On August 17 1911—seven years before Max Ernst took up scissors and paste to create his early Dada art—WHAT A LIFE! was published in London by Methuen & Co. The authors, Edward Verrall Lucas (humorist & travel writer) and George Morrow ( illustrator and regular contributor to Punch), produced their satirical pictorial autobiography using illustrations cut from the pages of Whiteley’s General Catalogue. This inspired act of vandalism was a precursor to many works of avant-garde collage art and satire.
Long out of print in the U.S., Black Scat is proud to bring this proto-Dada classic back to life as #34 in our Absurdist Texts & Documents series.
WHAT A LIFE ! was exhibited at MoMA’s 1936 “Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism” show.
WHAT A LIFE! seems to have made little impression, either in England or in France, even though it has the remarkable distinction of being illustrated solely by collages drawn from the catalogue of a large department store in London (Whiteley’s), and therefore of being—as much by the images as by the text that they comment on—one of the first manifestations of that spirit we call “modern.” —Raymond Queneau, Bâtons, chiffres et lettres (1950)
What a Life!
E. V. Lucas & George Morrow
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