s –room urinal that he sent to the first exhibition of the Society of Independents in New York.
The etching process requires the preparation of a plate in reverse, in effect, a mirror image of the final result.