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MAX ERNST -- ILLUSTRATED SCREENPL

SCREENCAP GALLERY
directed by Peter Schamoni
Peter Schamoni-Film, Munchen 1991

MAX ERNST -- SCREENPLAY

directed by Peter Schamoni, Peter Schamoni-Film, Munchen 1991

Max Ernst, directed by Peter Schamoni -- Illustrated Screenplay & Screencap G

[transcribed from the movie by Tara Carreon, American Buddha Online Library Li
max ernst
Born 1891 BRUHL/BONN Died 1976 PARIS
film by de von peter schamoni
camera: ernst hirsch, peter rosenwanger, victor schamoni
music: igor stravinsky

MAX ERNST: My wanderings, my anxieties, my impatience, doubts, beliefs, hallucinations; my


contradictions; my refusal to submit to discipline, even my own; the sporadic visits of Loni, my
woman -- aAll this was not conducive to a favorable climate for quiet sitting w

Like my behavior, my work is not classically harmonious. Not even classically revolutionary.
contradictory, it isn't appreciated by the specialists of fine arts, of culture, behavior, logic and law
accomplices: poets, __, physicians, and some illiterates.

I was born with a very strong feeling of needs of freedom. Liberty. And that means also with v
revolt. Revolt and revolution are not the same thing. But when you have this really strong feel
revolt, this need of freedom, and you are born into a period where so many events invite you to g
over what is going on in the world, and be disgusted with it, it's absolutely natural that the w
revolutionary work.

NARRATOR: Max is called up. Field artillery. Four years. How can he cope with the stupidity?
nausea and horror? Crying, cursing, puking? An attempt to esconce himself in contemplation has
comes of it are a few postcard size watercolors: "The Spindle's Victory," "Battle of the Fish," "A
to the Valley in the Evening."

MAX ERNST: On the 1st of August, 1914, Max Ernst died. He was resurrected on the 11th of N
young man who wished to find the myth of his day.

NARRATOR: In 1972, at the age of 81, Max Ernst returns to the absurdity of the First World W
Soldier's Ballad," an early dada text by his friend, Ribemont-Dessaignes.

MAX ERNST: There are no more stars. The sky is all black. The drawing is all black. There ar
are all on the cap of the general. Why do you like this text? If it's violent and poetic at th

In 1919, we started the Dada movement in Cologne. The only reason for this was that a powerfu
lust for life had taken place among some angry young men, still dizzy from the most disgraceful
What else could we angry young men do in order to release our fury than to try to overthrow the

western civilization? Beginning with the cult of reason, logic, conventional language, religi
conventional beauty, conventional poetry; in short, conventional stupidity.

"Don't roll off your spool or your brick pigtail will break, or the breezes will pick the flames fr
black starfish will flow from your tubes and tear with his claw the first-born off the table." That
received from Art. Two days later Art was in Cologne, and we were able to resume our enjoy

I saw advertisements for models of all kinds: mathematical, geometric, anthropological, zoo
anatomical, mineralogical, paleontological, and so forth. These were elements of such a dive
absurdity of the collection confused the eye and mind, producing hallucinations, and lending the
and rapidly changing meanings. I suddenly felt my visionary faculties so intensified that I beg
emerged objects against a new background.

NARRATOR: One of Ernst's most faithful friends and supporters from the very beginning is th
Eluard who, as a French soldier, had faced his German counterpart across no-man's land in the
When, at the age of 26, Eluard visits Max Ernst in Cologne with his wife Gala, who later becam
friendship between the two men begins. Eluard's enthusiasm gets him to purchase Ernst's fir
surrealist canvases: "The Elephant Celebes," and "Oedipus Rex", which he says thrilled him
drumbeat. The pictures caused great waves among their circle of friends.

MAX ERNST: From that point on, I began to receive letters at regular intervals of a month, or tw
which always closed with the phrase, "Nobody's going to take our goosestep away from us." Thi
of suddenly making me see the light. I realized that I better get out of here, and fast. So I decided
else was there to go? I even had to use a false passport to get over there. Eluard had lent me hi
which I was able to cross the border without any trouble. And when I got to Paris, he was ther
where a man was free to do anything he pleased.

I lived in Paris for four years on my false passport, and the police let me alone all that time. Th
climate there was very, very different from that in Cologne. Naturally, the general public were a
Dadaists did. The general public was opposed to anything that diverged from conventional art,
that had to do with collage. The collage technique amounted to a criminal offense. That is, it d
What is the technique of collage? I attempted to see in collage an exploitation of the chance m
provoked meeting, of two or more distant realities on an unfamiliar plane. And the flash of poe
their mutual approach.

NARRATOR: During his first Paris sojourn, Max Ernst is the frequent guest of Paul and Gala E
suburban Eaubonne. One day he begins to adorn the walls of Eluard's house -- where the surre
their truth-seeking spiritualist seances -- with strange, dream-like figures. Eluard's daughter, Ce
after an interval of 50 years.

CECILE ELUARD: I was seven or eight years old at the time. My mother always used to tell m
the garden. I hated the garden, you know. I hated the whole place. That house in Eaubonne wa
Outside, the house was quite normal looking, but inside the walls, even the doors, were painted
Those pictures really frightened me at the time. My father sold the house in 1932, after my mot

Salvador Dali. When I visited the house almost 50 years later, the Max Ernst murals were forgo
paint and wallpaper for many years.

NARRATOR: In a revolutionary attack on the traditional aesthetic of European painting, Ernst cr


once described as the final logical consequence, for the time being, of the collage technique:
Threatened By a Nightingale," a cross between a toyshop and a sultry surrealist

MAX ERNST: I should add something at this point: All of my life I have suffered from what you
complex when faced with a white canvas. When I stand in front of a white canvas to begin s
something, I simply found it impossible to put down the first mark. I had to find some way of o
did.

The 10th of August, 1925 -- a rainy day in a seaside inn -- found me gazing at the floorboards o
became excited, then obsessed with the sight of the boards. There were a thousand rubbings set d
decided then to investigate the meaning of this obsession. And to help my meditative and hallucin
a series of drawings based on both sheets of paper, which I worked with black lead. I gazed a
surprisingly, an hallucinatory succession of contradictory images arose before my eyes, superimp
upon the other. I began to experiment at random with all sorts of materials. Whatever met my
composed more and more the character of the material investigated. A series of suggestions and
from ___. One no longer saw wood, for example, but images of an unhoped-for precision. A new
was born.

This is a forest. Almost everything I make automatically comes out of a forest. But that is not
frottage. That takes us much, much further. Natural history. This natural history in my view was
communing with nature open to us nowadays. That is, in the 20th century. Of course, it was an
had been prefigured by the entire German romantic movement. By Novalis, Joachim Von Arnim
forth. They had a feeling for nature that far transcended anything that had gone before under that
imagination, the force of the imagination, played a great role.

What is a forest? Mixed feelings for the first time I enter the forest. Delight and consternation, a
artists called "the nature feeling." A wonderful sense of breathing free in the great outdoors. And
the oppressive sense of being ringed in, surrounded by hostile trees, of being simultaneously ou
imprisoned. Who can solve the riddle?

Forests swallow the horizon. They take over the sun, leaving sometimes nothing but an ___ with
beginning of a new series of images and subjects that entered my art.

One of those subjects was the theme of birds. The bird theme had been somewhere in the back o
childhood, really. And especially after an event which then affected me very deeply. It

As a little boy, I had a parrot which I loved very much, and which loved me very much. Whenev
from me, he would always hop onto my shoulder and nibble at my ear, telling me quite clearly w
One morning, I found this parrot dead in his cage. That very moment, my father came in and tol
sister just born. Well, back then, my brain was still so muddled, that I quite naturally associated

the impression this experience left on me has really never entirely disappeared. Naturally, I kne
sister was not to blame for the death of my parrot, but it brought something to the surface of my m
would have come to the surface in any other way. Namely, a certain confusion of things and cre
actually have very little in common, but which, thanks to certain poetic associations, returned ag
rate, in my little brain. In my bird brain. And I began to develop this theme of birds at the time.
at a result in a picture called "Monument to the Birds."

NARRATOR: In 1927, Max Ernst marries Marie-Berthe Aurenche, who, as an illegitimate desc
was raised in the belief that one day she would wear the French crown. Max Ernst's surrealist fr
at the chance to celebrate him as the crown prince, heir to the throne of Franc

Occasionally, he appears in one of his friends' experimental films. In 1929, Luis Bunuel, the S
Max to play a part in a film that would soon cause a scandal, and become a milestone of surreali
Golden Age.

MAX ERNST: I see barbarians looking westward. Barbarians leaving the forest. Barbarians wal
have been asleep too long in the forests.

There was that first ominous event in 1933 when the world famous ex-painter, Mr. Adolph Hitle
Germany.

I recall that in 1934, I participated in a meeting of artists in Zurich. We had come to debate the
could still simply make art at this point, or whether they should put themselves in the servic
I see ravenous gardens, themselves ___ by vegetation going out of wrecked planes. I saw

These works reverberate with the illogical and irrational qualities that are generally ascribed to d
are fully aware that they represent the essential spirit of reality. I saw with my eyes the colors a
receding. And I felt a calm and ferocious joy.

The Spanish Civil War. It came as such a shock. I didn't doubt for a moment that it meant that a
imminent. At the time, I had an exhibition in Madrid of my collages to "Une Semaine de Bo
Kindness"). Then, of course, I thought the things were lost. But, as a matter of fact, they actua
them during the bombardment of Madrid. It was incredible that they actually had time to do th
falling on Madrid.

Almost the only picture I produced after the defeat of the republicans in Spain was "Fireside Ang
a very ironic title for a sort of ungainly beast that simply smashes and destroys everything that ge
the impression I had at the time of the way world events were going, and I was right

Look what is going on in the world right now, in the last years anyhow. Who made world his
reasonable people. The madmen did. So if painting is the mirror of a time, it must be mad to hav
what the time is.

NARRATOR: At the notorious Exhibition of Degenerate Art held in Munich in 1937, the Nazis
1923 painting, "The Creation of Eve," or La Belle Jardinie're, "The Beautiful Gardener," under
German Womanhood." The painting has since disappeared without a trace

MAX ERNST: To one madness we oppose another madness. But we do not pretend that this mad
other madness can heal these people, and keep them from doing what they are doing. An artist is
makes a statement.

NARRATOR: The last large group exhibition of surrealism before the Second World War takes p
at the Paris Gallery. It was Marcel Duchamp's idea to hold the show under black-out conditions.
draped with old coal sacks, and it was so dark that visitors had to equip themselves with electric
to see anything at all. The darkness was punctuated by jungle sounds and baboons' cries from
player. The floor was covered with rotting leaves. Breton and Eluard, who had been jointly
organization, fell out with each other after the show. Max Ernst took his friend Eluard's side,
expelled from the surrealist group.

After a show of his work in London, Max Ernst returns to Paris with a new companion, Leonor
English painter. When his separation from the surrealist coterie around Andre Breton becomes o
move south to St. Martin, a village near Avignon in the Ardeche Valley. Max finds an old aband
hill which is reasonably priced, but in such bad condition that it takes him over a year to make
finishing the necessary repairs, he decides to enliven the facade with cement reliefs. Their neigh
by this odd artist couple, and the eerie creatures on the wall of their house.

MAX ERNST: The picture I was just able to finish in 1939 was called, "A Moment of Calm."
inhabited by birds and animals of every conceivable kind. In this picture, the threat facing the w
very, very clearly present. "A Moment of Calm." The accent lay on "Moment," because in fac
moments left in which to make new decisions. Calm -- peace -- was a thing of th

NARRATOR: At the outbreak of the Second World War, Max Ernst is interned in France as a c
empire, initially in a prison at Largentiere, then at Les Milles, in a former brick f

MAX ERNST: The Comandante gave me permission to leave the grounds on condition that I wa
of the camp as a souvenir. My girlfriend rushed off to get some tubes of paint and canvases. W
came to see what I had done, I showed him a picture I had done some time ago. "You have no
like this!"

NARRATOR: To obtain his friend's release, Paul Eluard sends a petition to the French Pre

"Mr. President, in view of the fact that you have always admired and furthered art and artists,
approaching you personally. An artist who deserved the highest possible esteem, Max Ernst, h
Southern France since the beginning of the war. He is 50 years old. He's a simple, honest man, a
was the first German painter to exhibit in a French salon here, in a little house in St. Martin d'Ar
and decorated himself. He should be allowed to return there. I appeal your good

MAX ERNST: At Christmas I was released. I spent some time in St. Martin d'Ardeche and sta
Leonora was there, too. Everything was going just fine until they decided to stick me in anothe
suddenly become a suspicious person on account of the deaf and dumb fellow who reported me
light signals to the enemy.

When the Nazis had gotten as far as ___, there was an imminent danger of simply being stood u
shot. Thus it came about that I had to spend a few months in a concentration camp as an enemy
second homeland of France. After my release, I continued to go west. Westward at all costs. Beca
anything new to be found.

NARRATOR: Peggy Guggenheim, the American heiress and art collector, recalls in her memoirs
Addict":

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: Victor Brown and I drove to the Villa Bel Air in Marseilles where Va
with the people of the Emergency Rescue Committee. It was a meeting point for anti-fascist arti
planned to escape to America in view of the approaching Nazi troops. Max, after all of his exper
camps, certainly appeared much older. The Museum of Modern Art tried to bring Max to Am
documents nor money arrived, and the situation got more and more desperate fo

Max had displayed some of his works in the open air, on the trees, for auctioning. I think that h
was so much more excited about the old ones, and tried to buy them all, instead of the new ones,
yet like. We soon came to some agreement, in which I was to give him $2,000 minus the money
return for which I was to get innumerable paintings.

When I began my affair with Max Ernst, it was not serious, but soon I discovered that I was

On our arrival in New York, the Press seized upon us. Just as Max was about to greet his son Jim
America for four years, he was whisked away by officials. This made a marvelous photograph
appeared in all of the papers. Poor Max still had his German passport, and it seems the immigrat
accept the responsibility of admitting a German into the United States without a hearing. I was a
fearing he would be sent back to Europe. I offered bail, but to no avail.

He was kept on Ellis Island for three days. Luckily, Jimmy turned up on the island on the third d
the Museum of Modern Art with letters of recommendation, and I knew Max was saved when J
witness. Max was finally free.

NARRATOR: Jimmy describes the period after Max's release from detention in his autobiogra
Life."

JIMMY ERNST: When Leonora Carrington arrived in New York by boat, with a large body of M
Peggy's insecurity came to a head. She persuaded my father and myself, together with her 16-yea
to move to the West coast of California. After a violently uncomfortable flight across the entire A
landed in San Francisco. We stayed in the best hotels. Peggy bought the latest luxury convertibl

I coached Max for hours from a driver's manual for his test. After having passed, he wanted t

For weeks, we went on almost daily expeditions along the coast in search of an Ernst-Guggenheim
Charles Lawton's residence on Pacific Palisades was up for sale. An entire canyon opening up
contained an unfinished 60 room castle begun by a now-deceased silent movie queen was offe
dollars. A counter-offer by Peggy of about half that sum was unsuccessful.

We also considered a bowling alley, a couple of fake adobe churches, and the original home of R
vast garage looked like a possibility for the collection.

Peggy sent me on an errand to downtown Los Angeles to investigate California's marriage pro
decided that California was not ready to house her museum. Max rolled up his eyes with relief a
transcontinental return trip to New York.

On a late afternoon, we got out of the car to watch a rattlesnake crossing the road outside Flag
blanched visibly. He was staring at the same fantastic landscape that he had repeatedly painted in
very long ago, without knowing of its actual existence. That one look was to change the future

At a trading post in Grand Canyon, we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of ancient Hopi and
Much to Peggy's annoyance, Max bought just about every one of the kachinas, for $5 each. $
dolls.

We then drove via Gallup and Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Max insisted on visiting an Indian res
Hopi dances, as this was his main reason for driving to the American West. But Peggy, much to
want to put up with the strains of a detour of several hundred miles.

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: In New York, I started to look for a place for my museum. Finally, w
house on Beekman Place overlooking the river. We thought it would be ideal for the museum, ex
away from the center of town. But we couldn't resist it. However, we were not allowed to ope
section. We had to take the house for ourselves, to live in instead. It was the most beautiful h

As Max sold more and more paintings, he bought more and more Indian, pre-Columbian, Alaskan
We practically had no furniture. And all of these things made the house look very c

People were always coming up to him and treating him with reverence and respect like a great
adulation very well.

Max bought an enormous chair, about 10 feet high. He sat in it as though it were his throne. A
dared use it, except my daughter Peggin.

After Pearl Harbor, the question of marriage came up again. I did not like the idea of living in si
and I insisted that we legalize our situation.

Soon after our wedding, we gave a big party in our house on Beekman Place. Leonora Carringto
charming. For once she dressed attractively. Max showed some of his new paintings. One

"Napoleon in the Wilderness." The backgrounds of these paintings greatly resembled the desert l
swamps of Louisiana.

NARRATOR: "The Eye of Silence." "Totem and Taboo." "Europe After the R

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: He painted Leonora's portrait over and over, in all of the landscapes.
never painted me. In fact, it was a cause of great unhappiness to me, and proof that he did n

JIMMY ERNST: On all social occasions, including the meals in the luxurious penthouse, the
brought visitors to show them his paintings, or "The Collection." The visitors were usually yo
female.

On one occasion, the poet William Saroyan and the queen of striptease, Gypsy Rose Lee, drop
afternoon. He soon took her to the top floor, and started to paint her portrai

Some time later, Peggy wanted to send an invoice to Gypsy Rose Lee, and I had to explain to h
given her the painting. I don't know if she paid him for it in that way.

MAX ERNST: So I had to start again from scratch. Although I did find my old friends there, and
there were also young, promising artists, like Motherwell, Baziotes, Pollock and others. I even h
the time to give one of these artists a little lesson. I was showing him how pictures could be prod
way.

All you had to do was fill a pot with paint, a tin can, and then punch a hole in the bottom, and sus
string, or rather, three strings, and let it swing back and forth over the canvas, and watch as it c
really astonishing kind.

This was more than just a whim of mine. It reflected a certain idea I had about the nature of d

I knew that in Japan, for instance, the students in the art schools were initially taught to draw wi
hand. Nothing else. And draw everything from the wrist. Then came the elbow, and then they
hand. Later they learned to combine elbow and shoulder. As far as I know, the Japanese never w
But what I showed this artist back then did go beyond it, because it involved the whole body,
pleased, moving freely, and giving free rein to the emotions. One might even say -- I think I h
that this lesson I gave to that young artist was the source of a certain style in art which now goes
painting."

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: At the time I was preparing my big exhibition, "Art of the Century,"
famous fashion designer, came to ask me to help her arrange a spectacular surrealist show. I se
the help of Max and Marcel Duchamp, Breton organized a big exhibition. Max designed the pos
cover the ceiling with strings, and he criss-crossed the entire length of the room. The general eff
The main painting was by Max, called "Surrealism and Painting."

At the opening, I made a scene, because the pictures I had lent did not have my name on them, an

was acknowledged.

NARRATOR: After a long search, Peggy finally found a place for her collection, on the top flo
Street. Andre Breton, and Howard Putzel had persuaded Peggy that Frederick Keisler was the i
physical setting for her gallery museum. His plans for the project were indeed brea

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: Until two days before the opening, not even Max was admitted. At
having all of the frames removed from his paintings, but when he saw how well all the others loo
be different.

The Surrealist Gallery had curved walls made of gumwood. The unframed paintings, mounted o
could be tilted at any angle, protruded about two feet from the walls. Each one had its own spot
on and off every three seconds to everybody's dismay, first lighting one half of the gallery, a

The publicity we got was overwhelming, and photographs appeared in all the papers. Fourteen o
collages were on exhibition, more than those of any other painter. Naturally, as I own
At the opening, Max looked very happy.

JIMMY ERNST: An unforgettable event was a photo session in 1942. "New York Artists in Ex
way past dinner. The result was a much-published assembly of 20th century masters, not unlike
graduation photograph.

The atmosphere was explosive. The faces were sombre and self-important with the exception of
Max Ernst, up front and center, which wears a distinct smirk, as if in secret judgment on the

On his right, Tanguy, on his left Chagall and Leger. Then Matta, Breton, Zadkine, Masson, Oz
Lipchitz, Seligmann, Berman, and Mondrian. Marcel Duchamp was present as a mere observer b
being an artist and now only play chess." He whispered to me what they might have though

'Leger a proletarian? He's nothing but a petty bourgeois horsemeat butcher. Chagall would cover
cerulean blue paint if he could sell her for dollars.' Unfortunately, I was not so familiar with the o
but I was rather disturbed watching these eminent artists behave like Hollywood s

NARRATOR: In 1946, a Hollywood movie company invited famous American and European ar
competition on the subject of the temptation of St. Anthony. Max Ernst describes his en

MAX ERNST: Shrieking for help and light across the stagnant water of his dark, sick soul, St. A
answer the echo of his fear. The laughter of the monsters created by his visio

NARRATOR: The jury, which comprised Marcel Duchamp, Sidney Janis, and Alfred Barr, the d
of Modern Art, justified the award of first prize to Max Ernst as follows:

"The Ernst painting presents a St. Anthony in the throes of extreme subjective torment. Horned a

between the most revolting distorted features of animal, bird, reptile and human form, preys upo
perverse, and gleeful greed.

Only after the hypnotic spell of horror is somewhat shaken off, does one notice, in the middle gr
of the theme of sacred and profane love. In the lush center, the figure of an earthly temptress. A
the figure of woman exalted.

In the opinion of the confirmed surrealist, this painting is nevertheless in the great tradition of Ge
as a fairly contemporary version."

MAX ERNST: Then I met a young woman in America, or rather in New York, the painter Dorot
soon she became my wife.

DOROTHEA TANNING: It was around Christmas in 1942, when Max rang my doorbell. He wa
the Peggy Guggenheim gallery, for a show to be called "Thirty Women." On an easel was my s
finished. He looked, while I tried not to. At last, "What do you call it?" I really haven't a title.
'Birthday.'" Just like that. He had come to stay. That we were both painters, visionaries, did not s
anything but the happiest of coincidences. It was so unbelievable, I told myself, "Yes. If it only
still alright."

Why do artists remain in cities? Must they chum with collectors, attend openings, witness name-d
and west-side pastures in order to make good pictures? Good objects? Good anything? No. We d
1946, Max and I embarked for the second time on a long trip. This time we take everything: Ca
and the totem pole, the kachina dolls, the pictures. We want to return to Sedona, Arizona, wher
summer. But this landscape is not one to be forgotten after one summer. This time we want to st

MAX ERNST: So we decided to move to a part of the country which I had already seen during th
-- Arizona. There I found the old, familiar landscape that had continually been in my mind's
repeatedly appeared in my paintings, too.

Now I don't pretend that this was a result of some cheap, prophetic gift of mine. It was sheer acc
was there, and that my pictures were there, and had emerged at a point in time before I had eve
You might call it the result of objective chance, which is how Breton explained it at

We had a wonderful life there. It was absolutely marvelous. Words fail me when I try and descri
wonderful, the people we met there were so different from the sophisticated people in New York
Cowboy or artist? People like myself who had gone there to get away from it

DOROTHEA TANNING: Sedona is the other way. And these are incomparable years. We cook
On wood fires. We build the house of wood, for there is no water. At the lumber company, Max
the warped and knotty 2 x 4's green lumber of wartime. We played house.

In the end we had a house with windows that opened and closed, where finally he could sit in th
open a beloved book and read as if nothing had happened. As if nothing had been squandered. N

had simply bridged time and space.

We chase away the animals from our five tomato plants. We stand our ground in sudden confron
centipedes, tarantulas, black widows, and in the broom closet, a snake.

When electricity finally blooms, we are exultant. Our phonograph plays Stravinsky on 7

Nature was not always open-armed. There might be a week of red wind tearing at our woode
inside. Then there were days when there were no sounds in the afternoon save the hum of the hea
lurking, so aged, that we, the intruders, felt also quiet, intense, and strangely tiptoe, as

Down in the valley, the gushing waters of Oak Creek provided refreshment. To the native Ind

4:30 or 5:00 saw the sun dip behind our hill, and in half an hour the temperature dropped 20 de
drawn into burned lungs produced somersaults of energy.

We pounded. Wrestled. Scraped. Dragged. Swabbed. Making art is not a silent affair. An abiding
Max, hammer in hand, crating pictures. It is a fragile thing, the painted canvas. How securely
fastened, nothing touching its skin. A helpless baby born of mind and gestur

Between Sedona, Arizona and New York City lies most of the U.S.A. 2,500 miles were spun out
Ford, eight times in twelve years. Each time a two-wheel trailer carried a load of pictures unde
Because the beautiful, hapless pictures often went both ways. Going and returning. Only m

It was a great day when water was brought from under the hill. Now we only had to turn a spigo
could begin a monument to our Capricorn hill. A king and queen in cement and scrap iron. Re
house. What else could he call it but "Capricorn"?

Now that we had electricity and water, our little two-roomed house underwent a metamorphosis
from brown boards with its tarboard roof was transformed by Max's own hands, stone by stone
studio.
Max had always wanted to see the mysterious ritual Hopi dances which took place at irregular
mountains, the first, second, or third mesa.

MAX ERNST: At the foot of the mesa, the first thing we saw was a church. The priest was ju
church, and he was obviously in a huff, because only one other member of the tribe who had bee
to his service had actually appeared. The priest beat a rapid retreat.

So then we asked the Indians whether they were Christians. "Zuni live over there. They are Chris
masks on. We're Catholics. We dance without masks."

DOROTHEA TANNING: About 150 miles north of Sedona, the earth splits open to form the en
Grand Canyon.

MAX ERNST: I had a very strong impression of the American landscape, of the incredible bea
landscape, and of the incredible diversity of the landscapes there.

DOROTHEA TANNING: Shortly after crossing from Arizona into Utah, we experienced the g
Bryce Canyon. Max only ever made one attempt to depict this unforgettable experience. You wo
ends here. You would think that nothing would come after those velvet nights and days in a land
we said, "If Richard Wagner had seen this, his music would be even louder than it is

Precious as diamonds is the memory of a 9-day river passage through the Colorado river rapids.
all right there, along with a phantom presence of Indians eyeing us from up there on their rim, o
cranny, uneasily. Because it was theirs. And even at this late date, we were intru

Arriving at Lees Ferry two days late -- we had played at movie making in a hidden canyon -- we
by the locals. And our movie footage was nicely integrated back in New York in Hans Richter's
8."

"The King said, 'lady, now what game will you play?' Then said she, 'The usual game. To be na
then the King began to study his first moves."

WILLIAM NELSON COPLEY: We drove 500 miles nonstop across California to Max Ernst
Canyon of Arizona. We wanted to win him over to take part in an exhibition in our newly open
Beverly Hills. Next to Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst was the most exciting name we knew. D
announcing our arrival, however, got badly garbled at the Sedona Country Store, which was the
outside world. Max had been expecting Duchamp himself. It showed in his face as we clim
Nevertheless, we were invited in with what almost seemed like enthusiasm

Like Man Ray, Max Ernst was in his own way another exile hermit. His paintings weren't m
neighbors were cowboys. The nearest old friend was Man Ray, far away in Los Angeles. The la
together, they had gotten civilly and doubly married. All described it as pretty much of a lark. O
off from his peers.

We stayed several days, eating, drinking, and vying with each other to make the most outlandis
won, but he had two other languages to work puns on. It was his court, and we were

There was no trouble about a show. We escorted Max from Sedona in his Ford and trailer full o
had been around for a long time, and conked out every hour or so. Max would get out and frown
always start up again under his gaze. He grew flowers this way, too.

Our show was the first retrospective that Max ever held. It was composed of over 300 pieces. W
we could: Germany, France, England. It never occurred to us that anyone would refuse, and oddl
"Wrenish Night." We had "The Triumph of Love." ___ lent nearly all the paintings he had. __
lent. Walter Arensberg lent. Roland Penrose in London lent everything he had. Marie ___, the b
her two great bird monuments.

An exhibition within the exhibition, a sort of register aria of the artist, was the large format paint
Flute of Angels.

NARRATOR: A Noah's Ark built of compartments, a container into which at the time Max Erns
consisted of a good part of his world and his philosophy. All of the artist's themes and subjects
well as all the techniques and moods that characterize his ouevre. In the interstices, there appear
the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. And counting all of the dividing lines which are
one arrives at a total of 52 compartments. And Max Ernst was indeed 52 years old at the time. h
a tiny cabin which was located -- as he once said -- on the cheapest lot he could find in Se

What is striking about the painting is an alternation of rhythms which creates equilibrium. An alt
images with long, large images, which have the effect of ______. And this musical element i
alternating rhythm, was first discovered by a composer. Stravinsky.

WILLIAM NELSON COPLEY: Igor Stravinksy saw the picture at our exhibition in Beverly
enthusiastic letter to Max Ernst which began with the salutation: "Dearest Max Ernst, Dearest M
"Max" in the Vox Angelica painting.
A surrealist self-portrait of the artist. "Dream and Revolution."
MAX ERNST: If you open your eyes, and look at the outside world, you can see another way.
and you look into your inner world, and I believe the best to do is to have one eye closed and to
the inner eye, and with your other eye you have it fixed on reality, what is going on in the world.
of a synthesis of these two important worlds, you come to a result which can be considered as a
and subjective life.

WILLIAM NELSON COPLEY: For the invitations, we used an extraordinary photo by Frederi
exposure of Max in front of the studio wall. We also exhibited all the originals of "Une Semaine
Goodness," which actually means a week in which everything is cheaper. These were seven fant
had published as a picture novel in 1934. Max had used cuttings from illustrations to sentiment
for these collages.

From a practical, financial point of view, the show was the greatest fiasco of all. It snowed in Be
opened the Max Ernst exhibition. It had never snowed before in Beverly Hills, and I'm sure it's
there again.

Max's favorite painting at the time was "Day and Night," which he referred to as pure deli

MAX ERNST: So listen to the heartbeats of the earth. to yield to that fear which comets and th
men. To put out the sun at will. To light the searchlights of night's brain. To enjoy the cruelty o
the soft gleam of the lightning The majesty of the trees. To invoke the fireflie

NARRATOR: After a sojourn in the Nevada desert, Max Ernst begins a series of tiny landscape
postage stamps, which he entitles, "Microbes." He is overjoyed at the idea of soon being able

carrying his works in a matchbox in his trouser's pockets. Seven years later, Seven Microbes
Temperament, a miniscule volume of pictures and poems by Ernst, is published in

MAX ERNST: Seen with the naked eye, this rock is two times younger than its age. The all-be
decks himself in feathers and lead, and a new secretive sky every day. Viewed through a tempe
blush, turns purple, cries and screams and roars into the silence of the room like an irate pyramid
century, laughs with white cloudy laughter. Then its groundless laughter bursts like a terrifying l
beds of ice.

NARRATOR: In 1952, Max Ernst accepts an invitation from the University of Hawaii in Honol
lectures -- about 30 all told -- on the influence of so-called "primitive" art on the art of our age, w
150 students from many nations. He also holds a show of paintings there on the subject of volcan
Hawaii is actually shaken by a strong volcanic eruption.

In a letter to his sister Loni in Berlin he writes: "It has been quite a pleasant summer full of inhum
volcanoes. But all of it much too gentle. Even the volcanoes. You can stand at the edge of the c
fire in an ever so obliging way, and see white birds of paradise playing among the founta

MAX ERNST: When peace returned, and I had become an American citizen, I felt the urge to se
time ago, I had painted a picture called "Europe After the Rain." And I was interested in wheth
correspond to what I would actually find there. In fact, the picture was not really so far of

So we went back to Europe, only to run into more difficulties, because in Paris I had simply bee
remembered me, except for a few friends: Tzara, Breton, Eluard. But as far as making ends mee
daily sausage or roast chicken, or whatever, it was impossible. Simply out of the question. I didn

Fortunately, a friend I had met back in Arizona, a young painter by the name of William Copley,
me use his Paris studio, which he had vacated when he was obliged to go back to the states. It
same little side street where Brancusi lived opposite me, with whom I subsequently had a few
quarrels. But there's no time to go into that now.

Then came a nicer surprise. In 1954, I think it was, I was 63 years old at the time. I was awarde
Grand Prix of Venice, an award that evidently brought me quite a bit of fame. And quite a bi
bargain.

NARRATOR: In 1955, a year later, Ernst settles with Dorothea Tanning in the French village of
in the ___, At the point where the river Indre flows into the Loire. A region known as the g

Back in Paris one day on a visit, Ernst discovers among the rubble of a demolished Victorian b
which as ____ kitsch were scheduled for destruction. He has them transported to his house in __
into his garden wall. A playful reminiscence in stone of his earlier collage novels: "La Femme
Semaine de bonte."
MAX ERNST: How many colors has the hand? The painter paints the evening. He paints the

paints preposterous questions and blows the dagger with might. One, two three. he sticks his ha
plucks the helpless feathers of light. The painter paints half a day. he paints the entire night. He
and blows the axe with might.

NARRATOR: Max Ernst returns again and again to his collages, which Henri Breton once aptly
cards of a sorceror." In the 1960's, a series of three-dimensional collages emerge: assemblages of
from which the birds have apparently escaped.

MAX ERNST: The idea of the cage has always fascinated me, because the life we lead takes p
cage. And we continually long to escape from this cage.

When I come to a dead end in my paintings, which repeatedly happens, sculpture provides me wi
sculpture is even more like playing a game than painting is. In sculpture, both hands play a role,
It's as though I were taking a vacation, to return to painting afterwards, refresh

In sculpture, I often use things that people throw away. The sceptre that Capricorn holds in hi
nothing but milk bottles. Other parts are taken from abandoned ___, which were of no service to
always said that to create the fantastic, you must use the banal.

When I had Capricorn cast in bronze, and exhibited it in Paris, the reaction of the papers was bl
error."

NARRATOR: A painter may know what he doesn't want, but woe to him if he wants to know wh
is lost when he finds himself. The fact that he has succeeded in not finding himself, is what Ma
sole merit.
Narrators:
MAX ERNST: Max Ernst
Robert Powell
Jimmy Ernst: Peter Marinker
Dorothea Tanning: Shelley Thompson
Peggy Guggenheim: Linda Joy
William Copley: Donald Arthur
Peter Schamoni: James Greene
Werner Spies: Douglas Blackwell
Cecile Eluard: Brigitte Sawyer
Paul Eluard: Daniel Pageon
English version:
Mechmild Offermanns
Matthew Reinders

Photographs:
Prince S. Aga Khan
Rogi Andre
Binia Bill
Josef Breitenbach
Maria Ellinger
Denise Colomb
Dick Greening
Ettiene Hubert
C.W. Huston
John Kasnetzis
Fritz Kempe
Herman Landshoff
William Leftwich
Alexander Libermann
George Platt Lynes
Lee Miller
Andre Morain
Arnold Newman
Man Ray
Victor Schamoni
Frederick Sommer
James Thrall Soby
Bob Towers
WOLS
YLLA
Film Excerpts:
L'AGE D'OR, Luis Bunuel, 1929
8 x 8, Hans Richter, 1949
PARIS LA BELLE, ARGOS FILMS, 1960
MONITOR, Roland Penrose, BBC, 1961
MAX ERNST, Selbstportrait, NDR, 1967
Hannes Reinhardt
Werner Spies
HISTOIRES NATURELLES, I.N.A., 1972
Gerard Patrice
Rosamund Bernier
ARCHIVE FILMS, New York
DEFA, Filmarchiv

Extracts from:
Dorothea Tanning, BIRTHDAY
Jimmy Ernst, A NOT-SO-STILL LIFE
Film Crew:
Timothy Baum
Rosamund Bernier
Ernst O.E. Fischer
Petra Gallasch
Foster Goldstrom
David Hess
Cornelia Hirsch
Ernst Hirsch
Konrad Hirsch
Michael Kranz
Karl Kresling
Carl Lamb
Mathieu du Pasquale
Jurgen Pech
Andre Francois Petit
Helmut Putters
Peter Rosenwanger
Joachim Schablowsky
Victor Schamoni
Jenny Scheubeck
Pit Schroder
Gunther Spies
Werner Spies
Marion Waldleitner
Editor:
Katja Dringenberg
Written, Directed, Produced by Peter Schamoni
Dedicated to Werner Spies
Co-produced by Peter Schamoni-Film
RM Arts
Inter Nationes

ZDF
Peter Schamoni-Film, Munchen 1991
Distributed Worldwide by RM Associates

max ernst

Born 1891 BRUHL/BONN Died 1976 PARIS

film by de von peter schamoni

camera: ernst hirsch, peter rosenwanger, victor schamoni

music: igor stravinsky

MAX ERNST: My wanderings, my anxieties, my impatience, doubts, beliefs,


hallucinations.

My loves, rages, rewards, contradictions. My refusal to submit to discipline, even


my own.

The sporadic visits of Loni, my sister, the 100-headed woman.

All this was not conducive to a favorable climate for quiet sitting work.

Like my behavior, my work is not classically harmonious.

Not even classically revolutionary.

Seditious and even contradictory, it isn't appreciated by the specialists of fine arts,
of culture, behavior, logic and laws.

But it enchants my accomplices: poets, __, physicians, and some illiterates.

I was born with a very strong feeling of needs of freedom. Liberty. And that
means also with very strong feeling of revolt. Revolt and revolution are not the
same thing. But when you have this really strong feeling, of this need for revolt,
this need of freedom, and you are born into a period where so many events invite

you to get revolted and throw over what is going on in the world, and be disgusted
with it, it's absolutely natural that the work you produce is revolutionary work.

NARRATOR: Max is called up. Field artillery. Four years.

How can he cope with the stupidity? The military life? The nausea and horror?
Crying, cursing, puking?

An attempt to esconce himself in contemplation has little success.

All that comes of it are a few postcard size watercolors.

"The Spindle's Victory."

"Battle of the Fish."

"Animals Coming Down to the Valley in the Evening."

MAX ERNST: On the 1st of August, 1914, Max Ernst died. He was resurrected
on the 11th of November, 1918, as a young man who wished to find the myth of
his day.

NARRATOR: In 1972, at the age of 81, Max Ernst returns to the absurdity of the
First World War. He illustrates "The Soldier's Ballad."

An early dada text by his friend, Ribemont-Dessaignes.

MAX ERNST: There are no more stars. The sky is all black.

The drawing is all black.

There are no more stars.

They are all on the cap of the general.

Why do you like this text?

If it's violent and poetic at the same time ...

In 1919, we started the Dada movement in Cologne.

The only reason for this was that a powerful explosion of furious lust for life had
taken place among some angry young men ...

still dizzy from the most disgraceful of all wars in history.

What else could we angry young men do in order to release our fury than to try to
overthrow the whole foundation of western civilization?

Beginning with the cult of reason, logic, conventional language, religions,


philosophies, conventional beauty, conventional poetry; in short, conventional
stupidity.

"Don't roll off your spool or your brick pigtail will break, or the breezes will pick
the flames from your craw, or the black starfish will flow from your tubes and tear
with his claw the first-born off the table."

That was the first message I received from Art. Two days later Art was in Cologne
and we were able to resume our enjoyable collaboration.

I saw advertisements for models of all kinds.

Mathematical, geometric, anthropological, zoological, botanical, anatomical,


mineralogical, paleontological, and so forth.

These were elements of such a diverse nature, but the absurdity of the collection
confused the eye and mind, producing hallucinations and lending the objects
depicted new and rapidly changing meanings.

I suddenly felt my visionary faculties so intensified that I began seeing the newly
emerged objects against a new background.

NARRATOR: One of Ernst's most faithful friends and supporters from the very
beginning is the French poet, Paul Eluard who, as a French soldier, had faced his
German counterpart across no-man's land in the trenches at Verdun.

When at the age of 26, Eluard visits Max Ernst in Cologne with his wife Gala, who
later became Gala Dali, a lifelong friendship between the two men begins.

Eluard's enthusiasm gets him to purchase Ernst's first two large format surrealist
canvases.

"The Elephant Celebes" ...

and "Oedipus Rex" ...

which he says thrilled him by an unexpected drumbeat.

The pictures caused great waves among their circle of friends.

MAX ERNST: From that point on, I began to receive letters at regular intervals of
a month or two months at the latest which always closed with the phrase,
"Nobody's going to take our goosestep away from us." This phrase had the effect

of suddenly making me see the light. I realized that I better get out of here, and
fast. So I decided to go to Paris. Where else was there to go?

I even had to use a false passport to get over there. Eluard had lent me his own
passport, which I was able to cross the border with without any trouble.

And when I got to Paris, he was there to meet me. Paris, where a man was free to
do anything he pleased.

I lived in Paris for four years on my false passport, and the police let me alone all
that time.

The cultural and artistic climate there was very, very different from that in
Cologne.

Naturally, the general public were against everything the Dadaists did.

The general public was opposed to anything that diverged from conventional art,
including everything that had to do with collage.

The collage technique amounted to a criminal offense.

That is, it did violence to nature.

What is the technique of collage?

I attempted to see in collage an exploitation of the chance meeting, the artificially


provoked meeting, of two or more distant realities on an unfamiliar plane.

And the flash of poetry which results from their mutual approach.

NARRATOR: During his first Paris sojourn, Max Ernst is the frequent guest of
Paul and Gala Eluard in their house in suburban Eaubonne.

One day he begins to adorn the walls of Eluard's house, where the surrealists often
gather for their truth-seeking spiritualist seances, with strange, dream-like figures.

Eluard's daughter, Cecile, recalls this period after an interval of 50 years.

CECILE ELUARD: I was seven or eight years old at the time. My mother always
used to tell me to go out and play in the garden.

I hated the garden, you know. I hated the whole place. That house in Eaubonne
was a nightmare for me. Outside, the house was quite normal looking, but inside
the walls, even the doors, were painted with weird figures. Those pictures really
frightened me at the time. My father sold the house in 1932, after my mother,
Gala, left him for Salvador Dali.

When I visited the house almost 50 years later, the Max Ernst murals were
forgotten, concealed under paint and wallpaper for many years.

NARRATOR: In a revolutionary attack on the traditional aesthetic of European


painting, Ernst creates a relief which he once described as the final logical
consequence, for the time being, of the collage technique.

"Two Children Are Threatened By a Nightingale."

A cross between a toyshop and a sultry surrealist vision.

MAX ERNST: I should add something at this point: All of my life I have suffered
from what you might call a virginity complex when faced with a white canvas.
When I stand in front of a white canvas to begin something, to paint something, I

simply found it impossible to put down the first mark. I had to find some way of
overcoming this. And I did.

The 10th of August, 1925, a rainy day in a seaside inn, found me gazing at the
floorboards of my room.

My gaze became excited. Then obsessed with the sight of the boards. There were
a thousand rubbings set deep into the grooves.

I decided then to investigate the meaning of this obsession. And to help my


meditative and hallucinatory faculties, I made a series of drawings based on both
sheets of paper, which I worked with black lead.

I gazed at the drawings, and surprisingly, an hallucinatory succession of


contradictory images arose before my eyes, superimposing themselves one upon
the other.

I began to experiment at random with all sorts of materials, whatever met my eye.
The drawings composed more and more the character of the material investigated.

A series of suggestions and ___ offered themselves from ___. One no longer saw
wood, for example, but images of an unhoped-for precision.

A new kind of natural history was born.

This is a forest. Almost everything I make automatically comes out of a forest.


But that is not the whole secret of frottage. That takes us much, much further.

Natural history. This natural history in my view was really the only way of
communing with nature open to us nowadays.

That is, in the 20th century.

Of course, it was an approach to nature that had been prefigured by the entire
German romantic movement.

By Novalis, Joachim Von Arnim, Brian Cano, and so forth.

They had a feeling for nature that far transcended anything that had gone before
under that term, and in which the imagination, the force of the imagination, played
a great role.

What is a forest?

Mixed feelings for the first time I enter the forest. Delight and consternation.

And what the romantic artists called "the nature feeling." A wonderful sense of
breathing free in the great outdoors.

And yet, at the same time, the oppressive sense of being ringed in, surrounded by
hostile trees.

Of being simultaneously outside and in, free and imprisoned.

Who can solve the riddle?

Forests swallow the horizon. They take over the sun, leaving sometimes nothing
but an ___ without rays.

That was the beginning of a new series of images and subjects that entered my art.

One of those subjects was the theme of birds. The bird theme had been somewhere
in the back of my mind ever since childhood, really.

And especially after an event which then affected me very deeply.

It was like this: As a little boy, I had a parrot which I loved very much, and which
loved me very much.

Whenever he wanted anything from me, he would always hop onto my shoulder
and nibble at my ear, telling me quite clearly what it was he wanted. One morning,
I found this parrot dead in his cage. That very moment, my father came in and told
me I had a new little sister just born. Well, back then, my brain was still so
muddled, that I quite naturally associated these two things. And the impression
this experience left on me has really never entirely disappeared. Naturally, I knew
quite well that my sister was not to blame for the death of my parrot, but it brought
something to the surface of my mind that perhaps never would have come to the
surface in any other way.

Namely, a certain confusion of things and creatures in nature which actually have
very little in common, but which, thanks to certain poetic associations, returned
again and again.

At any rate, in my little brain. In my bird brain.

And I began to develop this theme of birds at the time.

And eventually arrived at a result in a picture called "Monument to the Birds."

NARRATOR: In 1927, Max Ernst marries Marie-Berthe Aurenche, who, as an


illegitimate descendant of Louis XVI, was raised in the belief that one day she
would wear the French crown.

Max Ernst's surrealist friends naturally jumped at the chance to celebrate him as
the crown prince, heir to the throne of France.

Occasionally, he appears in one of his friends' experimental films.

In 1929, Luis Bunuel, the Spanish director, asks Max to play a part in a film that
would soon cause a scandal, and become a milestone of surrealist art: L'Age
d'Or, The Golden Age.

MAX ERNST: I see barbarians looking westward. Barbarians leaving the forest.
Barbarians walking westward.

They have been asleep too long in the forests.

There was that first ominous event in 1933 when the world famous ex-painter, Mr.
Adolph Hitler, took over power in Germany.

I recall that in 1934, I participated in a meeting of artists in Zurich. We had come


to debate the issue whether artists could still simply make art at this point, or
whether they should put themselves in the service of propaganda.

I see ravenous gardens, themselves ___ by vegetation going out of wrecked planes.

I saw the nymph echo.

These works reverberate with the illogical and irrational qualities that are generally
ascribed to dreams, although artists are fully aware that they represent the essential
spirit of reality.

I saw with my eyes the colors and outlines of things receding. And I felt a calm
and ferocious joy.

The Spanish Civil War. It came as such a shock. I didn't doubt for a moment that
it meant that a second world war was imminent.

At the time, I had an exhibition in Madrid of my collages to "Une Semaine de


Bonte" ("A Week of Kindness").

Then, of course, I thought the things were lost.

But, as a matter of fact, they actually managed to save them during the
bombardment of Madrid.

It was incredible that they actually had time to do that as the bombs were falling on
Madrid.

Almost the only picture I produced after the defeat of the republicans in Spain was
"Fireside Angel."

This was naturally a very ironic title for a sort of ungainly beast that simply
smashes and destroys everything that gets in its way.

This was the impression I had at the time of the way world events were going, and
I was right about that.

Look what is going on in the world right now, in the last years anyhow. Who made
world history? Not the most reasonable people. The madmen did.

So if painting is the mirror of a time, it must be mad to have to show the image of
what the time is.

NARRATOR: At the notorious Exhibition of Degenerate Art held in Munich in


1937, the Nazis display Max Ernst's 1923 painting, "The Creation of Eve," or La
Belle Jardinie're, "The Beautiful Gardener," under the rubric, "A Slur on German
Womanhood."

The painting has since disappeared without a trace.

MAX ERNST: To one madness we oppose another madness. But we do not


pretend that this madness we oppose to this other madness can heal these people,
and keep them from doing what they are doing. An artist is simply somebody who
makes a statement.

NARRATOR: The last large group exhibition of surrealism before the Second
World War takes place in January, 1938, at the Paris Gallery. It was Marcel
Duchamp's idea to hold the show under black-out conditions.

The entire gallery was draped with old coal sacks, and it was so dark that visitors
had to equip themselves with electric torches if they wanted to see anything at all.

The darkness was punctuated by jungle sounds and baboons' cries from a
concealed record player.

The floor was covered with rotting leaves. Breton and Eluard, who had been
jointly responsible for the organization, fell out with each other after the show.
Max Ernst took his friend Eluard's side, and as a result, was expelled from the
surrealist group.

After a show of his work in London, Max Ernst returns to Paris with a new
companion, Leonora Carrington, a young English painter.

When his separation from the surrealist coterie around Andre Breton becomes
official, he and Leonora move south to St. Martin, a village near Avignon in the
Ardeche Valley.

Max finds an old abandoned farmhouse on a hill which is reasonably priced, but in
such bad condition that it takes him over a year to make it habitable.

After finishing the necessary repairs, he decides to enliven the facade with cement
reliefs.

Their neighbors are rather alarmed by this odd artist couple, and the eerie creatures
on the wall of their house.

MAX ERNST: The picture I was just able to finish in 1939 was called, "A
Moment of Calm."

It was a great forest, inhabited by birds and animals of every conceivable kind.

In this picture, the threat facing the world at the time was very, very clearly
present.

"A Moment of Calm." The accent lay on "Moment," because in fact we had only a
few moments left in which to make new decisions.

Calm, peace, was a thing of the past.

NARRATOR: At the outbreak of the Second World War, Max Ernst is interned in
France as a citizen of the German empire.

Initially in a prison at Largentiere, then at Les Milles, in a former brick factory.

MAX ERNST: The Comandante gave me permission to leave the grounds on


condition that I was to paint him a picture of the camp as a souvenir.

My girlfriend rushed off to get some tubes of paint and canvases.

When the Comandante came to see what I had done, I showed him a picture I had
done some time ago.

"You have no right to paint pictures like this!"

NARRATOR: To obtain his friend's release, Paul Eluard sends a petition to the
French President, ______.

"Mr. President, in view of the fact that you have always admired and furthered art
and artists, I take the liberty of approaching you personally.

An artist who deserved the highest possible esteem, Max Ernst, has been interned
in Southern France since the beginning of the war.

He is 50 years old. He's a simple, honest man, and my best friend.

He was the first German painter to exhibit in a French salon.

Here, in a little house in St. Martin d'Ardeche, which he built and decorated
himself.

He should be allowed to return there.

I appeal your goodwill."

MAX ERNST: At Christmas I was released. I spent some time in St. Martin
d'Ardeche and started working again.

Leonora was there, too.

Everything was going just fine until they decided to stick me in another camp,
because I had suddenly become a suspicious person ...

On account of the deaf and dumb fellow who reported me for allegedly sending
light signals to the enemy.

When the Nazis had gotten as far as ___, there was an imminent danger of simply
being stood up against the wall and shot.

Thus it came about that I had to spend a few months in a concentration camp as an
enemy alien in my so beloved second homeland of France. After my release, I
continued to go west. Westward at all costs. Because only in the west is anything
new to be found.

NARRATOR: Peggy Guggenheim, the American heiress and art collector, recalls
in her memoirs "Confessions of an Art Addict":

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: Victor Brown and I drove to the Villa Bel Air in
Marseilles where Varian Frey was housed with the people of the Emergency
Rescue Committee.

I think that he was upset because I was so much more excited about the old ones,
and tried to buy them all, instead of the new ones which I frankly did not yet like.

We soon came to some agreement, in which I was to give him $2,000 minus the
money he already owed me, in return for which I was to get innumerable paintings.

When I began my affair with Max Ernst, it was not serious, but soon I discovered
that I was in love with him.

On our arrival in New York, the Press seized upon us.

Just as Max was about to greet his son Jimmy, who had been in America for four
years, he was whisked away by officials. This made a marvelous photograph for
the Press, and it appeared in all of the papers.

Poor Max still had his German passport, and it seems the immigration officials
could not accept the responsibility of admitting a German into the United States
without a hearing.

I was almost out of my head, fearing he would be sent back to Europe. I offered
bail, but to no avail.

He was kept on Ellis Island for three days. Luckily, Jimmy turned up on the island
on the third day.

He'd been sent by the Museum of Modern Art with letters of recommendation, and
I knew Max was saved when Jimmy was called as a witness. Max was finally free.

NARRATOR: Jimmy describes the period after Max's release from detention in
his autobiography, "A Not So Still Life."

JIMMY ERNST: When Leonora Carrington arrived in New York by boat, with a
large body of Max's work in her care, Peggy's insecurity came to a head.

She persuaded my father and myself, together with her 16-year-old daughter
Peggin, to move to the West coast of California.

After a violently uncomfortable flight across the entire American continent, we


landed in San Francisco.

We stayed in the best hotels.

Peggy bought the latest luxury convertible with automatic shift.

I coached Max for hours from a driver's manual for his test.

After having passed, he wanted to drive all the time.

For weeks, we went on almost daily expeditions along the coast in search of an
Ernst-Guggenheim home-class museum.

Charles Lawton's residence on Pacific Palisades was up for sale.

An entire canyon opening up to Malibu Beach that contained an unfinished 60


room castle begun by a now-deceased silent movie queen was offered for 40,000
U.S. dollars. A counter-offer by Peggy of about half that sum was unsuccessful.

We also considered a bowling alley, a couple of fake adobe churches, and the
original home of Ramon Navarro, whose vast garage looked like a possibility for
the collection.

Peggy sent me on an errand to downtown Los Angeles to investigate California's


marriage procedures. Finally, she decided that California was not ready to house
her museum. Max rolled up his eyes with relief and we began with our
transcontinental return trip to New York.

On a late afternoon, we got out of the car to watch a rattlesnake crossing the road
outside Flagstaff, Arizona.

Max blanched visibly. He was staring at the same fantastic landscape that he had
repeatedly painted in Ardeche, France, not very long ago, without knowing of its
actual existence.

That one look was to change the future of his life in America.

At a trading post in Grand Canyon, we found ourselves surrounded by a sea of


ancient Hopi and Zuni kachina dolls.

Much to Peggy's annoyance, Max bought just about every one of the kachinas, for
$5 each.

$7 for the larger Zuni dolls.

We then drove via Gallup and Albuquerque to Santa Fe.

Max insisted on visiting an Indian reservation to watch the Hopi dances, as this
was his main reason for driving to the American West.

But Peggy, much to Max's dismay, didn't want to put up with the strains of a detour
of several hundred miles.

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: In New York, I started to look for a place for my


museum.

Finally, we found a dream of a house on Beekman Place overlooking the river.

We thought it would be ideal for the museum except that it was too far away from
the center of town. But we couldn't resist it.

However, we were not allowed to open a museum in this section. We had to take
the house for ourselves, to live in instead.

It was the most beautiful house in New York.

As Max sold more and more paintings, he bought more and more Indian, preColumbian, Alaskan, and New Guinea art.

We practically had no furniture.

And all of these things made the house look very cluttered.

People were always coming up to him and treating him with reverence and respect
like a great master. He took his adulation very well.

Max bought an enormous chair, about 10 feet high.

He sat in it as though it were his throne.

And no one else ever dared use it except my daughter, Peggin.

After Pearl Harbor, the question of marriage came up again.

I did not like the idea of living in sin with an enemy alien, and I insisted that we
legalize our situation.

Soon after our wedding, we gave a big party in our house on Beekman Place.

Leonora Carrington came too, and looked charming.

For once she dressed attractively.

Max showed some of his new paintings.

One of them was called "Napoleon in the Wilderness."

The backgrounds of these paintings greatly resembled the desert land of Arizona,
and the swamps of Louisiana.

NARRATOR: "The Eye of Silence."

"Totem and Taboo."

"Europe After the Rain."

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: He painted Leonora's portrait over and over, in all of


the landscapes.

I was jealous that he never painted me.

In fact, it was a cause of great unhappiness to me, and proof that he did not really
love me.

JIMMY ERNST: On all social occasions, including the meals in the luxurious
penthouse, the so-called triplex, he brought visitors to show them his paintings, or
"The Collection."

The visitors were usually young, attractive, and female.

On one occasion, the poet William Saroyan and the queen of striptease, Gypsy
Rose Lee, dropped in on the same afternoon.

He soon took her to the top floor, and started to paint her portrait.

Some time later, Peggy wanted to send an invoice to Gypsy Rose Lee, and I had to
explain to her that my father had given her the painting.

I don't know if she paid him for it in that way.

MAX ERNST: So I had to start again from scratch. Although I did find my old
friends there, and not only old friends -- there were also young, promising artists,
like Motherwell, Baziotes, Pollock and others. I even had the opportunity at the

time to give one of these artists a little lesson. I was showing him how pictures
could be produced in a very simple way.

All you had to do was fill a pot with paint, a tin can, and then punch a hole in the
bottom, and suspend the tin can from a string, or rather, three strings, and let it
swing back and forth over the canvas. And watch as it conjured up lines of a really
astonishing kind.

This was more than just a whim of mine.

It reflected a certain idea I had about the nature of drawing in general.

I knew that in Japan, for instance, the students in the art schools were initially
taught to draw with their hand.

Just the hand. Nothing else.

And draw everything from the wrist.

Then came the elbow, and then they drew with elbow and hand.

Later they learned to combine elbow and shoulder. As far as I know, the Japanese
never went beyond this point.

But what I showed this artist back then did go beyond it.

Because it involved the whole body, which could do as it pleased, moving freely,
and giving free rein to the emotions.

One might even say, I think I have the right to say, that this lesson I gave to that
young artist was the source of a certain style in art which now goes by the name of
"action painting."

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: At the time I was preparing my big exhibition, "Art of


the Century," Elsa Schiaparelli, the famous fashion designer, came to ask me to
help her arrange a spectacular surrealist show.

I sent her to Breton.

With the help of Max and Marcel Duchamp, Breton organized a big exhibition.

Max designed the poster.

Marcel decided to cover the ceiling with strings, and he criss-crossed the entire
length of the room.

The general effect was extraordinary.

The main painting was by Max, called "Surrealism and Painting."

At the opening, I made a scene, because the pictures I had lent did not have my
name on them, and every other member was acknowledged.

NARRATOR: After a long search, Peggy finally found a place for her collection,
on the top floor of 130 West 57th Street.

Andre Breton, and Howard Putzel had persuaded Peggy that Frederick Keisler was
the ideal man to create the physical setting for her gallery museum.

His plans for the project were indeed breathtaking.

PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: Until two days before the opening, not even Max was
admitted.

At first he balked about having all of the frames removed from his paintings, but
when he saw how well all the others looked, he decided not to be different.

The Surrealist Gallery had curved walls made of gumwood. The unframed
paintings, mounted on baseball bats, which could be tilted at any angle, protruded
about two feet from the walls.

Each one had its own spotlight.

The lights went on and off every three seconds to everybody's dismay.

First lighting one half of the gallery, and then the other.

The publicity we got was overwhelming, and photographs appeared in all the
papers.

Fourteen of Max's paintings and collages were on exhibition, more than those of
any other painter.

Naturally, as I owned so many.

At the opening, Max looked very happy.

JIMMY ERNST: An unforgettable event was a photo session in 1942.

New York artists in exile lasted from lunch way past dinner. The result was a
much-published assembly of 20th century masters, not unlike a standard high
school graduation photograph.

The atmosphere was explosive. The faces were sombre and self-important. With
the exception of that of the class joker, Max Ernst, up front and center, which
wears a distinct smirk, as if in secret judgment on the rest of the gang.

On his right, Tanguy, on his left Chagall and Leger. Then Matta, Breton, Zadkine,
Masson, Ozenfant, Tchelitchew, Lipchitz, Seligmann, Berman, and Mondrian.

Marcel Duchamp was present as a mere observer because "I have stopped being an
artist and now only play chess."

He whispered to me what they might have thought about each other.

'Leger a proletarian? He's nothing but a petty bourgeois horsemeat butcher.


Chagall would cover his grandmother with cerulean blue paint if he could sell her
for dollars.' Unfortunately, I was not so familiar with the objects of derision then,
but I was rather disturbed watching these eminent artists behave like Hollywood
starlets.

NARRATOR: In 1946, a Hollywood movie company, invited famous American


and European artists to participate in a competition on the subject of the temptation
of St. Anthony.

Max Ernst describes his entry as follows:

MAX ERNST: Shrieking for help and light across the stagnant water of his dark,
sick soul, St. Anthony receives as an answer the echo of his fear.

Only after the hypnotic spell of horror is somewhat shaken off, does one notice, in
the middle ground, the presentation of the theme of sacred and profane love.

In the lush center, the figure of an earthly temptress.

And high on a pedestal, the figure of woman exalted.

In the opinion of the confirmed surrealist, this painting is nevertheless in the great
tradition of German medieval art but as a fairly contemporary version."

MAX ERNST: Then I met a young woman in America, or rather in New York, the
painter Dorothea Tanning.

And very soon she became my wife.

DOROTHEA TANNING: It was around Christmas in 1942, when Max rang my


doorbell.

He was choosing pictures for the Peggy Guggenheim gallery, for a show to be
called "Thirty Women."

On an easel was my self-portrait, not quite finished.

He looked, while I tried not to.

At last, "What do you call it?" I really haven't a title. "Then you can call it
'Birthday.'" Just like that. He had come to stay.

That we were both painters, visionaries, did not strike me at the time as anything
but the happiest of coincidences.

It was so unbelievable, I told myself, "Yes. If it only lasts three weeks, it is still
alright."

Why do artists remain in cities? Must they chum with collectors, attend openings,
witness name-droppings in upper east and westside pastures in order to make good
pictures? Good objects? Good anything?

No.

We did it the other way. In 1946, Max and I embarked for the second time on a
long trip.

This time we take everything: Canvas, stretchers, paint, and the totem pole, the
kachina dolls, the pictures.

We want to return to Sedona, Arizona, where we'd already spent a summer. But
this landscape is not one to be forgotten after one summer. This time we want to
stay and build a house.

MAX ERNST: So we decided to move to a part of the country which I had already
seen during the course of our travels. Arizona.

There I found the old, familiar landscape that had continually been in my mind's
eye, and which had repeatedly appeared in my paintings, too.

Now I don't pretend that this was a result of some cheap, prophetic gift of mine.

It was sheer accident that the landscape was there, and that my pictures were there,
and had emerged at a point in time before I had ever seen the landscape.

You might call it the result of objective chance, which is how Breton explained it at
any rate.

We had a wonderful life there. It was absolutely marvelous.

Words fail me when I try and describe it.

The climate was wonderful, the people we met there were so different from the
sophisticated people in New York. It was simply terrific. Cowboy or artist?
People like myself who had gone there to get away from it all.

DOROTHEA TANNING: Sedona is the other way. And these are incomparable
years.

We cook in the open on stones. On wood fires.

We build the house of wood, for there is no water.

At the lumber company, Max chooses from among the warped and knotty 2 x 4's
green lumber of wartime.

We played house.

In the end we had a house with windows that opened and closed, where finally he
could sit in the captain's chair and open a beloved book and read as if nothing had
happened.

As if nothing had been squandered. Nothing taken away.

We had simply bridged time and space.

We chase away the animals from our five tomato plants.

We stand our ground in sudden confrontations with scorpions, centipedes,


tarantulas, black widows, and in the broom closet, a snake.

When electricity finally blooms, we are exultant.

Our phonograph plays Stravinsky on 78's.

Very loud.

Nature was not always open-armed.

There might be a week of red wind tearing at our wooden house, keeping us inside.

Then there were days when there were no sounds in the afternoon save the hum of
the heat.

It was so intense, so lurking, so aged, that we, the intruders, felt also quiet, intense,
and strangely tiptoe, as if in peril.

Down in the valley, the gushing waters of Oak Creek provided refreshment.

To the native Indians, it was sacred.

4:30 or 5:00 saw the sun dip behind our hill, and in half an hour the temperature
dropped 20 degrees.

Crystalline air drawn into burned lungs produced somersaults of energy.

We pounded. Wrestled. Scraped. Dragged. Swabbed.

Making art is not a silent affair. An abiding image of that time is of Max, hammer
in hand, crating pictures.

It is a fragile thing, the painted canvas. How securely it has to be fitted and
fastened, nothing touching its skin.

A helpless baby born of mind and gesture.

Between Sedona, Arizona and New York City lies most of the U.S.A.

2,500 miles were spun out and counted by our old Ford, eight times in twelve
years.

Each time a two-wheel trailer carried a load of pictures under its tarp.

Each time.

Because the beautiful, hapless pictures often went both ways.

Going and returning. Only minus one or two.

It was a great day when water was brought from under the hill.

Now we only had to turn a spigot, so that next day, Max could begin a monument
to our Capricorn hill.

A king and queen in cement and scrap iron.

Regal guardians for our house.

What else could he call it but "Capricorn"?

Now that we had electricity and water, our little two-roomed house underwent a
metamorphosis.

The small hut made from brown boards with its tarboard roof was transformed by
Max's own hands, stone by stone, into a solid artist's studio.

Max had always wanted to see the mysterious ritual Hopi dances which took place
at irregular intervals on the table mountains.

The first, second, or third mesa.

MAX ERNST: At the foot of the mesa, the first thing we saw was a church.

The priest was just coming out of the church. And he was obviously in a huff,
because only one other member of the tribe who had been commanded to come to
his service had actually appeared.

The priest beat a rapid retreat.

So then we asked the Indians whether they were Christians.

"Zuni live over there.

They are Christians. They dance with masks on.

We're Catholics. We dance without masks."

DOROTHEA TANNING: About 150 miles north of Sedona, the earth splits open
to form the enormous abyss of the Grand Canyon.

MAX ERNST: I had a very strong impression of the American landscape, of the
incredible beauty of the American landscape, and of the incredible diversity of the
landscapes there.

DOROTHEA TANNING: Shortly after crossing from Arizona into Utah, we


experienced the grandiose spectacle of Bryce Canyon.

Max only ever made one attempt to depict this unforgettable experience.

You would think that the story ends here.

You would think that nothing would come after those velvet nights and days in a
landscape so charged that we said, "If Richard Wagner had seen this, his music
would be even louder than it is already."

Precious as diamonds is the memory of a 9-day river passage through the Colorado
river rapids.

A paradise lost, it was all right there, along with a phantom presence of Indians
eyeing us from up there on their rim, or lurking in cave and cranny, uneasily.
Because it was theirs.

And even at this late date, we were intruding.

Arriving at Lees Ferry two days late -- we had played at movie making in a hidden
canyon -- we were hailed with relief by the locals.

And our movie footage was nicely integrated back in New York in Hans Richter's
avant garde film, "8 x 8."

"The King said, 'lady, now what game will you play?'

Then said she, 'The usual game. To be naked in the corn.'

And then the King began to study his first moves."

WILLIAM NELSON COPLEY: We drove 500 miles nonstop across California to


Max Ernst land, the Oak Creek Canyon of Arizona. We wanted to win him over to
take part in an exhibition in our newly opened
Copley Gallery in Beverly Hills. Next to Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst was the
most exciting name we knew.

Duchamp's telegram announcing our arrival, however, got badly garbled at the
Sedona Country Store, which was the only faucet from the outside world.

Max had been expecting Duchamp himself.

It showed in his face as we climbed out of the car.

Nevertheless, we were invited in with what almost seemed like enthusiasm.

Like Man Ray, Max Ernst was in his own way another exile hermit.

His paintings weren't moving. And his only neighbors were cowboys.

The nearest old friend was Man Ray, far away in Los Angeles. The last time they
had been together, they had gotten civilly and doubly married.

All described it as pretty much of a lark.

Otherwise, Max was cut off from his peers.

We stayed several days, eating, drinking, and vying with each other to make the
most outlandish joke.

Max always won, but he had two other languages to work puns on.

It was his court, and we were his jesters. There was no trouble about a show.

We escorted Max from Sedona in his Ford and trailer full of paintings.

The Ford had been around for a long time, and conked out every hour or so.

Max would get out and frown at the motor.

It would always start up again under his gaze.

He grew flowers this way, too.

Our show was the first retrospective that Max ever held.

It was composed of over 300 pieces.

We borrowed wherever we could: Germany, France, England.

It never occurred to us that anyone would refuse, and oddly, nobody did.

We had "Wrenish Night."

We had "The Triumph of Love."

___ lent nearly all the paintings he had.

___ and Pierre Matisse lent. Walter Arensberg lent.

Roland Penrose in London lent everything he had.

Marie ___, the bi-countess of ___, lent her two great bird monuments.

An exhibition within the exhibition, a sort of register aria of the artist, was the
large format painting, Vox Angelica, The Flute of Angels.

NARRATOR: A Noah's Ark built of compartments, a container into which at the


time Max Ernst placed a lading that consisted of a good part of his world and his
philosophy.

All of the artist's themes and subjects are collected here, as well as all the
techniques and moods that characterize his ouevre.

In the interstices, there appear the ghostly outlines of the Eiffel Tower and the
Empire State Building.

And counting all of the dividing lines which are drawn with a T-square, one arrives
at a total of 52 compartments.

And Max Ernst was indeed 52 years old at the time.

He painted this picture in a tiny cabin which was located -- as he once said -- on
the cheapest lot he could find in Sedona, Arizona.

What is striking about the painting is an alternation of rhythms which creates


equilibrium.

An alternation of short, small images with long, large images, which have the
effect of ______.

And this musical element in the painting ...

this alternating rhythm ...

was first discovered by a composer. Stravinsky.

WILLIAM NELSON COPLEY: Igor Stravinksy saw the picture at our exhibition
in Beverly Hills, and wrote an enthusiastic letter to Max Ernst which began with
the salutation:

"Dearest Max Ernst, Dearest Max," and he copied this "Max" in the Vox Angelica
painting.

A surrealist self-portrait of the artist. "Dream and Revolution."

MAX ERNST: If you open your eyes, and look at the outside world, you can see
another way.

If you close your eyes and you look into your inner world, and I believe the best to
do is to have one eye closed and to look inside, and this is the inner eye, and with
your other eye you have it fixed on reality, what is going on in the world. If you

can make a kind of a synthesis of these two important worlds, you come to a result
which can be considered as a synthesis of objective and subjective life.

WILLIAM NELSON COPLEY: For the invitations, we used an extraordinary


photo by Frederick Summer, a double exposure of Max in front of the studio wall.

We also exhibited all the originals of "Une Semaine de Bonte," A Week of


Goodness, which actually means a week in which everything is cheaper.

These were seven fantastical stories which he had published as a picture novel in
1934.

Max had used cuttings from illustrations to sentimental 19th century novels for
these collages.

From a practical, financial point of view, the show was the greatest fiasco of all.

It snowed in Beverly Hills the day we opened the Max Ernst exhibition.

It had never snowed before in Beverly Hills, and I'm sure it's never going to snow
there again.

Max's favorite painting at the time was "Day and Night," which he referred to as
pure delight in painting.

"So listen to the heartbeats of the earth ...

to yield to that fear which comets and the unknown inspire in men.

To put out the sun at will.

To light the searchlights of night's brain.

To enjoy the cruelty of one's eyes.

To see by the soft gleam of the lightning the majesty of the trees. To invoke the
fireflies."

NARRATOR: After a sojourn in the Nevada desert, Max Ernst begins a series of
tiny landscape paintings, the size of postage stamps, which he entitles, "Microbes."

He is overjoyed at the idea of soon being able to travel to a show carrying his
works in a matchbox in his trouser's pockets.

Seven years later, seven microbes viewed through a temperament, a miniscule


volume of pictures and poems by Ernst, is published in Paris.

MAX ERNST: Seen with the naked eye, this rock is two times younger than its
age.

The all-beautiful naked eyes, he decks himself in feathers and lead and a new
secretive sky every day.

Viewed through a temperament, he begins to blush, turns purple, cries and screams
and roars into the silence of the room like an irate pyramid that laughs twice in a
century, laughs with white cloudy laughter.

Then its groundless laughter bursts like a terrifying love song between two beds of
ice.

NARRATOR: In 1952, Max Ernst accepts an invitation from the University of


Hawaii in Honolulu.

His extemporary lectures -- about 30 all told -- on the influence of so-called


"primitive" art on the art of our age, were attended by about 150 students from
many nations.

He also holds a show of paintings there on the subject of volcanoes.

During the show, Hawaii is actually shaken by a strong volcanic eruption. In a


letter to his sister Loni in Berlin he writes: "It has been quite a pleasant summer
full of inhuman flora and erupting volcanoes. But all of it much too gentle. Even
the volcanoes.

You can stand at the edge of the crater and watch it spit fire in an ever so obliging
way and see white birds of paradise playing among the fountains of flame."

MAX ERNST: When peace returned, and I had become an American citizen, I felt
the urge to see Europe again.

Some time ago, I had painted a picture called "Europe After the Rain." And I was
interested in whether this picture could correspond to what I would actually find
there.

In fact, the picture was not really so far off the mark at all.

So we went back to Europe, only to run into more difficulties, because in Paris I
had simply been forgotten.

Nobody remembered me, except for a few friends: Tzara, Breton, Eluard.

But as far as making ends meet, or even garnering a daily sausage or roast chicken,
or whatever -- it was impossible. Simply out of the question.

I didn't have a studio either.

Fortunately, a friend I had met back in Arizona, a young painter by the name of
William Copley, was kind enough to let me use his Paris studio, which he had
vacated when he was obliged to go back to the states.

It was in the ____, the same little side street where Brancusi lived opposite me,
with whom I subsequently had a few rather unpleasant quarrels.

But there's no time to go into that now.

Then came a nicer surprise.

In 1954, I think it was, I was 63 years old at the time.

I was awarded what is known as the Grand Prix of Venice, an award that evidently
brought me quite a bit of fame.

And quite a bit of trouble into the bargain.

NARRATOR: In 1955, a year later, Ernst settles with Dorothea Tanning in the
French village of Huismes, near Chinon, in the ___.

At the point where the river Indre flows into the Loire.

A region known as the garden of France.

Back in Paris one day on a visit, Ernst discovers among the rubble of a demolished
Victorian building, large reliefs which as ____ kitsch were scheduled for
destruction.

He has them transported to his house in ___ where he builds them into his garden
wall.

A playful reminiscence in stone of his earlier collage novels: "La Femme 100
Tetes," and "Une Semaine de bonte."

MAX ERNST: How many colors has the hand?

The painter paints the evening.

He paints the good goodnight.

He paints preposterous questions and blows the dagger with might.

One, two three. He sticks his hand in the keyhole and plucks the helpless feathers
of light.

The painter paints half a day. He paints the entire night. He paints Prince
Elizabeth and blows the axe with might.

NARRATOR: Max Ernst returns again and again to his collages, which Henri
Breton once aptly termed, "The visiting cards of a sorceror."

In the 1960's, a series of three-dimensional collages emerge: assemblages of


wooden lattices, cages from which the birds have apparently escaped.

MAX ERNST: The idea of the cage has always fascinated me, because the life we
lead takes place, as it were, in a cage.

And we continually long to escape from this cage.

When I come to a dead end in my paintings, which repeatedly happens, sculpture


provides me with a way out.

Because sculpture is even more like playing a game than painting is.

In sculpture, both hands play a role, just as they do in love.

It's as though I were taking a vacation, to return to painting afterwards, refreshed.

In sculpture, I often use things that people throw away.

The sceptre that Capricorn holds in his hand -- it was once nothing but milk
bottles.

Other parts are taken from abandoned ___, which were of no service to anyone
anymore.

I've always said that to create the fantastic, you must use the banal.

When I had Capricorn cast in bronze, and exhibited it in Paris, the reaction of the
papers was blunt.

"A monumental error."

NARRATOR: A painter may know what he doesn't want, but woe to him if he
wants to know what he wants.

A painter is lost when he finds himself.

The fact that he has succeeded in not finding himself, is what Max Ernst considers
his sole merit.

Narrators:
MAX ERNST: Max Ernst
Robert Powell
Jimmy Ernst: Peter Marinker
Dorothea Tanning: Shelley Thompson
Peggy Guggenheim: Linda Joy
William Copley: Donald Arthur
Peter Schamoni: James Greene
Werner Spies: Douglas Blackwell
Cecile Eluard: Brigitte Sawyer
Paul Eluard: Daniel Pageon

English version:
Mechmild Offermanns
Matthew Reinders

Photographs:

Prince S. Aga Khan


Rogi Andre
Binia Bill
Josef Breitenbach
Maria Ellinger
Denise Colomb
Dick Greening
Ettiene Hubert
C.W. Huston
John Kasnetzis
Fritz Kempe
Herman Landshoff
William Leftwich
Alexander Libermann
George Platt Lynes
Lee Miller
Andre Morain
Arnold Newman
Man Ray
Victor Schamoni
Frederick Sommer
James Thrall Soby
Bob Towers
WOLS
YLLA

Film Excerpts:
L'AGE D'OR, Luis Bunuel, 1929
8 x 8, Hans Richter, 1949
PARIS LA BELLE, ARGOS FILMS, 1960
MONITOR, Roland Penrose, BBC, 1961
MAX ERNST, Selbstportrait, NDR, 1967
Hannes Reinhardt
Werner Spies
HISTOIRES NATURELLES, I.N.A., 1972
Gerard Patrice
Rosamund Bernier
ARCHIVE FILMS, New York
DEFA, Filmarchiv

Extracts from:
Dorothea Tanning, BIRTHDAY
Jimmy Ernst, A NOT-SO-STILL LIFE

Film Crew:

Timothy Baum
Rosamund Bernier
Ernst O.E. Fischer
Petra Gallasch
Foster Goldstrom
David Hess
Cornelia Hirsch
Ernst Hirsch
Konrad Hirsch
Michael Kranz
Karl Kresling
Carl Lamb
Mathieu du Pasquale
Jurgen Pech
Andre Francois Petit
Helmut Putters
Peter Rosenwanger
Joachim Schablowsky
Victor Schamoni
Jenny Scheubeck
Pit Schroder
Gunther Spies
Werner Spies
Marion Waldleitner

Editor:
Katja Dringenberg
Written, Directed, Produced by Peter Schamoni

Dedicated to Werner Spies


Co-produced by Peter Schamoni-Film
RM Arts
Inter Nationes
ZDF

Peter Schamoni-Film, Munchen 1991

Distributed Worldwide by RM Associates

From: http://www.american-buddha.com/maxernst.toc.htm