"This volume adds another layer of interpretation and visual analysis to the mass of recent scholarship on surrealism during its heyday. . . . Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty." — W. S. Bradley, Choice
"Surrealism at Play is a major contribution to the study of surrealism: Laxton balances a close reading of artwork with theoretical analysis. Every art school and college that covers surrealism in its curriculum and every museum with surrealist works in its collection should acquire this work."
— Stephen Bury, ARLIS/NA Reviews
"This book, without doubt, will take its rightful place alongside the best works in art history and literary criticism. Very well written, extensively researched, and breaking new ground in the understanding of surrealism." — Robert Maddox-Harle, Leonardo Reviews
"Surrealism at Play passionately traces how a particular art movement envisioned and articulated its own transformative potential. . . . Laxton helps us understand the Surrealists’ insistence on irrationality not as a sport, but rather as an attempt to engage in the political debates of their time." — Ela Bittencourt, Hyperallergic
"Laxton’s project is a major accomplishment, matching extensive imagination with scholarly rigor." — Natalie Dupêcher, CAA Reviews
“This long-awaited and important book situates surrealism in relation to Walter Benjamin’s idea that, with the withering of aura, there is an expansion of room for play. Susan Laxton shows how surrealist activities unleashed the revolutionary power of playfulness on modernity’s overvaluation of rationality and utility. In doing so, they uncovered technology’s ludic potential. This approach casts new light on the work of Man Ray, Joan Miró, and Alberto Giacometti, among others, in ways that also illuminate the work of postwar artists.” — Margaret Iversen, author of Photography, Trace, and Trauma
“André Breton began the Manifesto of Surrealism by remembering childhood and play: ‘The woods are white or black, one will never sleep!’ Susan Laxton's Surrealism at Play recaptures the sense that surrealism should be approached as an activity, and one as open and as transgressive as this. Bucking the tendency to imprison Surrealism as purely an aesthetic affair, Laxton has produced the most compelling general account of the movement in a generation. Essential reading for all lovers of the avant-garde.” — George Baker, author of The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris