September 7, 2012
The Frick Art Reference Library recently acquired a three volume, complete run of Le DA COSTA Encyclopédique, published in Paris in 1947-48. It is a late Surrealist review associated with the Acéphale wing of Surrealism, a secret society formed by Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, André Masson, etc.
The first issue of this mock encyclopedia is confusingly labled Fascicle VII, Volume II and it begins mid-word ("-festations"), mid-sentence. Its contributors are anonymous. The two following issues have a different title, "Le memento universel Da Costa": these are in a smaller format and the articles are "signed." The review was edited by the Swiss sculptor Isabelle Waldberg (1911-1990) and the writer Robert Lebel (1901-1986). Lebel had met Marcel Duchamp in New York in 1936 and later published the first Duchamp catalogue raisonné. It seems Duchamp helped design the magazine, provided the article on "sens" and perhaps the "permit to live." He may also have suggested the title as he had met the Morgan Librarian, Belle Da Costa Greene, in New York.