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Founding Publication of the Ra Group – Etchings by Zykmund

Vzduch vody [L'Air de l'eau]. Edice Ra [Ra series], vol. 1.

[Rakovník]: self-published, 1937. Octavo (24.4 × 15.7 cm). Original pictorial wrappers on thick laid stock with a linocut print by Bohdan Lacina; [47] pp. Printed on laid paper. With three etchings by Václav Zykmund. Signed and inscribed by Zykmund to "dear friend" J. Podvalský in the year of publication, in Rakovník. Spine lightly rubbed; wrappers with very light foxing; else very good.

First publication by the Czech surrealist Skupina Ra (Ra Group). The group's roots go back to the 1930s, but given the Nazi occupants' view of surrealism as a "degenerate art", its members were unable to publish during World War II. Unsurprisingly, 1945 thus saw a burst of activity, leading to the official creation of the group, which also included Josef Istler, Miloš Kořeček, Bohdan Lacina, Vilém Reichmann, and Václav Tikal. During Husák's Normalization regime of the 1970s, many of the artists would once again run afoul of the official state aesthetics.

With three etchings by Václav Zykmund, a founding member of the group, as well as a linocut by Bohdan Lacina, who was also responsible for the overall design and typography. Translated by D. Šubert and Zykmund.

Published with an overall print run of 400 copies, this being one of 50 numbered and signed presentation copies featuring the original etchings by Zykmund, a frontis and two other plates.

As of September 2022, KVK and OCLC show three copies worldwide, of which only one, at the Smithsonian, is one of the 50 limited copies. A copy of the preferential print run is also held by the Breton museum; it was gifted to the writer by Zykmund himself.

The work was reprinted in: Michal Bauer, ed., Automatická madona: antologie Skupiny Ra (2012), p.76–95 (with wrapper and two etchings reproduced).

Book ID: 52099

Price: $2,750.00