Gradhiva n°14


Carl Einstein and the primitivisms

November 2011

Both an intellectual and an activist, theoretician on the art of his time and of distant cultures, a novelist and a historian, Carl Einstein played a decisive role in the history of ideas in the 20th century, at the crossroads of ethnology, psycho-analysis and philosophy. This German intellectual who was one of the founders of Documents, spent several years of his life in France before engaging in the Spanish civil war. The issue dedicated to him by Gradhiva presents all the facets of this fascinating figure who incarnated the greatest ambitions and intellectual torments of his era, offering also several unpublished texts by the author on the art of the avant-gardes, ethnology and politics. Resolutely international and interdisciplinary, this issue of Gradhiva offers new views on the aesthetic constructions of Einstein, on his political ideas, on the Great War up the rise of the fascists, as well as on his literary experiences that are still today little known.

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Special issue: Carl Einstein and the primitivisms

Coordinated by Isabelle Kalinowski and Maria Stavrinaki

  • Introduction, by Isabelle Kalinowski and Maria Stavrinaki
  • À la recherche de l’Afrique dans Negerplastik de Carl Einstein, [Looking for Africa in Carl Einstein’s “Negerplastik”] by Z. S Strother
  • Apocalypse primitive. Une lecture politique de Negerplastik, [A political reading of “Negerplastik”], by Maria Stavrinaki
  • Art, agentivité et collectivité, [Art, Agency and Collectivity] by Charles W. Haxthausen
  • Les trois moments de Carl Einstein, [Carl Einstein’s Three Moments] by Isabelle Kalinowski
  • Microcosme et macrocosme, entre l’académie et l’avant-garde [Microcosm and Macrocosm, between the Academy and the Avant-garde].
  • Notes sur la correspondance éditoriale de Carl Einstein (Documents) et Fritz Saxl (bibliothèque Warburg), [Notes on the editorial correspondence between Carl Einstein (Documents) and Fritz Saxl (Warburg Library)] by Spyros Papapetros
  • Georges Braque et l’anthropologie de l’image onirique de Carl Einstein, [Georges Braque and Carl Einstein’s Anthropology of the Oneiric Image] by Joyce Cheng
  • Un ensevelissement sous les feuilles : Bebuquin II, l’autobiographie de Carl Einstein, [Bebuquin II, Carl Einstein’s Autobiography] by Devin Fore

Unpublished texts by Carl Einstein

Translated by Isabelle Kalinowski

  • Sur l’art primitif, 1919
  • La statuaire des mers du Sud, 1926, introduction by Philippe Peltier
  • Art exotique. Exposition à la galerie du Théâtre Pigalle à Paris, 1930
  • Le Cavalier bleu, 1931, introduction by Maria Stavrinaki
  • L’art des nomades d’Asie centrale. Sur l’exposition de la galerie de La Nouvelle Revue française, 1931
  • Exposition de statuettes de bronze antiques antérieures à notre ère (art hittite, étrusque, égyptien, grec), [Exhibition of antique bronze statuettes from before our era (Hittite, Etruscan, Egyptian and Greek art)], 1933
  • La colonne Durruti, 1936

Scientific column



  • 272 pages
  • 126 illustrations
  • ISBN : 978-2-35744-046-3
  • €20