The German artist Max Ernst who has been the subject of a number of posts here, was one of the key figures linking Dada to Surrealism. A founding member of Cologne Dada in 1919 Ernst titled himself Dadafex Maximus; Dadamax for short. Ernst experimented with photomontage during this period, the favoured medium of the Dadaists, before switching to collage and painting. Moving to Paris in 1922 he was a prime mover of the transitional period between the dissolution of Paris Dada and the start of Surrealism proper in 1924 with the publication of the First Surrealist Manifesto, known as the mouvement flou.
Above and below are works created in the Dada period, including The Elephant Celebes of 1921, a painting that combines the dreamlike composition of De Chirico with Dada collage techniques and thus anticipating the style so favoured by later Surrealists.
The shy, reclusive and self taught maker of shadow boxes and experimental films, Joseph Cornell , rarely left New York State, with the exception of a few college years in Andover, Mass, spending most of his life in a modest house in the beautifully named Utopia Parkway, Queens, caring for his mother and disabled brother. His artwork is filled with a yearning for the unobtainable ; birds with their freedom of flight, glamorous movie stars and ballerinas as the source of passionate, platonic romances and especially travel to the most luxurious and wondrous locations.
Hotels are a common feature of his shadow boxes, miniature visions of rest stops and trysting places for artistic, mythological and astrological archetypes as they travel through the starry Empyrean and the wastes of infinity.
Following the arcane gestures of your hands
That replicates and duplicates the movement
Of your swaying rolling hips against my pelvis
I stare long and hard into your glittering eyes
Focused on the middle distance chasing down
An ecstasy among the chimeras and paradoxes
The beauty of your distracted expression
Is a provocation, an exhalation of pure spirit
A command from above that I dare not refuse
For you alone can take me there to where I belong
Drenched with colour and drowning in sound
Overwhelmed by sensation and alive in love
A leading theoretician and proponent of the Czech avant-garde during the very active decades of the 1920’s and 30’s, Karel Teige was involved in Devětsil and was a co-founder of the Czech Surrealist Group along with Toyen, Jindřich Štyrský and Vítězslav Nezval.
Teige created over 300 collages in private during the last two decades of his life, frequently featuring elements of a female figure forming part of the landscape. Subject to a brutal smear campaign and constant vilification, Teige was hounded to an early death by the Stalinist controlled government in 1951. Even this didn’t satisfy the authorities who ransacked his house, destroyed suspect unpublished writings and continued to suppress his published writings for decades to come. These factors probably contributed to the suicides of both his wife and mistress shortly afterwards.
The collages only came to light after samizdat surrealist publications ended up in Germany during the 1960’s.
It’s that time of the night
Forever 3:33AM eternal
The hour when the wolf howls
At the big bitch in the sky
The untouchable mistress, unloving
Moon, mother of archaic memories
Baying for blood to nourish the brood
Of nocturnal predators, night creatures,
Witches familiars, demons spawn,
Furious hordes, insatiable cubi,
All the swarming hosts of darkness.
I think that….
We really need…
We got to have us some…
But we can’t get no….
We cackle and fizz:
For a split second
The view is expansive
We can see everything
Future past far
Wide near narrowing
Until it contracts to a vanishing
Still point that finally disappears
Into the oh-so sleazy
Right here-now nowhere
The forever 3:33AM eternal.
The clocks have stopped,
The rest of the world
Is no longer in motion;
Yet you slowly approach,
Rosy red glowing pale-bright
Translucent, tinged with the electric blue
Of raw sex, resonating with the sadness
Of a stone cold seductress
Towards my slouched figure:
You will make a heathen of me
Worshipping in the dead of night
Raised ravished razed by the mystery
Of your magic as I rip through
Your diaphanous veils one by one
All the while praying to you
That it remains
Forever 3:33AM eternal.