Intellectual Super Clique

This post is specifically for Kiki, because I think she gets the same sort of kick out of this as I do:

This is a picture taken by Brassaï in 1944 at the opening of Picasso's play, Desire Caught by the Tail.

In this photo, we see, standing from left to right:

Jacques Lacan, philosopher and psychoanalyst;
Cecile Eluard, daughter of the surrealist poet Paul Eluard;
Pierre Reverdy, surrealist and cubist poet;
Luoise Leiris, wife of gallery owner Michel;
Pablo Picasso, artist and playwright;
Zanie de Campan, actress;
Valentine Hugo, artist and wife of great-grandson of Victor Hugo;
Simone de Beauvoir, author and feminist;
Brassaï, photographer;

sitting from left to right:

Jean-Paul Sartre, philosopher and author;
Albert Camus, author;
Michel Leiris, owner of famous Gallerie Luoise Leiris;
Jean Aubier, editor.

Photo thanks to Lacan.com. The scene of scenes, if I may be so bold. This is the French intellectual set that will basically direct Paris in the fifties into the sixties. I don't know why Georges Bataille isn't in the photograph, he's my favorite one.

In another life, we all would hang out.

Does this ever happen anymore? I mean, I'm sure artists and authors all get together for social events, but it strikes me that these days everyone is too competitive to form a scene. There is no collaboration on this level. The only time names like these would all be together is for a promotional photo shoot. Not just hanging out in the salon.

Check out this other photo, shot at the same time:

Much more candid. Look, Camus is petting the dog! I want to chill at the place where the two most famous existential authors in the world are on the floor playing with a dog! Let's drink wine, talk about ressentiment, and playing with the freaking dog!

They just don't make intellectual cliques like they used to do.


kiki said...

oh wow! the photo is awesome, and i DO, definitively, get a kick out of it!! camus petting a dog: man! i think what is so appealing about this sort of moment (besides the pure jealously factor) is that it makes clear the fact that history, and lots of its best moments, doesn't happen in a vacuum.

there is also--at least on some level--the fact that they allow you to imagine, briefly!, that maybe one day some picture of you and your friends just screwing around will be jaw-dropping, because you are (or will be) all remarkable.

as a picasso aside: the link is to a portrait that looks EXACTLY like my father.

Adam Rothstein said...

Despite history not existing in a vacuum, I think it also keeps the figures themselves from being hollow. These are actual people with relationships, friendships, and more often than not, problematic personalities. Just like college students, the intellectuals tend to have dramatic relationships. My favorite example is that Lacan married Bataille's wife. psychoanalyze that!

And don't worry, we will be remarkable. I'm just wondering what the world will think of 10-10 costumes.

Rachael rachael.lonsdale@ said...

Hi Adam, I'm researching pictures for a forthcoming book at the moment and would absolutely love to get my hands on these photographs, particularly the one with Camus stroking the dog. They're proving incredibly tricky to track down. I know it's a long shot, but do you have any inkling as to where you got it from? Any help very very much appreciated! Rachael

Adam Rothstein said...

Hi Rachel,

I know that the first one is from the photo collection at Lacan.com. It's a "fan-site" for the psychoanalyst, and they have a large gallery of pictures of him, with various other people. I stumbled across it there, and was struck by the entire party.
Although the second shot, with the dog, is clearly from the same time and place (apart from the whole, "stepping in the same river twice" thing), I can't remember if the second take is also from Lacan.com, or if I scooped it from Google Images. Both photos do come up on Google Images, esp. if you search for the name of the play. (Lacan.com lists that info, I forget.) If I were you, I would check the Lacan site first, because being an intellectual site, they would probably be privy to more detailed information like the identity of the photographer, ownership, etc.
What is your forth-coming book about, if you don't mind sharing?

Good luck!