Max Ernst, "Une semaine de bonté" — the Original Collages

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drawing
Max ErnstSecond Visible Poem 1© Photo Peter Ertl. © ADAGP, Paris 2009
Friday
Element: La vue (Sight)
Example: L'intérieur de la vue (The Inside of Sight)
Three Visible Poems
"If three is greater than 6, draw a circle around the cross, and if water puts out fire, trace a bucket around the candle, passing above the knife, then put a cross on the ladder." Prof. O. Decroly and R. Buyse (Les tests mentaux [Mental tests]).

Here it is mainly emblematic images that follow the eventful scenes of the previous series. For some plates, Ernst returns to a method which he particularly used at the beginning of his career: "synthetic collage". These compositions are made up of heterogeneous elements placed on a sheet of white paper. To link them up, the artist fills the intermediate space with ink or pencil, creating, as a general rule, a scene evoking a broad landscape.

First Visible Poem
"And I object to the love
Of ready-made images
In place of images
To be made"
Paul Eluard (Comme deux gouttes d'eau [Like two drops of water])

Second Visible Poem
'Un homme et une femme absolument blancs.' (A man and a woman absolutely white). André Breton (Le Revolver aux cheveux blancs [The White-Haired Revolver]

drawing
Max ErnstLa clé des chants 1 [The Key of Songs 1]© Photo Peter Ertl. © ADAGP, Paris 2009
Saturday
Element: Inconnu (The Unknown)
Example: La clé des chants (The Key of Songs)
" …………
…………
…………
………… "
Pétrus Borel Was-ist-das [What-is-that]

In this last section, women in a trance leave their beds and bedrooms to fly away. All weight, characteristic of reality, is abolished. Through these arched figures, Max Ernst illustrates the surrealist fascination with hysteria, a liberating and inspiring illness: "Praise be […] to hysteria and to its procession of young, naked women gliding along the rooftops. The problem of woman is the most marvellous and disturbing problem in the entire world. "(André Breton. Manifestes du surréalisme [Manifestations of Surrealism], Paris, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1962).

Up until last year, the original collages of Une semaine de bonté, which Max Ernst kept throughout his life, had only been exhibited once in their entirety (minus five plates, probably judged to be too blasphemous). This was in March 1936 at the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno (National Museum of Modern Art) in Madrid, just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. This exhibition is therefore a wonderful opportunity to highlight one of the best kept secrets of the twentieth century, and one of the major works of Surrealist art in which Max Ernst expressed his desire to defy established categories and to abolish the boundaries between genres.

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