ePUB2 The Essential Max Ernst ePUB2

by Max Ernst

There's not a page of this book which is purely text, so I guess that's a clue that the words aren't supposed to be that important, but even so, the writing is so sloppy, dismissive and arrogantly stupid that it's remarkable anyone read it and considered it fit for publication - especially as the publisher, Thames and Hudson, and subject, Max Ernst (probably the best known Surrealist after Dali) are so esteemed.

I personally enjoy some Surrealist art because it's imaginative, vivid and amusingly absurd, and specifically because it has nothing to do with the existing world. Schneede, the writer of the text, clearly feels differently, and tries half-heartedly to connect Ernst's art to historical events whenever possible - even if it means, say, suggesting he prophesied the Holocaust in 1920.

Much of the commentary is bizarre and unelaborated:

The Elect of Evil, 1928

Most sombre variations on the bird theme are The Elect of Evil and Bonjour Satanas. Glorification has given place to the manifestation of evil desires. Iconographical references to Christian mythology are often present, according to Werner Hofmann: thus, in the emblamatic system of the Baroque period, the pelican stands for Christ. (p.91)

...stubbornly technocratic:

Do these pictures still bear any relationship to surrealism? Surrealism is more than an attitude of mind than a stylistic tendency. Surrealism is the sum of Breton's doctrine, Dali's paranoiac-critical method, Magritte's intellectual semantics, Miro's automatism and Max Ernst's combination of guided chance and imaginative power. Each of the Surrealist painters goes his own way. In the last analysis there is remarkably little to hold them together. (p.99)

...With interpretations which are frustratingly inconclusive, pointlessly sourced, or syntactically strained):

painted in 1935

John Russell has drawn attention to the fact that the Barbarians Marching Westwards call to mind 'the fantasies of Denos, in which idealized barbarians from the East would come marching in to save the western world from itself'. There is no denying that an element of discontent with civilisation, inspired by Surrealism, does have a part to play in these pictures, especially as the dogmatic Parisian leading lights of the movement did occasionally incline towards the idealization of anti-cultural impulses. Equally not to be denied is the fact that the Barbarians are conclusions drawn from political events, and thus point forward to the Nazi invasion of France. (p.134)

...Or speciously evidenced ("more or less current" here meaning "over 70 years old", just to pick one example from the small excerpt) or simply unimpressive:

The title of The Breakfast on the Grass is a borrowing from Manet; and Hunger Feast is taken from Rimbaud. Max Ernst likes [sic] to play around with more or less current concepts. On [sic] his own admission the titles only come in the final stages. As plays on words and ideas, that is, as independent entities, they exist alongside, or even run counter to, the visual work. There are direct references to Rembrandt (Polish Horsemen), Gericault (Raft of the Medusa), and the German Novelist Theodor Storm (Aquis Submersus); and paraphrases of Nietzsche (The Birth of Comedy), Baudelaire (The Elect of Evil) and Matisse (Lust For Life). So in the world of language, too, Max Ernst modifies found objects (p. 151)

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Book Title
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PublisherThames and Hudson
Pages count216
eBook formateBook, (torrent)En
File size1.4 Mb
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