Max Ernst & The Surrealist Revolution

Posted filed underDocumentaries, Modernism, Politics, Surrealism, Videos.


Surrealist manifestos often used the term “revolution,” so why do the paintings contain hardly anything explicitly political? Presented by art historian David Batchelor, this program looks at the relationship between Surrealism’s stated political commitments and examples of Max Ernst’s works produced under its tenets. Batchelor, along with Professor Dawn Ades of the University of Essex and Dr. Sarah Wilson of the Courtauld Institute of Art, closely examine a number of canvases exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1991, including The Horde, Europe After the Rain, and Vision Induced by the Nocturnal Aspect of Port Saint-Denis. A 1961 BBC interview with Ernst rounds out this program. Produced by the Open University. (25 minutes)

Max Ernst & The Surrealist Revolution

The film examines the relationship between the revolutionary rhetoric of surrealist literature and the works of Max Ernst, which are not evidently about revolutionary subjects. The essential link lies in the process whereby Ernst and other surrealists arrived at their imagery: they used methods designed to enable the subconscious mind to express itself. Ernst developed the techniques of collage, grattage and frottage which relied on ‘random’ events, suggesting or establishing images. The surrealist revolution lies, it is argued, in this organised artistic expression of the subconscious – to use Ernst’s own words, heard in the programme, in ‘the synthesis of objective and subjective life’.

Part 2

Max Ernst on a New Form of Natural History

Max Ernst – Grandfather of Action Painting

Excerpt from- Max Ernst: Mein Vagabundieren – Meine Unruhe (1991), reveals that Max Ernst (1891-1976) demonstrated a technique of action painting to Motherwell, Pollock, and others, early 1940s New York.