La Malmaison in Cannes hosts a beautiful exhibition of the works of preeminent Dada and Surrealist artist Max Ernst, entitled “L’imagination en jeu”
Twice annually, La Malmaison celebrates an artist connected with the French Riviera, and after Picasso, Matisse, Cesar and Dali, it is the turn of Max Ernst to be the star of the summer with this current exhibition.
Born in Brühl, Germany, Ernst spent the last 12 years of his life in Seillans where one of his open-air sculptures, Le Génie de la Bastille (The Genius of the Bastille), can still be seen in the village.
Thanks to the loan of some 70 paintings, collages and sculptures from major museums such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and private collections such as Nice’s Chave Gallery, this fascinating exhibition provides the opportunity to discover (or rediscover) an artist whose wild and fanciful imagination was the driving force behind all the works he created. A leader of the Cologne Dada movement immediately after World War I, Ernst’s early works were already marked by his idea that the world was one big irrational place. The artist had indeed emerged deeply traumatized and highly critical of Western culture after being forced to join the German army during the armed conflict that ravaged Europe.
His first collages made in 1919 used and rearranged various materials including illustrated catalogs and 19th century prints which helped shape the world of dreams and fantasy he would be known for during his entire career.
After moving to Paris in the 1920s, Ernst embraced surrealism and became influenced both by philosophy and the writings of Sigmund Freud. He was the first artist to apply the Interpretation of Dreams by the Austrian psychologist which helped him tap into his deep psyche in order to reveal his personal drama and develop his creativity.
In 1937, however, his art was branded as “degenerate” by the Nazi and the artist was briefly interned in the “Camp des milles” before succeeding to emigrate to the US. There he became deeply fascinated with the Southwest Native American Navajo and met Peggy Guggenheim, who would eventually become his third wife.
Upon his return to France, the artist who was a provocateur with a strong sense of humour never ceased to experiment and more than 40 years after his death he remains known not only for his new and often bizarre techniques, but also for his fantastic titles. After completion, a picture would remain unnamed for several days until some chance word in conversation or some quite unrelated happening suggested a title.
The exhibition Max Ernst, L’imagination en jeu runs until 28th of October, 2018. Admission is €6.
Centre d’Art la Malmaison
47, boulevard de la Croisette
Tel: + 33 4 97 06 44 90
Lead image – see page for author [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl], via Wikimedia Commons – edited (cropped); Le Roi jouant avec la Reine, © Centre Pompidou © Adagp, Paris 2018 – Max Ernst Cannes
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