Max Ernst: Natural History (1926)

November 16, 2018May 12, 2019

Max Ernst: Natural History (1926) is the title of the exhibition presented by the Fundación Juan March at the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español in Cuenca, focusing on a group of thirty-four collotypes made after drawings created by the artist for the series Histoire naturelle. These were published by Jeanne Bucher in Paris as a portfolio with an introduction written by Jean Arp.

Max  Ernst,  'les  éclairs  au-dessous  de  quatorze  ans'. Private Collection Max Ernst, les éclairs au-dessous de quatorze ans [teenage lightening]. Plate XXIV from the portfolio Histoire naturelle [Natural History], 1926. Private Collection

The German painter, graphic artist and sculptor Max Ernst (Brühl, 1891 – Paris, 1976) is considered a key exponent of Dada and Surrealism. Whilst, initially, his creativity was not immune to the influences of the contemporary trends of Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism, his insatiable quest for knowledge, together with his great versatility, led him to follow a path of continuous search and rupture, experimenting with a great variety of materials and techniques. During the course of his career, Ernst created considerable quantities of collages and frottages: he assembled disparate elements and introduced them into a new web of significance, managing to render on paper images suggesting hidden realities. The invention of the technique of frottage is attributed to Ernst and is said to have originated during the summer of 1925, when the artist began to rub a pencil over a sheet of paper placed over the wooden floor in a hotel room in Pornic, near Nantes.

The plates that comprise the portfolio Histoire naturelle on show – on loan from a private collection – are populated by enigmatic landscapes and forms that belong somewhere between the realms of the mineral, vegetative and animal, conjuring up a unique ensemble of visions, fantasies and dreams.

The exhibition is complemented by selected documents and accompanied by a publication that includes Jean Arp's text together with an essay by Georges Sebbag.

Later, the exhibition will travel to the Museu Fundación Juan March in Palma, where it will be on show from October, 2019 to January, 2020.