77 
being, reality. From right angles and squares we erected radiant temples to 
the deepest grief and the highest joy. Our works were intended to simplify, 
transform, beautify the world. But our art did not disturb the bourgeois in 
their overcrowded madhouses, where they continued to wallow in their origi 
nal oil paintings. At various periods in our lives Sophie Taeuber and I worked 
together: in Zurich from 1917 to 1919, in Strassburg from 1926 to 1928 with 
Theo van Doesburg then in 1939, the first year of the war, in Meudon — I illus 
trated several works from this period, in my book of poems, le siège de l’air, 
which appeared in 1946 — and finally in Grasse in 1941 where we collaborated 
with Sonya Delaunay and Alberto Magnelli. Today even more than in my 
youth I believe that a return to an essential order, to a harmony, is necessary 
to save the world from boundless confusion. 
I further developed the collage by arranging the pieces automatically, with 
out will. I called this process “according to the law of chance.” The “law 
of chance,” which embraces all laws and is unfathomable like the first cause 
from which all life arises, can only be experienced through complete devo 
tion to the unconscious. I maintained that anyone who followed this law was 
creating pure life. 
About 1930 the pictures torn by hand from paper came into being. Human 
work now seemed to me even less than piece-work. It seemed to me removed 
from life. Everything is approximate, less than approximate, for when more 
closely and sharply examined, the most perfect picture is a warty, threadbare 
approximation, a dry porridge, a dismal moon-crater landscape. What arro 
gance is concealed in perfection. Why struggle for precision, purity, when they 
can never be attained. The decay that begins immediately on completion of the 
work was now welcome to me. Dirty man with his dirty fingers points and 
daubs at a nuance in the picture. This spot is henceforth marked by sweat and 
grease. He breaks into wild enthusiasm and sprays the picture with spittle. A 
delicate paper collage or watercolor is lost. Dust and insects are also efficient in 
destruction. The light fades the colors. Sun and heat make blisters, disintegrate 
the paper, crack the paint, disintegrate the paint. The dampness creates 
mould. The work falls apart, dies. The dying of a picture no longer brought 
me to despair. I had made my pact with its passing, with its death, and now it 
was part of the picture for me. But death grew and ate up the picture and life. 
This dissolution must have been followed by the negation of all action. Form 
had become unform, the Finite the Infinite, the Individual the Whole. 
It was Sophie Taeuber who, through the example of her clear work and 
her clear life, showed me the right way, the way to beauty. In this world there 
is a fine balance between Above and Below, light and darkness, eternity and 
transitoriness. And so the circle closed, [illustrations 20-26]
	        

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