The Bride and the Bachelors by Calvin Tomkins: Revised edition by Gagosian Gallery

The Gagosian Gallery has released a revised and expanded edition of Calvin Tomkin’s The Bride and the Bachelors. The original 1965 edition, subtitled The Heretical Courtship in Modern Art, reflected the individual, shared and connected practices of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Jean Tinguely, and Robert Rauschenberg. A fifth chapter on Merce Cunningham’s innovations in dance was added for the 1968 edition. This new edition features a completely new chapter on the life and work of Jasper Johns, and a new preface written by Tomkins.

In The Bride and the Bachelors, Tomkins presents the artists’ shared pursuit of the “bride”, what Rauschenberg calls the “gap” between art and life. He examines each artist’s work and its significance in the real world, from Duchamp’s shocking readymades; to Cage and Cunningham’s collaborations which left works open to much interpretation; to Johns’ dynamic and shifting approach to art making; to Tinguely’s indifference to the definition of artwork, suggesting that “once you get rid of the notion of art you acquire a great many wonderful new freedoms”. With new insights combined with nearly half a century of hindsight, The Bride and the Bachelors stands as the most intimate and authoritative account of these artists’ practices, reaffirming their roles as influential voices of the avant-garde.

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Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Robert McKeever

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A portrait of Calvin Tomkin © Sara Barrett. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

by Louise Lui