at the National Gallery of Art
Les malheurs des immortels, 1922
National Gallery of Art Library, Washington
David K. E. Bruce Fund
Washington, DC–The mysterious, species-bending creatures invented by German surrealist Max Ernst (1891–1976) during the 1920s and 1930s will be highlighted in the focus exhibition Max Ernst: Illustrated Books, on view at the National Gallery of Art from March 2 through September 6, 2008, in the West Building, Ground Floor, Gallery G21. Drawn from the Gallery’s rare book collection, the 19 works include pages from Ernst’s collage novels La Femme 100 têtes (1929), Rêve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel (1930), and Une Semaine de bonté (1934).
Ernst’s works on display were made from separate images which he combined to form imaginative and ambiguous narratives. The prints run the gamut from supernatural and whimsical to sinister and dramatic. Many of Ernst’s collages reference childhood experiences and Freudian psychoanalysis and challenge the established rules of Western academic art.
The exhibition will also feature works in Histoire naturelle (1926) that were created by rubbing a pencil over different textures and surfaces in order to produce surprising plant and animal-like forms. Ernst was fond of this technique, called frottage. Some of Ernst’s collaborations with other writers and artists such as Jean Arp, Leonora Carrington, and Paul Éluard are also on view.