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Marcel Dzama: The Book of Ballet

Contributions by Lucas Zwirner / Text by Hans Christian Andersen
Published by David Zwirner Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Published on the occasion of his collaborative ballet with choreographer Justin Peck and musician Bryce Dessner at the New York City Ballet, The Book of Ballet documents the genesis of all aspects of the project.

Marcel Dzama’s prolific output as a draftsman has, in recent years, expanded to include works in many different media—film, sculpture, dance, collage, and even a recent collaboration with artist Raymond Pettibon are all part of his current practice. His at times surreal, often frightening vision, translates beautifully to film and dance, where actors in complex costumes bring to life the worlds Dzama draws on paper.

The gem-like booklet begins with “The Most Incredible Thing,” the Hans Christian Andersen story on which the ballet is based, and continues to present Dzama’s costume designs. The images not only show final design decisions, but also chart the changes in costumes as the project unfolded, and the ways in which Dzama’s conception of the characters in the ballet shifted over time. The book closes with a conversation between Dzama and Peck in which choreographer and artist discuss the nuances of their collaborative process, and the important role of renowned composer Dessner in bringing the project to life. Also included is a poster made specifically for this book by the artist.

About The Authors

The work of Marcel Dzama (b. 1974, Winnipeg) is characterized by an immediately recognizable visual language that draws from a diverse range of references and artistic influences, including Dada and Marcel Duchamp. While he has become known for his prolific drawings with their distinctive palette of muted colors, the artist’s practice also encompasses sculpture, painting, film, and dioramas.

Product Details

  • Publisher: David Zwirner Books (March 15, 2016)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781941701270

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Raves and Reviews

"Marcel Dzama’s sets and costumes are “an immersive, surreal and edgy world that feels like you’ve wandered into an antique shop in another galaxy. There’s a patina to his brilliant blues, greens and golds, a very different palette for ballet, and the colors and striking silhouettes encourage the eye to linger and discover.”

– Sarah L. Kaufman, The Washington Post

“Dzama consistently turns ballet into his own genially macabre brand of martial art, in which competing armies perform the equivalent of a dance-off that leaves the stage littered with body parts.”

– Staff, Border Crossings

“Marcel Dzama conjures a strange world of dancing animals, club-armed villains, and double-bodied kings for a new ballet by choreographer Justin Peck.”

– Rebecca Bates, Paddle8

“Amazing costumes designed by Dzama… His drawings and sculptures were on display all around the David H. Koch Theater, as well as inThe Book of Ballet, a handsome takeaway co-published by David Zwirner Gallery. They evoke Tim Burton, the occult, Jodorowsky, Alice in Wonderland, art deco, and Wes Anderson.”

– Daniel Maurer, Bedford and Bowery

“Marcel's admiration of chess-loving Marcel Duchamp and a variety of other diverse points of inspiration brought this incredible work to life.”

– TCP Staff, Vice

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