Max Ernst Collages: The Invention of the Surrealist Universe

Werner Spies, Author ABRAMS $89.5 (540p) ISBN 978-0-8109-3251-7
Max Ernst's imagination, on the evidence of this exhaustive study, was more varied, more splendid, more daring and more prescient than even his admirers may realize. His surrealist collages, at once playful and menacing, humorous and disturbing, portray a universe where birds gobble fish, mannequins come to life and Eros denied may spring from the barrel of a gun. Ransacking picture postcards, newspapers, catalogues, botanical drawings, calligraphy models, engravings and scientific journals, Ernst brought hermetic images into fruitful association, rattling the gates to the unconscious mind. In his essay, a monumental feat of detective work, German art historian Spies uncovers source materials, discusses Ernst's collage techniques, reviews his collage-novels and tracks Dada antics from Cologne to Paris. Yet he does not explain the enigmatic power these images continue to exert. The superb illustrations include 50 embellished ``alphabet initials'' which Ernst, who died in 1976, made especially for the first German edition of this definitive work, now in its first American edition. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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