Scrap Book 1900-1981

London: Thames and Hudson. 1981.

Presentation copy to Stephen and Natasha Spender with an original drawing by Penrose on the title page. First edition. 265x185mm. pp. 299, [1]. White cloth, lettered in black to spine, illustrated dustjacket. Slight scuffing to dust jacket at head and foot of spine and at corners. Illustrated endpapers. Internally fine. Illustrated throughout with colour and black and white photographs. The drawing by Penrose on the title page is an abstract design in green, black and red pastel and the inscription reads "for Stephen and Natasha with my love Roland". Spender and Penrose moved in the same modernist circles in the 1930s and remained friends and like-minded colleagues for the rest of their lives. Penrose, a Quaker, was a committed pacifist while Spender reacted against his youthful communism when the violent and totalitarian nature of the Soviet regime became apparent. They were both committed to freedom of speech and were founder members of Writers and Scholars International (now known as Index on Censorship). Theirs was a friendship forged through artistic and political connections.
A very good copy of Penrose's "autobiographical collage" taking the reader on a step-by-step journey through the artist's life. Penrose's approach is to combine a short piece of text with numerous photographs and reproductions of works of art central to his story. As one of the organisers of the London International Surrealist Exhibition, Penrose helped form the English Surrealist Movement and he remained a central figure in British avant-garde art circles. Penrose knew everyone: he brought Picasso's Guernica to England, had an affair with Peggy Guggenheim and married Lee Miller, photographs of whose camouflaged naked body he used in his wartime lectures on the art of military camouflage. He was one of the founders of the ICA and, as a trustee of the Tate, helped form its important collections of Cubist and Surrealist work.

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