July 03, 2004

‘Misfortunes of the Immortals’ and ‘The Hundred-Headless Woman’

Une Semaine de Bonté (A Week of Kindness, 1934) is the best-known of Max Ernst’s ‘collage novels’, but was not the first. As early as 1922, Ernst had collaborated with the poet Paul Eluard to produce a small volume of texts illustrated by twenty-one collages, entitled Les Malheurs des Immortelles (‘Misfortunes of the Immortals’). The first two images below belong to this series.

Disparate elements are here brought together in a less complex and more acute form. The man-beast hybrid makes its appearence and transforms an idyllic interior into a demonic stage-set … The twin starting-points of Max Ernst’s expressive impulse are a search for appropriate avenues for working out in visual terms the private obsessions of his childhood, and also his understanding of the Freudian analysis of such obsessions. His relationship with an authoritarian father, the pressures of middle-class family life, are psychoanalytically interpreted … - U.M. Schneede.
'Mon Petit Mont Blanc' ('My Little White Mont Blanc'), collage by Max Ernst from his & Eluard's 'Les Malheurs des Immortelles', 1922.

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'Recontre de Deux Sourires' ('Meeting of Two Smiles'), collage by Max Ernst from his & Eluard's 'Les Malheurs des Immortelles', 1922.

Ernst’s first collage-novel proper was La Femme 100 Têtes (‘The Hundred-Headless Woman’), which comprised nearly 150 collages, and an accompanying text by Ernst himself. The work was published in Paris in 1929, indtroduced with a prefatory note by André Breton. The six images below are a selection of the collages from this work as reproduced in Edward Quinn’s 1977 monograph on Ernst, which was my source for all of the images and quotations in this entry.

'The unsuccessful Immaculate Conception', collage by Max Ernst from 'La Femme 100 Têtes', 1929.

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'The scenery changes three times (III)', collage by Max Ernst from 'La Femme 100 Têtes', 1929.
In contrast to the later Une Semaine de Bonté, La Femme 100 Têtes lacks thematic unity. Max Ernst likes to pounce on taboo subjects. Often the theme of a picture is the Immaculate Conception; on one occasion it is Extreme Unction; then St Nicholas walking on the waters like Christ (and steered by remote control), and finally God the Father involved in an underground railway accident. This anticlerical tendency […] finds expression in the sarcastic distortion of religious rites. Another frequent feature is the exposure of repressed middle-calss notions about sex… - U.M. Schneede.
'...and the third time unsuccessful', collage by Max Ernst from 'La Femme 100 Têtes', 1929.

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'Show me your suitcase, my dear', collage by Max Ernst from 'La Femme 100 Têtes', 1929.

The titles of the four images above are, respectively: The unsuccessful Immaculate Conception, The scenery changes three times (III), …and the third time unsuccessful and Show me your suitcase, my dear. The two images that follow bear the titles The Immaculate Conception and Winter visitors on La Grande Jatte.

'The Immaculate Conception', collage by Max Ernst from 'La Femme 100 Têtes', 1929.

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'Winter visitors on La Grande Jatte', collage by Max Ernst from 'La Femme 100 Têtes', 1929.

Click on the images to see enlarged versions of the same.

Posted by misteraitch at July 3, 2004 12:41 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Someone in DAYTON, Ohio is selling USED CARPETS to a SERBO-CROATIAN.

Posted by: Diana Mitchell on September 7, 2004 02:05 PM

I was reading your interpritations on the hundred headless woman and i was wondering what else you thought about the poem and max ernst.
thanks so much, sally hinson

Posted by: sally on February 28, 2005 05:41 AM
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