Titus, Edward W.
Edward W. Titus was a Polish-born American expatriate, collector, publisher and book dealer based in Paris after the end of World War I.
Born Arthur Ameisen, Titus immigrated to Pittsburg in 1891 and became an American citizen three years later. In 1904 or 1905, he moved again to Melbourne, Australia, and in response to anti-Semitic attitudes there, changed his name. Soon after meeting him, the American cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein hired Titus as her marketing and publicity manager, and he wrote magazine ad copy for her cosmetics business. Two years later, they relocated to London, married, and had their first son, Roy Valentine Titus. In 1912, after the birth of Horace Titus, they moved to Paris, where Rubinstein bankrolled Titus’ publishing endeavors in modernist literature. Titus built an extensive network of connections in European circles of modern art and literature. During the years of their partnership (1908–30), Rubinstein and Titus collected art together, purchasing works by Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Picasso, among others, from dealers and auction houses primarily in New York and Paris.
After spending the years of World War I in Connecticut, Titus again settled in Paris in 1918. He was the owner of the important Montparnasse rare bookstore At the Sign of the Black Manikin (opened in 1924) and founder of Black Manikin Press. Titus’s publications include the first widely available edition of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1929, which was released to much controversy; an edition of Baudelaire’s prose poems (1926), translated by the British occultist Aleister Crowley; and the autobiography of the model and muse Kiki de Montparnasse, Kiki’s Memoirs (1930), which featured an introduction by Ernest Hemingway and photographs by Man Ray. In 1929, Titus became editor of the small modernist magazine, This Quarter (founded in 1925 by Ethel Moorhead and Ernest Walsh), which he proclaimed had “no ‘platform’ [and] no ‘program.’” Notably, under his direction, This Quarter devoted an issue to Surrealism in 1932, guest edited by André Breton, which included the first publication of Marcel Duchamp’s notes about his monumental artwork The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915–23; Philadelphia Museum of Art).
Picasso’s watercolor and gouache Seated Man (1915–16; Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection) is among the works that Titus initially purchased for his own collection before passing it along, possibly as a gift, to Rubinstein in 1930—an artifact of their unique partnership, while it lasted. Rubinstein remarried, continued to expand her cosmetics empire, and became one of the twentieth century’s most important patrons of the arts and collectors of modern European and African art. Little is known of Titus’s activities after his press and bookshop closed in 1932.
For more information, see
Callaghan, Morley. That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and some Others. New York: Coward-McCann, 1963.
Fitoussi, Michèle. Helena Rubinstein: la Femme qui inventa la beauté. Paris: Grasset et Fasquelle, 2010.
Klein, Mason. Helena Rubinstein: Beauty is Power, New York: The Jewish Museum, 2014.
Scott, Patrick. “Black Manikin and Obelisk.” Paris Publishers of the 1920s. http://library.sc.edu/spcoll/amlit/paris/paris4.html (accessed September 23, 2016).
“This Quarter,” Index of Modernist Magazines. http://modernistmagazines.org/european/this-quarter/ (accessed September 23, 2016).
For archival material, see: Edward W. Titus Collection, 1928–32, Emory University, Atlanta; for more information, click here.