Key Aspects of Surrealism Inaugurated by Max Ernst

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Key Aspects of Surrealism Inaugurated by Max Ernst

Amrit Johal, 301102319
FPA 111: D109 (Anna-Marie)
Research Essay, Fall 2010

Max Ernst, an inventive artist and one of the pioneers of the Surrealist movement, was able to project the ideas of Surrealism to his audience in a very efficient manner. Surrealism is a discipline, which allows one to think like a child and create art that brings you to a dream-like state. Ernst was able to accomplish this by creating images one can only imagine seeing in a dream, such as his ‘Angel of Heart and Home’ series. As well as by piecing things together which would not typically be put together (collages), such as his Oedipus Rex. Ernst’s work, Oedipus Rex(1922) and L’ange du Foyer(1937), are crucial works of art for the Surrealist movement and inaugurated many of the important characteristics associated with Surrealist art. Surrealism

Surrealism is a cultural movement and artistic style that emerged in 1924 in the hands of André Breton. Surrealism style uses visual imagery from the subconscious mind to create art without the intention of logical comprehensibility. Breton defines Surrealism as a “psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express – verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner – the actual reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern" (Breton in Harrison, 2003, pg.452). It is meant to bring the viewer to a dream like state, where a sense of freedom can be achieved, as it would in childhood. Breton said that “the mind which plunges into Surrealism relives with glowing excitement the best part of its childhood…[it is] childhood where everything nevertheless conspires to bring about the effective, risk-free possession of oneself” (Breton in Harrison, 2003, pg. 452). He says that it is Surrealism that gives you a second chance to be like a child, it is another opportunity. Although Surrealism, in a sense, emerged from Dada, the two practices are different in many ways. Dada took an anti-art stance, avoiding repetition and therefore the creation of a style. Although it did not seek a common style, Surrealism, however, had none of the nihilism of the earlier movement but was concerned with a redefinition of painting, with transgression rather than proscription (Rewald & Spies, 2005, pg. 11). Crevel describes Surrealism beautifully as being “for the mind a truly magnificent and almost unhoped for victory, to possess [a] new liberty, [a] leaping of the imagination […] smashing the bars of reason’s cage, and bird that it is, obedient to the voice of the wind” (Crevel in Spalding, 1979, pg. 28). For Ernst, “the fundamental opposition between meditation and action coincides with the fundamental separation between the outer and inner worlds” (Ernst in Hofmann et al, 1973, pg. 23). It is here, Ernst believes, that the universal significance of Surrealism lies, and that no part in life is closed to it (Ernst in Hofmann et al, 1973, pg. 23). Ernst’s art showcased his fascination with Surrealism through his many great works of art including Oedipus Rex and L’ange du Foyer. Max Ernst

Max Ernst was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism. He was born in Brühl, Germany. In 1909, he enrolled in the University at Bonn to study philosophy but soon abandoned these courses to pursue his interest in art. In 1913 he met Guillaume Apollinaire and Robert Delaunay and traveled to the Montparnasse Quarter in Paris, France where a gathering of artists from around the globe was taking place. In 1919 he visited Paul Klee and created his first paintings, block prints and collages, and experimented with mixed media. During World War I he served in the German army and after the war, filled with new ideas, Max Ernst, Jean Arp and social activist Alfred Grunwald, formed the Cologne, Germany Dada group....
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