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Exhibition features rare book by poet Éluard and artist Miró

Feb. 22 through June 29, 2008 · Milberg Gallery, Firestone Library

An exhibition highlighting the artistic collaborations of French poet Paul Éluard and Catalan artist Joan Miró will be on display from Friday, Feb. 22, to Sunday, June 29, in Firestone Library's Milberg Gallery.

The exhibition opening will be celebrated on Sunday, March 9, with a lecture at 3 p.m. in Betts Auditorium, School of Architecture. Elza Adamowicz, professor of French and visual culture at Queen Mary, University of London, will present "The Surrealist Artist's Book: Beyond the Page." A reception will follow at 4 p.m. in the Milberg Gallery.

The University Library's Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired the book, "À Toute Épreuve," with text by Éluard and 79 original woodcuts by Miró. Described by a contemporary art critic as "one of the most triumphant feats of book illustration in our century," the project represents a high point in Miró's illustrious career. It is also a rare find: The publisher printed only 20 copies of this "première édition illustrée," which includes an extra suite of prints without text.

The entire volume can be seen in the exhibition, titled "Notre Livre: 'À Toute Épreuve.' A Collaboration Between Joan Miró and Paul Éluard."

"'À Toute Épreuve,' one of the greatest books published in the 20th century, is such a treasure, and Princeton University is a richer institution for having acquired it," Graphic Arts Curator Julie Mellby said.

The three suites of poems in "À Toute Épreuve" were written by Éluard in 1930 during a time of great emotional turmoil, after his wife left him for the artist Salvador Dalí. In the 1950s, Éluard’s close friend, Miró, reinterpreted the verse into a celebration of love and perseverance.

Working over the better part of 11 years, Miró devised printing blocks from planks of wood collaged with plastic, wire, old engravings and bark paper, preparing more than 233 woodcuts to form 79 prints. According to Mellby, the resulting images practically dance across the page.

Funds for the acquisition of the book were provided by three University library collections: the Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology, and the Rare Book Division and the Graphic Arts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

The exhibition's hours are 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Wednesday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Summer hours begin June 9, when the gallery is open 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 8:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. Wednesday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

More information about the exhibition is available on the Graphic Arts Collection website.

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