Kill John Bull with art! : what went wrong? by Ralph Rumney [1969]

RUMNEY, Ralph. Kill John Bull with art! : what went wrong?In Studio International Vol. 178, no. 917 (pp. 216-221). London: Cory, Adams, and Mackay, 1969. ca. 80 p. (i-xvi + 64 p. [numbered 201-264]); ill.; 25 x 31 cm.; ill. wrappers.

Rare piece by Ralph Rumney, published in the British arts magazine Studio International: Journal of Modern Art. Technically, the article is a review of the show Abstract Art in England 1913-1915, the first broad survey of the Vorticist movement. It was held at the d’Offay Couper Gallery in London from November 11 to December 5, 1969. But, as often with Rumney, it is so much more than that.

The British artist and former member of the Situationist International praises the exhibition, “likely to be the only occasion we shall have to see a considerable selection of important work from this period [1913-1915]” (pp. 216). He goes on to express his admiration for Vorticism, an avant-garde movement founded by (Percy) Windham Lewis and whose other members included the likes of Laurence Atkinson, William Roberts, David Bomberg, Edward Wadsworth, and others. Vorticists rejected landscapes and nudes in favor of bold, abstract geometric shapes. Its members – “all except one who were under thirty” (ibid) – were contemporaries of Mondrian, Malevitch, Arp, and others — but these artists were not yet known in England. In their only contemporary show in the UK at the Dore Gallery, Vorticists positioned their movement against Naturalism, Cubism, and Futurism all at once: “By Vorticism we mean (a) Activity as opposed to the tasteful passivity of Picasso. (b) Signifiance as opposed to the dull and anecdotal character to which the Naturalist is condemned. (c) Essential Movement and Activity (such as the energy of a mind) as opposed to the imitative cinematography , the fuss and the hysterics of the Futurists” (ibid). Vorticism is perhaps best remembered through the short-lived magazine Blast.

It’s easy to see what Rumney admires in the Vorticists: just like him (and the Situationists), they were young, bold, and not afraid to launch a frontal assault against artistic currents that gained notoriety in the public sphere.

In the second part of the article, however, Rumney goes to lament the aftermath of the movement. Specifically, he wonders how World War 1 effectively put an end to the great Vorticist experiment: “What happened during the war to change radically the attitudes of a group of rebel artists into near conformity? What was it only in Engand that the mainstream of art was interrupted and diverted” (pp. 221). He then hypothesizes that the eradication of cafes and meeting places leads to an atomization of the artistic sphere: “The art scene is broken into smaller groups who have only occasional and suspicious contacts with each other…in this sense of the the disappearance of an efficient working environment the war was indeed ‘bad for art’, and that the change from rebellion to a sort of conformity which eventually led us to the insipidity of Unit One was the product, akin to brainwashing, of an unfamiliar world on men suffering from acute mental strain” (ibid). Rumney then goes on to cite an article entitled Combat Neurosis Development of Combat Exhaustion, published in a journal of neurology and psychiatry, as evidence. He concludes: “we are left with the tantalising prospect of what might have been if these artists had recovered from their wartime experiences and gone on producing abstract art through the ‘twenties and thirties to compare the dim reality of art in England from 1915 to 1955” (ibid)

It’s hard not to see parallels between the Vorticists and the intense burst of artistic activity that characterized Rumney’s own years in the Situationist International.

New Babylon (Portfolio with 10 lithographs by Constant) [1963]

CONSTANT (Nieuwenhuys). New Babylon. Amsterdam: Galerie d’Eendt, 1963. 10 lithographs on Hahnemühle-Bütten paper, loosely inserted in black original cloth boards with blindtooled title. Portfolio housed in a blue cloth portfolio container (41 cm. x 39 cm.). Text by Simon Vinkenoog. Signed at the colophon by both Constant and Vinkenoog. Edition of 60; this one is e1.

Spectacular artist portfolio by Constant, realized at the height of his New Babylon period. Accompanied by the text “Preeambuul bij een nieuwe wereld” (Preamble to a new world) by Simon Vinkenoog. Some of the lithographs are full-sheet (40 x 76 cm.) while others are half-sheets (40 x 38 cm). The portfolio was produced in an edition of 60, with 10 copies numbered I-X (issued with an original drawing) and 50 copies numbered 1-50.

Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften [2020]

KOTANYI, Christophe. Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften”. Axel Roch, Magda van Suntum (Eds.) 544pages, ill. Berlin: Gegenstalt, 2020

Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften is a tri-lingual book in French, English and German by Christophe Kotanyi, the son of Attila Kotányi, who was a member of the S.I. between 1959 and 1963. The book drifts in the philosophies of subjectivity, as they were debated and talked over between 1945 and 1956 in Hungary, just before Attila Kotányi fled Hungary, and traces the tremendous influence on the SI through Attila Kotányi by the so-called Budapest Dialogical School, which consisted of Lajos Szabó, Béla Hamvas, and Béla Tabor. The author Christophe Kotanyi states for instance that “Attila Kotányi most certainly discussed [Lajos] Szabó’s theory of subjectivity with the Situationists in Paris, at a time when they were working on a political theory in terms of subjectivity as the active force, seeking to think beyond the romantic concept of subjectivity inherited from Marxism,” (see p. 332)

Indeed, Guy Debord puts in his Society of the Spectacle dialogue as true from of communication against falseness and deceitfulness of the spectacle. Debord claims in §18 the spectacle “is the opposite of dialogue.” And Debord ends his 1967-manifesto claiming that the “‘historical mission of installing truth in the world’ cannot be accomplished either by the isolated individual, or by the atomized crowd subjected to manipulation,” but “only where dialogue arms itself to make its own conditions victorious” (§221). This is the “dialogical principle” as just one example of what the situationist took apparently from the Budapest Dialogical School. Dialogical philosophies not only preceded situationism, but were also, as it seems, introduced to the situationists in person by Attila Kotányi. Kotányi’s influences on Debord are, probably similar to those of Ivan Chtcheglov, of tremendous historical interest.

In a similar way as Attila Kotányi introduced dialogical thinking and the political philosophy of subjectivity to the Situationists between 1959-1963, the author of Cent dérives introduces to the reader key topics of the philosophy of Lajos Szabó, Béla Hamvas, and Béla Tabor, a philosophy forgotten in the West, but central not only to Europe, but to situationism as well. The author of Cent dérives states for instance clearly that “Attila Kotányi transmitted this principle and method [the dialogical principle and the political theory of subjectivity of the Budapest Dialogical School] to the Situationists in Paris in the early sixties,” see also pp.75, 117, 124, 172, 332, etc. The book Cent dérives, thus, ends with an incredible theatre play about the situationists. Actors like “Guy Bordstein”, obviously a mix between “Guy Debord” and “Michèle Bernstein”, enter the stage as pirates that seem to steal and smuggle concepts and ideas in a play called “Le perroquet gris”…

The book equally drifts on a ship in various philosophical currents, and offers the reader ideas and concepts, not only in three languages, but also on 544 pages. The book has been published in Berlin by gegenstalt as hardcover with five different covers.

Copies can be obtained at the publisher or on Amazon. Excerpts here:

Proclamation from l’Internationale Situationniste [1962]

DEBORD, [Guy]; KOTANYI, A[ttila]; LAUSEN, U[we]; VANEIGEM, R[aoul]. Proclamation from l’Internationale Situationniste. n.p. [Goteborg, Sweden]: Internationale Situationniste, 23 March 1962. 1 p.; 21 x 15 cm.; black ink on thin red stock.

English language leaflet written by Debord in response to the future “Nashists'”(Jacqueline de Jong, Jörgen Nash and Ansgar Elde) own denunciation of their expulsion from the SI (see Nicht Hinauslehnen = Ne pas se pencher au dèhors = E pericoloso sporgesi! = Danger! Do not lean out! = Det är livsfarligt att luta sig ut! = Niet naar buiten hangen!). The formatting and typography of the two leaflets are indeed very similar.

Nash and Elde are blamed for their “support [of] a number of collectors with the aid of the recently repelled fraction which was excluded from the German section at the Paris conference of the Conseil Central on the 10th of February”. JV Martin becomes the “supreme authority to represent l’Internationale Situationniste in the area covered by the former Scandinavian section…”

Full text available here:

BnF (Jeu de la Guerre) 219. Gonzalvez 117. Scheppe & Ohrt 201

We locate copies at Yale’s Beinecke Library (Jacqueline de Jong papers) and at the BNF (Guy Debord archive)

Nicht Hinauslehnen = Ne pas se pencher au dèhors = E pericoloso sporgesi! = Danger! Do not lean out! = Det är livsfarligt att luta sig ut! = Niet naar buiten hangen! [1962]

DE JONG, Jacqueline; NASH, Jorgen; ELDE, Ansgar. Nicht Hinauslehnen = Ne pas se pencher au dèhors = E pericoloso sporgesi! = Danger! Do not lean out! = Det är livsfarligt att luta sig ut! = Niet naar buiten hangen!. Paris: n.p., 13 February 1962. 11 p.; 23.5 x 17.5 cm.; black ink on green stock.

English language leaflet written by the future “Nashists” (Jacqueline de Jong, Jorgen Nash and Ansgar Elde) to denounce the expulsion of SPUR members from the SI. While Jorn did not sign the leaflet, he is believed to have financed its publication. Nash would go on to form the 2nd Situationist International after his own expulsion less than two months later.

“Paris, a witches’ cauldron of political instigations and demonstrations, armoured cars in the streets, the bloody shadow of the Algerian war, OAS, FLN, clearing murders and torture. Strikes, Police raids, censorship, no gallic clarity but a dark witches’ trial, shootings and reprisals, many dead and wounded. Paris, where our Conseil Central hold a meeting in the Internationale Situationniste the 10th and 11th February 1962, 129 Boulevard Saint-German – even here brother against brother!”

Scheppe & Ohrt 200.

We locate copies at Yale’s Beinecke Library (Jacqueline de Jong papers), at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), at the MACBA (Barcelona)

Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations [1967]

VANEIGEM, Raoul. Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations. Paris: Gallimard, November 1967. 167 p.; 20.5 x 14 cm. Beige cover with text in black and red

First edition of Raoul Vaneigem’s masterpiece. Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations is one of the two cornerstones of Situationist theory (along with Guy Debord’s La Société du spectacle, published around the same time by Buchet-Chastel). Excerpts would quickly be translated into English (“Two sections from “Treatise on Living by Raoul Vaneigem”, Re-invention of Everyday Life, 1970), with the full text translated (in two parts) by John Fullerton and Paul Sieveking as “Treatise on Living for the Use of Young Generation” around 1972. Future translations will change the title to “The Revolution of Everyday Life”.

Exceptionally signed by author on title page: “Avec tous mes remerciements pour cette passion et cet interet pour mon travail – Raoul”

Council for Liberation of Imagination [1969]

COUNCIL FOR LIBERATION OF IMAGINATION. [I have been a PL member for a month now…]. n.p. [Cambridge, MA?]: Council for Liberation of Imagination, n.d. [1969?]. 1 p.; ill.; 21 x 29.5 cm.; black ink on white stock

Leaflet published by a mysterious “Council for the Liberation of Imagination”, likely an offshoot of the Council for Conscious Existence (itself an offshoot of Radical Action Cooperative when its members moved to Harvard — more details here) that Hannah Ziegellaub (who was one of the translators of the first English language edition of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spetacle — more details here) was a member of. There were many such, often ephemeral “Council” groups in the late 1960s: the Council for the Liberation of Daily Life, the Council for the Eruption of the Marvelous, the Council for Conscious Existence, etc.

Very Situ inspired: “Due to your insufficient critique of your daily life and its poverty, you continue to participate in the spectacular commodity system. Capitalist society creates the illusion of participation. And it learned from Eastern bureaucracies how to organize the illusion of participation…”

We do not locate any information or holdings about the Council for the Liberation of Imagination in the trade or on OCLC.

Nous rions mais jamais en meme temps que vous [2020]

[DEBORD, GUY]. Nous rions mais jamais en meme temps que vous. Paris: Edition privée hors commerce, 2020. 15 x10.5 cm.; ill. color postcard.

A postcard released as an homage to Guy Debord. The slogan was originally released as a header for the text “Position du continent Contrescarpe” in Lèvres nues, no 9, p. 38, novembre 1956 (see below). Also accounted for in Guy Debord, Correspondance volume 0, p. 126 and Lettres à Marcel Mariën, p. 72.

Copies of the detourned postcard can be obtained free of charge from Edition privée hors commerce (see PDF linked)

Ne Teletravaillez Jamais! [2020]

[DEBORD, GUY]. Ne télétravaillez jamais. Paris: Edition privée hors commerce, 2020. 15 x10.5 cm.; ill. color postcard.

A detournement of the original French postcard (designed by Louis Buffier) featuring a colorized photograph of the famous “Ne travaillez jamais” (Never Work) graffito, for which Debord claims ownership. This was released on the occasion of COVID-19 and the shift to remote work during the pandemic.

More details on the original postcard can be found on the blog here

Copies of the detourned postcard can be obtained free of charge from Edition privée hors commerce

[Guy Debord] Le Surréalisme, une révolution de l’irrationnel [1968]

Anonymous [Debord, Guy]. Les Cahiers de l’Encyclopedie du Monde Actuel no. 35.  Le Surréalisme, une révolution de l’irrationnel. Lausanne: Rencontres, September 1968. 32 p.; ill.; 14 x 20 cm.; ill. B&W wrappers with pictures of surrealist books and leaflets.

Text attributed to Guy Debord, which features a brief history of the Surrealist movement.

Gerard Berreby, who spoke to Donald Nicholson-Smith, Mustapha Khayati, and a few others explains the genesis of the Situationists’ participation to the Encyclopedie du Monde Actuel: “The participation of the “situationist group” in the Encyclopédie du monde actuel [EDMA] wasn’t official. There were a few small-paying jobs to which some members of the SI devoted themselves. The work consisted in drafting “EDMA cards” and, eventually, monthly booklets. (Each perforated card included a 500-word-long text; each booklet contained around 30 illustrated pages.) At the start, in 1966, it was my wife, Cathy Pozzo di Borgo, and I who began to produce, on a freelance basis, this type of card under the direction of André Fougerousse – Cathy’s stepfather – for publication by Editions Rencontre in Lausanne. Along with Charles-Henri Favrod, Fougerousse had been (in 1962) one of the founders of this editorial project. Later on, we passed the cards “to be done” to friends, including Mustapha and Raoul [Vaneigem]…The members of the SI, no doubt with Raoul at the head, had, for the most part, continued to contribute to EDMA more or less until 1974. In this way, many of the booklets were written by situationists or ex-situs – even after the dissolution of the movement in 1972. Guy Debord drafted Le Surréalisme in September 1968. ” (translation by NotBored!; emphasis is mine).

Uncommon, with a single copy on OCLC and none in the trade.

We reproduce the text in full below as we do not believe it is available anywhere online