ARTIST MONOGRAPHS

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D.A.P./Tate

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Hardcover, 8.25 x 11 in. / 208 pgs / 100 color.

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Catalog: FALL 2011 p. 41   

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ISBN 9781935202684 TRADE
List Price: $50.00 CDN $60.00

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D.A.P./TATE

Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum

Text by Nicholas Tromans.

Featured image, reproduced from <a href="http://www.artbook.com/9781935202684.html">Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum</a>, is a detail from Dadd's painting <i>Contradiction: Oberon and Titania</i>, Oil on canvas, 1854–8.

The public appetite for Dadd's bewitching art has never been greater, and this long-overdue reassessment — published in association with the Tate, London, and featuring 100 color plates — provides a vivid account of one of the most fascinating artists of the Victorian era.

Interpretations of Dadd's art have been coloured by Romantic notions of creativity and madness, by enthusiasm for Outsider Art, and by the ideas of Michel Foucault and the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In the first full account of Dadd's life and career, the author examines Dadd's artistic legacy and uses his case to investigate the encounter between art and the treatment of mental illness in the nineteenth century. In the enclosed world of the asylum, Dadd's doctors were both his custodians and his patrons, while the legends of modern medicine became part of the larger mythological systems that informed the artist's work.

In the summer of 1842, Richard Dadd was the resident artist for an English expedition through Greece, Turkey and Egypt. Towards the trip's end, Dadd underwent a dramatic personality change, believing himself to be under the command of the god Osiris. Upon his return to England, he was diagnosed “of unsound mind” and was taken by his family to recuperate in Cobham, Kent. It was here, in August 1843, that Dadd murdered his father, before fleeing to France where he was eventually captured and committed to Bedlam psychiatric hospital in London. Over the next 40 years, Dadd made some of Victorian Britain's most mesmerizing paintings, such as his endlessly detailed masterpiece, “The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke” — a proto-psychedelic fairy drama whose fame in the 1960s and 70s prompted the rock band Queen to record a song about it, and which remains one of Tate Britain's most visited paintings. The tale of the rediscovery of Dadd's greatest watercolor, “The Artist's Halt in the Desert,” on The Antiques Roadshow in 1987 has also entered popular folklore. Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum is the first thorough monograph on this neglected Victorian virtuoso. Alongside its 100 color plates, critical essays overturn several myths about Dadd (revealing, for example, that his jailers were generous and often acted as his patrons rather than as his oppressors) and trace the critical reception of his now widely admired art.

Richard Dadd (1817-1886) was born in Chatham, Kent, and entered The Royal Academy at the age of 20. In 1842, Sir Thomas Phillips chose Dadd to accompany him as his draftsman on an expedition to the Middle East, during which the first signs of the artist's schizophrenia emerged. Following his murder of his father in 1843, Dadd was incarcerated in Bedlam hospital, later being moved to Broadmoor, where he died in 1886.


Featured image, reproduced from Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum, is a detail from Dadd's painting Contradiction: Oberon and Titania, Oil on canvas, 1854–8.

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

The Telegraph

Nicholas Shakespeare

The Artist and the Asylum is witty, economical, and ecompassing.
Tromans must be congratulated for his no-nonsense criticism and his brisk insights.

The Independent

Arifa Akbar

It is the first comprehensive, illustrated biography since the Tate Gallery's 1974 exhibition catalogue and it looks at the life of an artist who was painting surrealist imagery and alternative worlds, including dream figrues, fairy figures and demons.

The Times Literary Supplement

Robert Irwin

Tromans's readings of the paintings are subtle and astute, but what really distinguishes his book is the close attention paid to the relationship between the artist and his minders … Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum is a troubling feast for the eye.

The Times Literary Supplement

Robert Irwin

Tromans's readings of the paintings are subtle and astute, but what really distinguishes his book is the close attention paid to the relationship between the artist and his minders … Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum is a troubling feast for the eye.

Art & Antiques

John Dorfman

In this elegantly written and scholarly book, Tromans, a historian of 19th century British Art, avoids all stereotypes and very sensibly keeps his eye on the sociological and historical context.

Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum

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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/19/2011

Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum, in the Media

Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum, in the Media

Nicholas Tromans' new book on Victorian fairy painter and "criminal lunatic" Richard Dadd — "a troubling feast for the eye," according to The Times Literary Supplement — is receiving unusually strong and extensive reviews in the UK, where it was released in mid-summer by its European publisher, Tate. D.A.P. is pleased to have published this superbly illustrated and riveting volume for the American market, where the book has just recently released. Scroll down for a sampling of the UK press, or continue to the book's page on ARTBOOK.com.
continue to blog


FROM THE BOOK

“Tromans’s readings of the paintings are subtle and astute, but what really distinguishes his book is the close attention paid to the relationship between the artist and his minders … Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum is a troubling feast for the eye....”

The Times Literary Supplement, October 14, 2011.


"Dadd and his friends clung to one another so fiercely that they became known as 'the Clique,' although the only formalized activity they organized were evenings when they would gather to invent pictorial compositions from a set text…Forming gangs such as the Clique was one way to cope with the frightening open-endedness of the young artist's choices: what should they paint and how? Making a team decision is easier. The story goes that each member elected a particular type of subject matter to follow, and that 'Dadd proposed to devote himself purely to works of imagination.' As for style, the critical consensus around them was clearer in its guidance. The age of the heroic canvas--massive expanses of dark paint describing deeds of violence and magnanimity--was over."

Nicholas Tromans, excerpted from Fairytopia in Richard Dadd: The Artist and the Asylum.

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