Dalí on de Kooning: ‘The Greatest Painter of America’

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De Kooning. (Photo by James Burke/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images) De Kooning in 1956. (Photo by James Burke/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

One half of John Ashbery’s two-volume Collected French Translations, which were published this month by FSG, comprises a variety of prose writings, which range from Mr. Ashbery’s interpretations of the Surrealist Michel Leiris on Raymond Roussel, the French poet Pierre Martory on Henry James and a complete English version of Pierre Reverdy’s masterful short story “Haunted House,” which includes the following line that is far too excellent to not quote: “Reader, as you read me, don’t you experience a fecund joy as you tell yourself that you are one of the rare beings who can still give yourself, with a modicum of pleasure, to that perilous exercise?” The prose volume and its poetry counterpart are both really quite beautiful (they include jacket designs by Mr. Ashbery himself) and are essential reading for anyone with a fondness for the…

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