The magical art of Max Ernst at the Palazzo Reale

Milan hosts the first exhibition dedicated to Max Ernst (1891-1976) in Italy. To see, 400 works of the German painter, sculptor and poet, naturalized American and French.

Over 400 works by Max Ernst are housed in the Palazzo Reale in Milan, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages, jewelry and illustrated books from museums, foundations and private collections in Italy and abroad. abroad, such as the GAM in Turin, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Ca’ Pesaro Museum in Venice, the Tate Gallery in London, the Center Pompidou in Paris, the Cantini Museum in Marseilles, the State Museums and the Arp Foundation in Berlin, the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, National Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

The immense breadth of themes and experimentation in Ernst’s work spans 70 years of 20th-century history, between Europe and the United States, constantly escaping definition. A great connoisseur and visionary interpreter of the history of art, philosophy, science and alchemy, Max Ernst is presented in this context as a humanist. Indeed, if André Chastel claimed to find in Ernst a sort of “reincarnation of these Rhenish authors of Boschian devilry”Marcel Duchamp traced “a complete inventory of the different eras of surrealism”.
Upon entering the exhibition halls, the public is immediately invited to admire a masterpiece which celebrates its centenary this year, “Oedipus Rex” (1922).

max ernst painting
Pietà o La rivoluzione la notte, 1923 – © Tate, London, 2022
© Max Ernst by SIAE 2022

The first two rooms accompany the first part of Ernst’s biography, his childhood and formative years in Germany (1891-1921), sources of memory and inspiration for the artist’s entire life; the Great War, fought in the first person and likened to a period of death; the resurrection, the return to life, the marriage and birth of his son Jimmy, the revolutionary advent of Dada and the invention of collage, his first exhibition in France and proto-surrealism. The second part of his biography, which concerns the years 1922-1940 lived in France, occupies the following two rooms.
Among the works of the first four rooms we find in particular “Crocifisso” (1914), “Fiat Modes Pereat Ars” (1919), “I Cormorani” (1920), “The Misfortunes of the Immortals” (1922), the fragments of the house of “Eaubonne” (1923), “The kiss” (1927), “A Night of Love” (1927), “Men will know nothing” (1927).

The exhibition continues chronologically by recounting the following years spent by Ernst in Paris and France, the affirmation of surrealism, the second marriage with Marie-Berte then the love with Leonora Carrington, the deep friendships, the travels and experiments, advent of the Second World War, prison as a “degenerate artist” wanted by the Nazis.

The exile in the United States, organized thanks to the support of his son Jimmy and especially of Peggy Guggenheim, whom the artist will marry briefly, introduces the section devoted to America (1941-1952).
Ernst’s return to Europe (1953-1976) is recounted in the “Memory and Wonder” section, which brings together works from different decades and illustrates how history and the return of the old become sources of inspiration and object. wonderful art. of Ernst. Among the works presented: “Pietà or The Revolution at Night” (1923), “The Antipapa (circa 1941), “The Home Angel” (1937), “Dream and Revolution” (1945-’46), ” Project for a monument to Leonardo da Vinci” (1957), “In the streets of Athens (1960), “Hölderlin, Poemi” (1961), “Romanticism” (1964), “Portrait of an ancestor” (1974).

The last room, entitled “Cosmos and cryptographies”, has its gaze turned towards the stars. In the years leading up to man’s landing on the moon, art and science actually dialogue in Ernst’s works, opening up unprecedented insights into the cosmos. Works, books and cinema introduce the artist’s extraordinary secret writings, these cryptographies that go beyond codified languages.
Among the works exhibited: “The world of the naïve” (1965), “The world of the confused. Absolute refusal to live like a tachiste” (1965), “Birth of a galaxy” (1969), “Maximiliana or the illegal exercise of astronomy” (1964).

1) La festa a Seillans, 1964 – Center Pompidou, Paris, National Museum of Modern Art / Center for Industrial Creation© 2022. RMN-Grand Palais / Photographer: Georges Meguerditchian © Max Ernst by SIAE 2022

2) L’angelo del focolare, 1937 Collezione privata, Svizzera Classicpaintings / Alamy Stock Photo © Max Ernst by SIAE 2022

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The magical art of Max Ernst at the Palazzo Reale

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