August 2, 2007

Artist's Landscape: the big picture and Max Ernst

Ok, back onto my path of though about Max Ernst and landscape. One of the most striking things about the documentary I watched concerned Ernst's changing physical landscape. First, a little history:


As I mentioned before, Ernst was in Europe throughout the World Wars. He was considered a highly respected artist apparently, and in fact was one of the only artists that Hitler agreed to meet with early in the war and hear his thoughts against the war. But even though Ernst was German and a respected artist, Hitler was of course a madman and under his regime, artists (especially those not engaging in his propaganda) were shunned or worse. And Ernst was a revolutionary artist, not making propaganda, and his art and Surrealism were despised by the Hitler regime. For this, Ernst was actually put into a concentration camp for many years because of his views and his art. Peggy Guggenheim from the USA, who was to later become his wife and is of Guggenheim Museum fame, helped him escape from Europe and brought him to the United States, where he spent most of the rest of his life.

So Ernst had been making landscape paintings for decades, created with the random techniques like Frottage, Decalcomania, and other surrealist techniques that produced imagery from randomness. I think these techniques reflected a landscape in his mind...one that did not exist in his experience in Europe, but one that was solely in his own mind's eye. When he came to the USA, he and Peggy travelled from NYC to California, and then started a road trip back to NY through the West. In Flagstaff Arizona, Ernst encountered the beauty of the desert mountain landscapes, and found himself standing in the very landscapes he painted from his mind for many years.

Wouldn't that be amazing, to be confronted face to face with something that you have been obsessed with and had been painting for a lifetime? To find yourself standing in a place that you thought only had existed in your mind? From what I understand, the power of this was so intense, Ernst ended up moving the to West, to the desert, and made his home there for his late years up to his death.

I wonder how the physical landscape effects the artist. Of course it probably really visibly effects painters who use landscape as a theme, but what about other artists that do not visually incorporate landscape in their work in literal terms. Chuck and I often dream of moving out West, to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. What would that do to our mind's eye? Would the landscape effect me? Would the colors of my surroundings find a place in my work? Since I seem to be more inspired by the minute landscape, would the details of the flora and fauna find a new place in my beads? Or would my inspiration remain planted in the landscape of my imagination?

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts! they are so fascinating!!!

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