During the early days of the Second World War, the Catalan painter Joan Miro created a startling series of twenty-three gouaches, his Constellations, works redolent with the nightmare of contemporary events. In 1958 the French poet Andre Breton composed his own "Constellations," a set of hermetic prose poems meant to "illustrate"—that is, not simply to shed light on, but to lend luster to—Miro's paintings, and to resume a peripatetic dialogue about exile. In Constellations of Miro, Breton, Paul Hammond unravels some of the mysteries of the call-and-response of these two surrealists by reading the pictures against the poetry, the poetry against the pictures, and both against the madness of a history that none of us has left that far behind.
Featured in this edition are reproductions of the complete series of Joan Miro's Constellations and a translation of Andre Breton's "proses paralleles." Also included is Andre Breton's essay, "Constellations of Joan Miro," as well as documentary illustrations and photographs.
Paul Hammond is the author of Marvellous Melies, French Undressing, Upon the Pun: Dual Meaning in Words and Pictures (with Patrick Hughes), and a monograph on Luis Bunuel's L'Age d'or. He is the editor and translator of The Shadow and Its Shadow:Surrealist Writings on the Cinema (a new edition published by City Lights Books in Fall 2000), and the coeditor, with Ian Breakwell, of Seeing in the Dark: A Compendium of Cinemagoing and Brought to Book: The Balance of Books and Life. His translations include Whatever by Michel Houellebecq and The Virgin of the Hitmen by Fernando Vallejo.