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Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art

Contributions by Nicholas Hall
Published by David Zwirner Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art explores the ways in which artists have sought to explain their world in terms of an alternate reality, drawn from imagination, the subconscious, poetry, nature, myth, and religion. 

Endless Enigma takes as its point of departure Alfred H. Barr Jr.’s legendary 1936 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, which not only introduced these movements to the American public, but also placed them in a historical and cultural context by situating them with artists from earlier centuries. 

Presenting works from the twelfth century to the present day, this catalogue is organized into six themes—Monsters & Demons, Dreams & Temptation, Fragmented Body, Unconscious Gesture, Super Nature, and Sense of Place. Works included range from medieval gargoyles to twentieth-century works by Louise Bourgeois, Sigmar Polke, and Pablo Picasso as well as contemporary works by Michaël Borremans, Marcel Dzama, and Raymond Pettibon. Masterworks from the likes of Piero di Cosimo, Francisco de Goya, and Titian are considered alongside those by William Blake and Odilon Redon. Time folds and temporal barriers collapse when Damiano Cappelli meets Edvard Munch, and Salvator Rosa encounters Luc Tuymans and Lisa Yuskavage. Salvador Dalí, Sherrie Levine, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Kerry James Marshall—eight centuries intersect and, as such, this wide-ranging catalogue examines affinities in intention and imagery between works executed across a broad span of time.

Organized in collaboration with Nicholas Hall, a specialist in the field of Old Masters and nineteenth-century art, this fully illustrated catalogue is published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner, New York, in 2018. It includes new scholarship by Dawn Ades, Olivier Berggruen, and J. Patrice Marandel.

About The Authors

Product Details

  • Publisher: David Zwirner Books (April 23, 2019)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781941701881

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Raves and Reviews

Endless Enigma “exceeds the ‘museum-quality’ designation and edges toward once-in-a-lifetime status.”

– Roberta Smith, The New York Times

“You don’t get more museum quality than this show.”

– Staff, Time Out New York

“The one show you absolutely shouldn’t miss. Art just doesn’t get any better than what’s on view in ‘Endless Enigma.’”

– Paddy Johnson, Observer

“A provocative selection of more than 130 paintings and works of art that span from the fourteenth century to the present, and their connecting thread being clearly explicit in two words of the show’s titles: ‘enigma’ and ‘fantastic.’”

– Marco Grassi, The New Criterion

“In its heady blend of Old Masters, Modern and contemporary, Endless Enigma is not an exhibition to be seen and processed at once, but repays several visits for all its quiet relationships to be explored and engaged. And once again–everything works.”

– Paul Jeromack, The Art Newspaper

“This exhibition is gratifyingly wide-ranging, from the twelfth-century to right now in 2018. The point of it all is of course how we re-look at something as squishy as the imagination and its inventions, and how we resituate the range of items we are considering in relation to the present moment and however we conceive of the contemporary avant-garde.”

– Mary Ann Caws, The Brooklyn Rail

“But those who are not in New York, or who miss the show, can look forward to the fully illustrated catalogue.”

– Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, The Brooklyn Rail

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More books from this author: Dawn Ades