Marcel Dzama: The Book of Ballet (La chose la plus incroyable dans le monde)

Text by Hans Christian Andersen. Interview with Marcel Dzama and Justin Peck by Lucas Zwirner

Marcel Dzama’s prolific output as a draftsman has, in recent years, expanded to include works in many different media—film, sculpture, dance, collage, and even a recent collaboration with artist Raymond Pettibon are all part of his current practice. His at times surreal, often frightening vision, translates beautifully to film and dance, where actors in complex costumes bring to life the worlds Dzama draws on paper.

Published on the occasion of his collaborative ballet with choreographer Justin Peck and musician Bryce Dessner at the New York City Ballet, The Book of Ballet documents the genesis of all aspects of the project. The gem-like booklet begins with “The Most Incredible Thing,” the Hans Christian Andersen story on which the ballet is based, and continues to present Dzama’s costume designs. The images not only show final design decisions, but also chart the changes in costumes as the project unfolded, and the ways in which Dzama’s conception of the characters in the ballet shifted over time. The book closes with a conversation between Dzama and Peck in which choreographer and artist discuss the nuances of their collaborative process, and the important role of renowned composer Dessner in bringing the project to life. Also included is a poster made specifically for this book by the artist.


Publisher: David Zwirner Books / New York City Ballet

Artists: Marcel Dzama

Contributors: Marcel Dzama, Justin Peck, Lucas Zwirner

Designer: Marcel Dzama, Matthew Polhamus

Printer: VeronaLibri, Verona, Italy

Publication Date: 2016

Binding: Softcover

Dimensions: 9 x 6 in (22.9 x 15.2 cm)

Pages: 48

Reproductions: 37 color

Special Features: Includes poster

ISBN: 9781941701270

Retail: $20 | £13 | €18

Status: Not Available

Marcel Dzama

The work of Marcel Dzama (b. 1974, Winnipeg) is characterized by an immediately recognizable visual language that draws from a diverse range of references and artistic influences, including Dada and Marcel Duchamp. While he has become known for his prolific drawings with their distinctive palette of muted colors, in recent years, the artist has expanded his practice to encompass sculpture, painting, film, and dioramas.

All Marcel Dzama books

Justin Peck

Justin Peck is a Soloist and the Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet. Peck grew up in San Diego, California, where he studied at California Ballet for two years. In 2003, he began training at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. He was named an apprentice in 2006, joined the NYCB corps de ballet in spring 2007, and was promoted to Soloist in February 2013. Peck choreographed six works for New York City Ballet in two years—In Creases (2012), Year of the Rabbit (2012), Paz de la Jolla (2013), Take-Offs and Landings (NYCB MOVES, 2013), Capricious Maneuvers (2013), and Everywhere We Go (2014)—and was named Resident Choreographer, the second in the Company’s history, in July 2014. During the 2014-2015 season, he has createdBelles-Lettres, which premiered at the 2014 Fall Gala, and ‘Rode,o: Four Dance Episodes, which premiered during the winter season.

Lucas Zwirner

Lucas Zwirner is Senior Director, Sales, and Vice President, Business Development, at David Zwirner. In addition to establishing the ekphrasis series, short texts on visual culture, and spearheading the award-winning podcast Dialogues, Lucas also helps lead select digital initiatives, including Platform, a standalone company founded in 2021. He is also a writer and translator, whose work has appeared in The Drift, The Paris Review, and An Elias Canetti Reader, edited by Joshua Cohen and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he studied comparative literature and philosophy.