Thursday, December 09, 2010

When Jackson Met Max

The Bewildered Planet, Max Ernst 1941
In 1941, after being interned at first by the French as a German National living in France, then by the Gestapo for being a subversive personage in France, Max Ernst left Europe through Portugal by marrying Peggy Guggenheim. He already had to have left Germany after his work was labeled as degenerate art by the Nazis.  With the creative assistance of Marcel Duchamp, who came up with the scheme of transporting art out of France as "cheese", Ernst was able to take some of his work to America, where it was exhibited in Guggenheims Art Of This Century Gallery in Manhattan. The marriage to Guggenheim didn't last and their time together makes some interesting reading, no matter which point of view the story is told from. 
While in New York, though, they spent much time at Guggenheims house out on Long Island, in Amagansett, which became a sort of artist colony during the war. Ernst continued to paint and experiment with his unique variety of abstract surrealism. He employed the manipulation of paint and controlled random effects to create the framework to provoke his subconscious.
Young Man Intrigued By
The Flight Of A Non Euclidian Fly
mid 1940's
One of the techniques he invented during this time was egouttage or drippage...Max suspended a bucket with a hole in the bottom from a rope, put paint in the bucket and then sent it swinging as an erratic pendulum over the canvas surfaces he was preparing.
During this time, a young Jackson Pollack was visiting with his wife, the artist Lee Krasner. He befriended Ernst and was often a visitor to his studio. Pollack stated later that he was very much influenced by the subconscious techniques of Ernst and went on to make his personal variation his main technique.
Jackson Pollack, Number 1, 1948
Pollack of course stunned the art world and seriously confused the rest of the world with his huge abstract expressionist action drip paintings. The technique was as interesting, perhaps more exciting than the results.
Max divorced Peggy, moved to California and married the American Surrealist Painter, Dorthea Tanning and lived in New Mexico until the early 50's, producing some of the most visually stunning work of his life.
(click on the paintings to see them larger)

Max Ernst, The Eye Of Silence, 1943/45


mud_rake said...

Whoa! Does 'odd' capture the essence of the artistic talent of this painter?

microdot said...

Without being insulting, honestly, I think odd is a much too banal adjective to use when analyzing something that seems foreign or even alien in a creative context.
Is there an aspect that you can appreciate?
Do the images seem evocative?
So much art does not deal with the world as we comprehend it visually. So much art deals with the internal, the subconscious landscape which is all part of our individual and collective mythology.
Wer all have the ability to be "odd". For some it is a trap door to insanity, for others it is a escalator to freedom.