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Beyond Painting: Max Ernst in the Würth Collection Opens at the Museo Picasso Malaga
People look at the exhibition Beyond Painting: Max Ernst in the Würth Collection.

MALAGA.- Beyond Painting. Max Ernst in the Würth Collection brings together fifty-seven works including an important selection of illustrated books that is outstanding both for its artistic worth and for the rare occasions on which it is so fully displayed. The exhibition also encompasses paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages and engravings that delve into and reveal the artist’s unsettling, extraordinary world. The works on display belong to the Würth Collection, Künzelsau (Germany), one of Europe’s foremost private holdings and will be shown until 1 March 2009.

Described by André Breton as “the most magnificently tormented mind that could possibly exist”, Max Ernst was one of the leading figures of 20th Century art. His overwhelming imagination, deluded, exalted and rebellious, produced a transgressive body of work that underwent constant experimentation and which was inhabited by fantastical creatures and impossible situations.

“My wanderings, my restlessness, my impatience, my doubts, my beliefs, my hallucinations, my rages, my revolts, my refusal to submit to any discipline, even those of my own invention… none of these have succeeded in creating a climate conducive to a calm, serene body of work.” This was the comment Max Ernst (Brühl, Cologne 1891 - Paris 1976) made on his own work in 1970, at the end of his life. Behind him lay a lifetime of searching and constant experimentation, leading to a body of work that is one of the most significant contributions of its time to art and, in particular, to the Surrealist movement.

Surrealism, like Dadaism before it, was the response of a generation of artists to Western society’s cult of rational thought which, in their opinion, had led to the horrors of the First World War. The Surrealists believed in the importance of the unconscious, fantasy and dreams as a way to achieve a deeper level of truth.

One of the foremost of these young artists was Max Ernst. His father was a teacher at a school for the deaf and an amateur artist, and Ernst grew up with an understanding of the workings of the inner life. The birth of his sister coincided with the death of the family’s pet bird, an event that was to become part of the painter’s personal mythology and the source for many of the subjects he painted: half-human, half-bird-like creatures, hints of sexual relations between women and animals, and situations in which the morbid and the erotic both merge.

Beyond Painting. Max Ernst in the Würth Collection opens in the Museo Picasso Malaga a window onto this unique world, inviting viewers to experience something mid-way between provocation, reflection and, in some cases, riddle-solving, by displaying paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages, engravings and illustrated books. As the artist’s friend and leading authority on his work, Werner Spies, points out, Ernst is responsible for some of the most magnificent books of the 20th century. In his role as an illustrator, the artist put into practice some of his most famous experimental techniques, such as collage, photograms and frottage (drawings produced by rubbing charcoal onto paper over a surface with a suggestive texture).

With this exhibition devoted to Max Ernst, the Museo Picasso Malaga pursues its commitment to examine the most outstanding art manifestations of the first half of the 20th century, when Pablo Picasso produced the greater part of his oeuvre. One of the most significant of these movements was Surrealism, and Ernst was one of its leading exponents.

Beyond Painting. Max Ernst in the Würth Collection has been organized in collaboration with the Würth Collection, Künzelsau (Germany), one of the most important private holdings in Europe.

Parallel Activities
To coincide with this exhibition, the MPM will publish catalogues in Spanish and English containing a selection of writings by Ernst along with two essays by Werner Spies, an art historian, teacher at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art and former Director of the Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris. The catalogues contain photographs and full information on all the works on display.

The MPM has also scheduled a series of lectures in which art historians will explore diverse aspects of Max Ernst’s oeuvre. The cycle will begin on 23rd October by Jürgen Pech, scientific director of the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, and will feature the following guest speakers: Werner Spies; Julia Drost, assistant director of the Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris; Tanja Wessolowski, from the same Parisian institution; and Fabrice Flahutez, an expert on the work of Max Ernst. All the lectures have been organized with the collaboration of the Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris, and will take place in the MPM Auditorium at 8.00pm. Entrance is free of charge.

In the MPM Projection Room will be screened non-stop during museum hours the documentary Max Ernst. My Wanderings. My Restlessness, directed by Peter Schamoni. The film shows images and interviews of the artist, providing a brilliant and personal view of his own work. In English with Spanish subtitles.

The exhibition will also be the main theme of the Gallery Talks guided tours on Thursday at 6 pm in Spanish. They are provided free of charge to ticket holders.

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