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Max Ernst and Alchemy

The Surrealist Revolution Series Franklin Rosemont, Editor A renowned current in poetry and the arts, surrealism has also inuenced psychoanalysis, anthropology, critical theory, politics, humor, popular culture, and everyday life. Illuminating its diversity and actuality, the Surrealist Revolution Series focuses on translations of original writings by participants in the international surrealist movement and on critical studies of unexamined aspects of its development.

Max Ernst and Alchemy A Magician in Search of Myth

M. E. Warlick Foreword by Franklin Rosemont

university of texas press, austin

Copyright © 2001 by the University of Texas Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America First edition, 2001 Requests for permission to reproduce material from this work should be sent to Permissions, University of Texas Press, Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819. ⬁ The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of ansi/niso 䊊 z39.48-1992 (r1997) (Permanence of Paper). Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Warlick, M. E. Max Ernst and alchemy : a magician in search of myth / M. E. Warlick ; foreword by Franklin Rosemont.— 1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. isbn 0-292-79135-6 (hardcover : alk. paper) — isbn 0-292-79136-4 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Ernst, Max, 1891–1976 — Criticism and interpretation. 2. Surrealism—France. 3. Dadaism—France. 4. Alchemy in art. 5. Occultism in art. I. Title. n6888 .e7 w37 2001 709⬘.2 — dc21 00-010616 Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the Sid Richardson Foundation. Design by José Clemente Orozco.

To my parents, Bill and Lauretta Warlick



1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


foreword by franklin rosemont xiii acknowledgments xxiii introduction 1 the myth of the child 7 alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism 18 initiation 34 the occultation of surrealism 61 collage as alchemy 105 the alchemical androgyne: ernst and the women in his life 136 as above, so below: the alchemical landscapes 184 conclusion 215 notes 219 an alchemical glossary 261 selected bibliography 269 index 289


Figures 1.1. Opening lines, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E., As Told by Himself ” 10 1.2. Max Ernst’s horoscope 11 1.3. Athanor and alchemical animals 12 2.1. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Alchemist 21 2.2. Two versions of “St. Marcel”; Basil Valentine’s Synthesis of the Work from the Twelve Keys 31 3.1. Rebis, from Herbert Silberer, Probleme der Mystik und Ihrer Symbolik 46 3.2. Max Ernst, Winter Landscape: Carburation of the Vulcanized Iron Bride for the Purpose of Producing the Necessary Warming of the Bed 48 3.3. Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog, source for Winter Landscape 49 3.4. Max Ernst, Dada Gauguin 51 3.5. Petrus Bonus and Janus Lacinius, Pretiosa Margarita Novella 53 3.6. Max Ernst, Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) 54 3.7. Max Ernst, The Scissors and Their Father 59 4.1. Max Ernst, Rendezvous of Friends 67 4.2. Housebook Master, “The Children of Mercury” 69 4.3. Martin van Heemskerck, The Children of Mercury 70 4.4. Max Ernst, Men Shall Know Nothing of This 73 4.5. Anonymous, General Theory of Eclipses 74 4.6. Alchemical engraving from Herbert Silberer, Probleme der Mystik und ihrer Symbolik 76


max er nst and alchemy 4.7. Max Ernst, Memory of God 77 4.8. Anonymous, The Magical Head of the Zohar 78 4.9. Max Ernst, Woman, Old Man, and Flower I 79 4.10. Anonymous, Dissolving the Substance in the Water Bath 80 4.11. Max Ernst, The Cold Throats 82 4.12. Anonymous, Alchemical Vessels 82 4.13. Max Ernst, Chemical Wedding 85 4.14. Balthazar Schwan, The Seven Metals, the Four Elements, the Operations and Colors of the Work 86 4.15. Max Ernst, Bird Marriage 88 4.16. Comparisons to Animals, M. C. Poinsot, Encyclopédie des sciences occultes 90 4.17. Photograph of Madame Sacco, Clairvoyant 92 4.18. Man Ray, Once Again, Now I See Robert Desnos . . . 93 4.19. Les Halles District 96 4.20. Salamander/dragon detail, central portal of the Church of Saint Merri 97 4.21. Max Ernst, Inside the Sight: The Egg 98 4.22. Anonymous, Pelican-shaped Alchemical Vessel 99 5.1. Max Ernst, Gray, Black, or Volcanic Blacksmiths Will Whirl in the Air over the Forges and . . . 113 5.2. Max Ernst, Here All Together Are My Seven Sisters, Often Living on Liquid Dreams and Perfectly Resembling Sleeping Leaves 114 5.3. Max Ernst, Tell Me Who Am I: Me or My Sister . . . 116 5.4. Max Ernst, The Interior of Sight 8 118 5.5. Anonymous, The Sun and the Planets, Comparative Dimensions 119 5.6. Anonymous, Action of a Current of Air on a Melted Alloy 119 5.7. Anonymous, Luminous Specter 120 5.8. Max Ernst, collage, “The Lion of Belfort,” Une Semaine de bonté 122 5.9. Max Ernst, collage, “The Lion of Belfort,” Une Semaine de bonté 123 5.10. Max Ernst, collage, “The Laugh of the Cock,” Une Semaine de bonté 126 5.11. Max Ernst, Human Figure 129 5.12. Anonymous, male and female mandrakes 130 5.13. Max Ernst, Mysterious Egg 131 6.1. Anonymous, The Hermetic Androgyne 138 6.2. Max Ernst, Armada v. Duldgedalzen, la Rosa Bonheur des Dadas (Luise Straus-Ernst) 142


figures 6.3. Max Ernst, Dadafex minimus, le plus grand antiphilosophe du monde ( Jimmy Ernst) 143 6.4. Photograph of Gala Eluard, Max Ernst, Jimmy Ernst, Luise Straus Ernst, Paul Eluard, and Theodor Baargeld 146 6.5. Max Ernst, Portrait of Gala 148 6.6. Lee Miller, photograph of Marie-Berthe Aurenche and Max Ernst 150 6.7. Marie-Berthe Aurenche, Loplop Paradise 152 6.8. Lee Miller, photograph of E. L. T. Mesens, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, and Paul Eluard 157 6.9. Max Ernst, collage illustration for Leonora Carrington, La Dame ovale 160 6.10. Leonora Carrington, Portrait of Max Ernst 163 6.11. Max Ernst, The Robing of the Bride 165 6.12. Photograph of Peggy Guggenheim with The Antipope 169 6.13. Max Ernst, The Antipope 170 6.14. Lee Miller, photograph of Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst 174 6.15. Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst in a Blue Boat 175 6.16. Max Ernst, Chemical Nuptials 177 6.17. Max Ernst, Strange Hallucination 179 7.1. Max Ernst painting near Brühl 185 7.2. Matthäus Merian, Analogy of the Alchemical Microcosm to the Macrocosm 188 7.3. Anonymous, Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919 192 7.4. Max Ernst, The Great Forest 194 7.5. Max Ernst, The Bride of the Wind 195 7.6. Max Ernst, “Mite-size Art” 206 7.7. Max Ernst, The Garden of France 209 7.8. Matthäus Merian, Putrefaction Glorified 210 7.9. Max Ernst, Marriage of Heaven and Earth 213



Foreword M. E. Warlick’s inspired and wide-ranging exploration of Max Ernst’s lifelong involvement in alchemy greatly expands our knowledge and appreciation not only of a major surrealist painter, but also of the entire surrealist adventure, and of the art of alchemy as well. In the exhilarating breadth and scope of her inquiry, the global range of her sources, her expansive attitude toward long-disputed matters, her salutary mistrust of oversimplification—indeed, in her whole critical approach—Warlick reveals a refreshingly open-ended way of envisioning the surrealist project in all its marvelous complexity and diversity. Significantly, the book is also free of the clangorous, elitist jargon that has marred so much writing in the field of art history in recent years. Exemplifying the best in the contemporary study of surrealism, her book offers us an excellent opportunity to contrast current scholarly perspectives on the movement with those of earlier years. For the way surrealism has been studied in the United States is itself worth studying. One of the ironies of the late twentieth century is the fact that the word surrealist entered the mass media as a chic synonym for bizarre at the same time that surrealism as a body of thought and an organized movement was more or less officially brushed aside by scholars as a topic undeserving of serious intellectual inquiry. So-called popular usage (in this case an example of flagrant misuse and abuse) is always a sign of the times, and this instance is especially revealing. The earliest U.S. critical attitude toward surrealism, which prevailed from the 1920s through the mid-1940s, was one of disgruntled in-


max er nst and alchemy comprehension; the New York Times’s review of the 1938 International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris, headlined “Paris Joke,” is a woefully typical example.1 Most of the early writing about surrealism was in fact done by journalists rather than scholars. Even the academic articles during that period tend to be tainted with journalistic smugness and superficiality; 2 the few texts of enduring interest were produced by maverick intellectuals such as Julien Levy, Lewis Mumford, and Robert Clancy, or by actual participants in the surrealist movement, most notably by the Greek poet/critic Nicolas Calas, who emigrated to the United States in 1940.3 The journalist-critics left us little of intellectual substance, but their legacy proved deplorably pervasive, and persists to this day. Their irresponsible ballyhoo paved the way for the voluminous literature (academic as well as popular) equating surrealism with the antics of one of its relatively minor practitioners, Salvador Dalí, whose active involvement in the movement was brief, and whose influence on later surrealist activity has been negligible. Indeed, all the standard misapprehensions of surrealism in the United States—that it is primarily an art movement; that it specializes in the production of dreamlike fantasies; that Jean Cocteau was a surrealist; that it is irrationalist, a glorification of the unconscious, a kind of mysticism, uniquely French or at least European, all white and all male—all these errors and obfuscations and many more originated in the art and gossip columns of our leading daily newspapers. Journalists also did much to exacerbate the malaise that astute French critics have diagnosed as “Bretonophobia”—the inability and/or unwillingness to creatively confront and engage the formidable revolutionary and poetic thought of surrealism’s premier founder and theorist, André Breton. Misinformed and confused though these journalist-critics obviously were, their sensationalistic and sarcastic jottings did have one virtue: they signaled surrealism’s active presence in cultural and intellectual life. Although they pretended that surrealism was little more than a silly bohemian “craze” and a bad influence on young people, they nonetheless recognized it as “news,” and reported it accordingly, in their superficial fashion. The Cold War reaction to surrealism was markedly different. Instead of acknowledging the movement’s actuality but refusing to take it seriously, as the older newshounds had done, the new tactic adopted by critics and scholars alike was to declare it “old hat,” obsolete, and above all unimportant. If we ignore it, dominant opinion nervously hoped, maybe it will go away. And


foreword this deliberate ignorance was aided and abetted by the near-total absence of English translations of important surrealist writings. The dogma of the day was summed up peremptorily by a then-influential scholar who decreed, in a book published by a university press in 1953, that “surrealism strictly defined” had “produced little of interest.” 4 Clearly, confusion regarding the surrealist project was not confined to the TV-watching, comic-reading, Pepsi-drinking multitude. Odd as it may seem, kids who read Captain Marvel and the Surrealist Imp, a mass-market comic book published in 1948, probably had a better grasp of what surrealism is all about than most university professors of that time.5 No great feat of imagination is required to recognize that this drastic rejection of surrealism as a field of study was truly an act of denial—particularly in view of the fact that the movement was in those days numerically much larger than ever, and seething with new energies— or to relate this denial to the larger repressive phenomenon known as McCarthyism. It should not be forgotten that surrealism was denounced on the floor of the U.S. Congress in 1949 by Congressman George A. Dondero (R., Michigan) as foreign, un-American, and subversive.6 It was a time of widespread cultural nativism, as evidenced by the massive promotion of a “New York School” of painters and their literary allies, soon followed by a “San Francisco Renaissance.” From coast to coast, U.S. artists and intellectuals were eager to declare their independence from foreign contamination. Whatever the underlying causes of this squeamish disclaimer of surrealism, public awareness of the movement rapidly declined in the 1950s, and the effect on scholarship was especially baleful. Several generations of university students were actively discouraged from studying a movement their advisers dismissed as a frivolous, unwholesome, and ephemeral failure, irredeemably alien to the main currents in American thought. Even in art, the one area in which surrealism was conceded to have made at least some sort of contribution, numerous monographers labored hard to dissociate individual surrealist painters from the movement they had joined. As for surrealism’s poetry, politics, theory, and polemics, its crucial international dimension, its antiEurocentrism, its militant stand against white supremacy, colonialism, and xenophobia, its affinities with black music, its bold challenge to gender stereotypes and its affirmation of sexual freedom, its interest in the subversive moments of popular culture (from The Bride of Frankenstein to Bugs Bunny), its ecological implications, its celebration of “outsider” art, its role in the re-


max er nst and alchemy vival of interest in Hegel, Fourier, and Flora Tristan, its provocatively interactive relationships with such disciplines as psychoanalysis and anthropology—all these were either treated summarily or, far more often, altogether overlooked. In effect, surrealism was written out of the intellectual discourse of the twentieth century. Its ideas were caricatured and dismissed in the worst strawman fashion, its art and literature belittled, its living presence unacknowledged or ridiculed. The new radicalism of the 1960s—inspired by the civil rights movement and black ghetto uprisings in the United States, the drive for African independence, the Cuban Revolution, and worldwide resistance to the Vietnam War—naturally stimulated a widespread reawakening of interest in surrealism, and even the formation of a U.S. surrealist group. All of this had its impact in the academy, but it took a long time for it to go forth and multiply. Many post–New Left scholars who took up the study of surrealism aggressively disowned their elders’ critical methods and devised or elaborated new ones, but very few were able to free themselves of the long-established academic antipathy for surrealist revolution. As a result, numerous structuralists, poststructuralists, Althusserians, neo-Lacanians, and deconstructionists rushed into the arena without having divested themselves of their professors’ pragmatist/positivist presuppositions and prejudices, and went on to write books and articles even more one-sided, more distorted, and more prosecutorial than those of their intellectual forebears.7 A few qualified individual researchers did manage to produce valuable studies all through the Cold War, from the 1950s on. To cite only three: Renée Riese Hubert introduced the English-speaking world to the work of the major postwar surrealist poet Joyce Mansour in 1958; Myrna Bell Rochester contributed one of the first and still one of the best studies of René Crevel (1978); and, more ambitiously, the indefatigable J. H. Matthews from the early 1960s through the 1980s authored sixteen books and dozens of articles on surrealism, largely devoted to rectifying the errors and misreadings of earlier U.S. critics.8 However, such scholars tended to work in the margins of the academic community, and in isolation from each other; they bucked the stream but were unable to stem the tide. Interestingly, the strongest challenges to the conventional wisdom regarding surrealism in those years came neither from art historians nor from literary critics, but from poets and philosophers who also happened to be


foreword foreigners, known in the United States primarily in translation. Poets Aimé Césaire from Martinique and Octavio Paz from Mexico, both of whom had taken an active part in organized surrealism, became better known in the United States than any of the French or other European surrealist poets. Their critical writings—most notably Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, a scorching attack on the white supremacist myths underlying not only European fascism but also European (and U.S.) humanism and liberalism, and Paz’s Labyrinth of Solitude, an impassioned study of Mexican life and thought from the Conquest to the Pachucos and beyond—gave many U.S. readers their first experience of the depth and force of an authentically surrealist social criticism.9 In philosophy, scattered writings of the Frankfurt School thinkers Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, whose critiques of advanced capitalist society drew heavily on surrealist sources, played a similar role.10 These voices in the wilderness, radically at odds with dominant U.S. academic opinion, reached sectors of the American academy previously untouched by the surrealist movement’s unsettling message. Indeed, it is largely thanks to these heterodox poets and thinkers that surrealism, which U.S. critics had long restricted to a tiny, dank, and narrow corner of art and literature, came to have such a fruitful (and still-growing) influence in fields as diverse as history, musicology, film theory, popular culture, and race studies. Robin D. G. Kelley’s far-reaching studies of black cultural/political radicalism, David R. Roediger’s historical critiques of “whiteness,” Herman Lebovics’s critical survey of French cultural identity and colonial policy, Miriam Hansen’s explorations of the world of silent films, Paul Buhle’s studies of comics, pulp fiction, radio, and television, Archie Green’s illuminations of what he calls “laborlore,” Paul Garon’s reinterpretation of the African American blues tradition, and Ron Sakolsky’s and James Koehnline’s documentation of a heretofore unperceived countertradition of visionary dissidence in U.S. history are only a few of the many examples of contemporary scholarship reflecting a receptivity to surrealist inspiration and guidance.11 All this unanticipated percolation of surrealism in so many different and seemingly remote fields has encouraged many students to look at the entire surrealist adventure with new eyes, and inevitably has rebounded on the writing of art and literary history as well. It is something of a paradox that it took so long to realize that the study of surrealism and its methodologies, which has obviously benefited research in many other disciplines, might also benefit


max er nst and alchemy the study of surrealism itself. In any event, more and more researchers have begun to recognize that surrealism merits scrutiny not only as a historic phenomenon and a cultural artifact, but also and above all because its own critical outlook— especially the “absolute divergence” it borrowed from utopian Charles Fourier and developed in such radically new ways—affords such a wide field of application. Indeed, surrealism’s preferred methods— poetic analogy, automatism, dialectics, free association, aleatory inquiry, and the spirit of play (as opposed to the esprit de sérieux) —were developed precisely to break through walls of ideological inhibition, to loosen up arthritic habits of thought, and to foster an unfettered intellectual atmosphere in which fresh insights and a greatly expanded awareness can blossom freely in all directions. And this brings us back to M. E. Warlick, for her sympathetic appreciation of surrealism as a point of view and her eagerness to explore it and evaluate it on its own terms are factors that have contributed mightily to the forcefulness of her innovative study. These and other qualities that distinguish this book from the long-dominant trends offer us, in turn, a clear view of certain distinctive features of contemporary surrealist scholarship. Among the painters in the first surrealist generation, Max Ernst was the most militant in his devotion to surrealism’s aims and principles, one of the few to remain active in the movement over a long period (into the 1950s), and one of the very few to have made important and influential contributions to surrealist theory. In recent years his work has also become immensely popular, and few surrealists have been written about more voluminously. Not the least of the many impressive features of Warlick’s study is her defiantly original approach to this much-studied artist. Refusing to cover ground already covered by so many others, she has instead presented us not only with an abundance of new and crucial information but also with a whole new dimension on Ernst and his work as surrealist artist, writer, and thinker. Interestingly, this new dimension appeared to her in the course of her study of yet another realm of inquiry long held in disrepute by U.S. academics: the quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. Conventional wisdom has regarded alchemy as a pitiably misguided prescientific form of chemistry, or a greedy form of charlatanry, or a purely idealistic spiritual exercise. Surrealists, however, have long recognized it as a highly energizing art of transmutation that draws equally on the real and the imaginary, matter and mind, praxis and symbolique —and consequently as both confirmation and inspiration for the surrealist project itself. André Breton’s


foreword Second Surrealist Manifesto (1929) is notable for its unique blend of Hegelian/ Marxist and alchemical frames of reference, a specifically surrealist synthesis that defined their fundamental aspiration: to transform the world and to change life. Their modus operandi, as exemplified in Ernst’s work, was nothing less than “an intervention in mythical life”—setting forth liberatory counter-myths to challenge the various “official” imagination-stifling myths of our time. As Warlick shows, Ernst stood in the forefront of the surrealists’ rediscovery and reinterpretation of hermetic lore. Steeped in the current scholarly research on hermetism and on alchemical influences in art, as well as in the extensive psychoanalytic literature on the subject, she avoids both the academic condescension and the soporific “New Age” platitudes that spoil most literature on “occultism.” Lucidly she summarizes the principles and processes of alchemy that Ernst and his surrealist friends found so attractive, highlighting the lush, image-drenched, erotic language and astonishing illustrations characteristic of classic alchemical texts. Deepened by her prodigious knowledge of Ernst’s biography and of the critical literature about him, her inspired scrutiny of his art— collage, frottage, and painting—as well as of his writings reveals that alchemical ideas and imagery, far from being peripheral to Ernst’s oeuvre, as some critics have pretended, are in fact central to it, not only as theme or motif, but as an impelling inspiration and, indeed, as an underlying weltanschauung. If Warlick’s brilliant study were simply the first serious critical examination of a crucial aspect of the work of an artist who did much to shape the surrealist outlook, it would be a notable milestone in surrealist scholarship. But it is much more than that. Skillfully bridging such widely separated disciplines as art history, psychoanalysis, the history of science, and philosophy, she not only illuminates the comprehensive sweep of surrealism’s emancipatory project, but also greatly sharpens our sense of the movement’s creative interplay with other currents of thought, ancient and modern, and helps us grasp the complex many-sidedness of surrealism as an ongoing force. Warlick’s point of departure was the realization that almost nothing was known of what she perceived was clearly one of Ernst’s consuming passions. This realization recalls André Breton’s warning that the “greatest weakness” of contemporary thought is precisely its “extravagant overestimation of the known compared to what remains to be known”—an admonition with more than a little application to the study of surrealism.12 Surely the greatest weak-


max er nst and alchemy ness of the literature on surrealism by U.S. critics has been precisely its tendency to draw hasty and hostile generalizations based on limited or questionable evidence. Beneath that haste and hostility lies the unstated assumption that all that really needs to be said about surrealism has already been said, and that what surrealists themselves have had to say about surrealism can safely be disregarded as hyperbole and exhibitionistic posturing. In her bold rejection of such assumptions, her willingness to start from scratch in researching an artist already heavily researched, and her inclination to deviate from the beaten tracks of academe onto terra incognita generally considered impenetrable, Warlick superbly illustrates a large part of what is new in the study of surrealism today, and the richness of her findings fully confirms the validity of her approach. The basic features of this new approach can be summarized briefly. (1) Instead of confronting surrealism as an enemy doctrine to be denounced, or as a crackpot notion to be ridiculed, or even as an opponent view to be refuted, our first aim should be to try to understand it as a dynamic and constantly self-renewing current— replete with numerous troubling variants and more than a few outright contradictions (surrealism has never presented itself as a closed “system”). (2) Surrealism needs to be studied not merely because it influenced something allegedly more important (abstract expressionism, pop art, performance art, etc.) but for its own sake— because of what surrealism itself was and is. (3) Surrealism encompasses a vastly broader field than most Americans have ever suspected, one that not only exceeds the boundaries of art and literature, but involves the whole range of human activity, from critical theory, utopian dreaming, and the sciences to the everyday problems of morality, work, and leisure. Similarly, the movement’s time frame has also proved to be far more elastic than earlier scholars believed. As Karel Teige, the leading theorist of surrealism in Czechoslovakia, explained, “Surrealism is at once a new stage in the history of modern art, a new form of knowledge of the human world, and a tendency toward a new way of life.” 13 To ignore or minimize surrealism’s universal and world-transforming aspirations, or its seemingly endless capacity for renewal, is to miss the whole point. (4) Internationalism is fundamental to surrealism. No matter how Parisbased it was in its early years, the flourishing surrealist groups of Belgrade, Prague, Bucharest, Brussels, Cairo, Martinique, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Santiago, São Paulo, the Canary Islands, London, and many other places have


foreword been important in their own right, and had significant impact on Breton and his friends in Paris as well as on surrealists elsewhere. For the serious researcher, the conclusion is plain: To know the international surrealist movement, French sources alone are not enough. (5) The surrealists’ politics are not irrelevant or anomalous or otherwise extraneous to the movement’s other goals, but rather a vital and intrinsic part of the surrealist project. Those who trivialize the surrealists’ interventions in the political sphere demonstrate only their inability to come to grips with this admittedly very complex aspect of the movement. The fact that surrealism is the only major modern movement in poetry and the arts of European origin in which women and people of color have participated as equals, and in impressive numbers, is one highly revealing reflection of its politics. The movement’s relationship to anarchism and various dissident schools of Marxism, as well as to Pan-Africanism, the Negritude movement, Black Power, the Frankfurt School, the Situationist International, the New Left, the American Indian Movement, and radical environmentalism, shows that, in practice as well as in theory, surrealism’s political commitments have not been without effect. (6) The study of surrealism requires not only familiarity with poetry and the arts, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, but also a working knowledge of Marxism, anarchism, the history and politics of race and gender, anthropology and popular culture, and—far from least—the history of religion, mythology, and folklore. Surrealists always have been emphatically atheistic, but they have also evinced a deep and sympathetic interest in the Gnostics, heretics (Jan Hus, Joachim de Fiore, Giordano Bruno), Chinese philosophy (especially Taoism), Native American art and ceremonial dances, Haitian voodoo, and, as Warlick rightly stresses, the entire spectrum of magic, hermetism, and occultism. Here again, to slight any of these surrealist preoccupations is to misconstrue surrealism itself. This new set of “first principles,” discernible in Warlick’s study, sums up the broad perspectives of the liveliest and most original tendencies in the study of surrealism today. Warlick, of course, did not set out to devise a revolutionary six-point program for the production of newer and better surrealist studies. Rather, the very character of her research—her painstaking investigation of important but little-known aspects of the life and work of Max Ernst, and the sheer quantity of new knowledge it brought forth— revealed the inadequacy of the constricted critical frameworks that until re-


max er nst and alchemy cently have dominated the study of surrealism in the United States. Moreover, Warlick is far from being alone in recognizing that new ways and means of comprehending the surrealist adventure are urgently needed. Many other scholars have been seeking and finding, each in his or her own way, new approaches to surrealism that are at once less rigid and yet far more demanding than the old.14 Nonetheless, it is no small thing for a work of meticulous scholarship to exemplify so admirably—and incidentally at that—a new scholarly trend, and Warlick surely deserves our heartiest thanks. A rare combination of firstrate scholarship, critical reflection, and enthusiasm, this is truly a major study of one of the key figures who have made the surrealist movement resound with multiple meanings for today and tomorrow. Warlick’s passionate attraction to the always enchanting art of Max Ernst, and to the haunting beauty and unconventional wisdom of alchemy, reflects a critical approach as far-reaching and open-ended as surrealism itself. For M. E. Warlick, interpretation is also imagination, and criticism is first of all an act of love. Franklin Rosemont Chicago, June 2000


Acknowledgments Like all good surrealist adventures, this one began by chance. Like some alchemical legends, it also involved the discovery of a mysterious book. James Lynch suggested Max Ernst’s collage novels as a seminar topic at the University of Maryland, but it was Ladyce Leite who lent me her reprint of Une Semaine de bonté and started me on this project. Josephine Withers directed my dissertation, and her continuing support over the years has been greatly appreciated. Although it would be hard to prove, Max Ernst must have left the note in a book beside Michelangelo’s Separation of the Sun and the Moon that convinced me to begin this alchemical journey. My recent work has been greatly enriched by the generosity of many scholars working with Max Ernst, including Charlotte Stokes, Elizabeth Legge, David Hopkins, Robert Knott, William Camfield, Dawn Ades, Ludger Derenthal, and Jürgen Pech. Other scholars have lent advice and encouragement, including Linda Henderson, Susan Barnes, Janice Helland, Whitney Chadwick, Lucy Lippard, Urs Patyk, Guy Ducornet, Laurie Wilson, Janet Kaplan, and Fiona Bradley. I am grateful to Günter Metken and Jürgen Pech for their help in obtaining some of the photographs reproduced here. I especially want to thank those people who have shared in conversations with me their memories of Max Ernst, including Dallas Ernst, Eduard Trier, and Sir Roland Penrose. My research was initially aided by the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, through the award of


max er nst and alchemy a Chester Dale Fellowship (1982 –1983) and later a Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellowship (1990). A University of Denver Faculty Research Grant helped to purchase some of the photographs. The staffs of a number of libraries have been immensely helpful over the years, including those in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the University of Maryland; in New York at the C. G. Jung Library; in Paris at the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, and the Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet; and in London at the Courtauld Institute. Nigel Thorp encouraged me to explore the vast collection of alchemical materials at the University of Glasgow. There, aided by the scholarly generosity of Adam McLean and the gracious assistance of David Weston and his staff, I have deepened my understanding of alchemical philosophy and imagery. I especially want to thank Peggy Keeran at Penrose Library at the University of Denver for her generous assistance, as well as Jil Dawicki and her staff in the Interlibrary Loan office. My friends have been my most loyal supporters, including Margaret Whitt, Abbey Kapelovitz, Paula Sperry, Diana Wilson, the Loose Canon, Janet Saad-Cook, Janet Nolan, and Sally Herrmann, encouraging me to bring this book to completion and keeping my spirits high in the process. Jere Surber, my perennial teaching colleague, shares the magic of this project, having met Max Ernst at an exhibition one rainy day in Cologne. Our discussions and many trips with students to the Rhineland have enriched my understanding of Ernst’s homeland, German myth, and German philosophy. I also wish to remember Mary Ann Scott, who died in 1988. Memories of the early stages of my research are filled with images of her smiles, her encouragement, and her steadfast devotion to scholarship. I also appreciate the assistance of my cats, Meme, Cleo, Callie, and Phoenix, who kept me company, sat on piles of papers, and chewed only a few of them. This book could not have been realized without the support, encouragement, and careful editing of Franklin Rosemont, whose knowledge and insightful perspectives on surrealism have been indispensable and greatly appreciated. The staff at the University of Texas Press have been most generous with their time and expertise, especially humanities editor Jim Burr, managing editor Carolyn Cates Wylie, assistant managing editor Leslie Doyle Tingle, and designer José Clemente Orozco. In particular, I want to thank Salena Fuller Krug, who edited the final version of the manuscript.


Max Ernst and Alchemy


Introduction In the Second Manifesto André Breton commented that the goals of the surrealists were not unlike those of the medieval alchemists in their search for the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. His statement has provoked a debate among critics and scholars concerning the role of alchemy in the development of surrealist thought and imagery. Max Ernst’s central role in determining surrealist imagery is well known, and he too referred to alchemy and its practitioners in statements concerning his life and intentions. Perhaps most significantly, in his 1937 essay “Au delà de la peinture” (“Beyond Painting”), Ernst defined collage as “something like the alchemy of the visual image.” 1 Because he so often constructed works using the collage method, this simple statement provides a significant clue as to the importance of alchemy within his career. Yet such remarks by Ernst and by other surrealists concerning the importance of alchemy often have been dismissed as metaphors for the act of transformation, rather than being examined as serious evidence of their thematic intentions. The alchemical quest begins with a search for Primal Matter, that chaotic base material from which gold can be produced. While its identity eludes many initiates, this mysterious substance contains all that is needed to complete the work. It is composed of two essential properties, Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury, polarized masculine and feminine aspects of matter often pictured as King and Queen, or as the sun and the moon. In the laboratory, these two properties are separated, refined, and purified. In the


max er nst and alchemy illuminations and engravings that accompany many alchemical texts, their story unfolds as a romance, culminating with their sexual union and the birth of their child, the Philosopher’s Stone. Alchemical philosophy offers many symbolic parallels to surrealist thought. Gender and sexuality are basic components of alchemical imagery, as the chemical romance of the King and Queen unfolds in the laboratory. In recent years, the surrealists have sometimes been cast as sexually conservative, even misogynistic and homophobic, but their sexual explorations and recorded conversations of the late 1920s tested the limits of prevailing sexual taboos and sought to liberate these aspects of human life. In this task, Ernst played a significant role because of the knowledge of Freudian theory that he brought to the surrealist group early in its development, and because of his contributions to the sexualized nature of surrealist art. Throughout his career, Ernst fused male and female imagery into cohesive hybrids, similar to that most pervasive symbol of perfection, the alchemical Androgyne. Analyzing these aspects of his work reveals the pervasive alchemical symbolism it contains and points to a more complex reading of polarized sexuality in surrealist imagery as a whole. The construction of Max Ernst as the magician of the surrealist movement began early in his career. By the 1930s, André Breton, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos, René Crevel, and Hans Arp all described Ernst as possessing magical powers of transformation. His autobiographical writings, collecting his childhood memories, dreams, and fantasies, were gathered into special editions of Cahiers d’Art (1937) and View (1942).2 In these essays, Ernst clarified his indebtedness to hermetic traditions, citing alchemy as a model for his working processes and claiming Cologne’s occult past as his artistic heritage. Both issues were embellished with tributes written by friends, which helped to codify Ernst’s place as surrealism’s enigmatic alchemist-magician. Critical acclaim, however, came rather late in Ernst’s career. In 1951, his first major retrospective was organized in his hometown of Brühl on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday.3 Despite rave reviews from the critics, Ernst remained virtually unknown in the country of his birth. In 1954, he received the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale, his first international award, marking the beginning of a wider recognition of his achievements. Patrick Waldberg published the first biography in 1958, a study greatly enriched by the personal memories that Ernst shared during their conversations, as was the case with the later monographs by Eduard Trier and John


introduc tion Russell.4 In the early 1960s, large retrospective exhibitions were organized in New York and Cologne. The catalogs for these shows contained the earlier autobiographical essays, collected and expanded under Ernst’s supervision.5 In 1970, his poetry was compiled with other excerpted writings in Ecritures, further enriching the material presented by Ernst to both explain and obscure himself and his art.6 Several large retrospectives were mounted, including those at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (1975), the Grand Palais in Paris (1975), and the Haus der Kunst in Munich (1979), each with catalog essays that helped further to define Ernst’s place within the surrealist movement.7 Throughout the decade, Ernst scholarship was enriched by the publication of his catalogue raisonné, edited by Werner Spies, with contributions by Helmut R. Leppien and Sigrid and Günter Metken, supported by the Menil Foundation.8 In his numerous publications, Werner Spies has charted Ernst’s technical experiments and stylistic development while presenting the many overlapping philosophical, literary, psychoanalytic, and mythological allusions in his work. In Max Ernst— Collagen, Inventar und Widerspruch (1974), Spies also reproduced several of the source illustrations Ernst used to make the collages.9 As director of the Max-Ernst-Kabinett in Brühl, Jürgen Pech has authored many catalogs throughout the 1980s and 1990s focused on specific periods in Ernst’s life, analyzing his most significant accomplishments. In recent years his work continues to gather admirers and scholarly attention, as evidenced by several large exhibitions and their catalogs.10 The breadth and depth of Ernst’s work have come into greater focus through the efforts of many scholars, including Lucy Lippard, Uwe M. Schneede, Lothar Fischer, Werner Hofmann, Edward Quinn, Evan Mauer, Charlotte Stokes, Whitney Chadwick, Béatrix Blavier, Aaron Scharf, Peter Schamoni, Gerd Bauer, Dirk Teuber, Stephanie Poley, Renée Riese Hubert, Raoul Schrott, Elizabeth Legge, David Hopkins, Ludger Derenthal, Hal Foster, Ursula Lindau, and William Camfield. Their studies, which are cited throughout this book, have charted his many technical innovations and identified his thematic connections to psychoanalysis, human sexuality, Germanic legends and German Romantic philosophy, Oceanic legends, classical mythology, natural history and scientific experimentation, nineteenthcentury academic art, photography, astronomy, linguistic theory, and, most important for this study, his interest in alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and other hermetic traditions.


max er nst and alchemy Much of this recent scholarship has revealed the centrality of collage as Ernst’s primary working method.11 In addition to the found images he used in the collages, many source images have been found for his paintings and sculptures as well, reproduced in paint or cast in plaster or bronze. Such discoveries have sparked lively debates concerning the relevance of the original context of his source illustrations. Once these source images have been found, how far should their original meanings be imposed on an analysis of the newly assembled works? Certainly, Ernst responded initially to the visual potentials of these collected images, but did their original meanings or contexts spark his interest as well? Furthermore, many authors have observed that single images often hold multiple allusions simultaneously, like geological strata. Surrealist symbolism is multivalent, and Ernst’s work is perhaps its most exuberant example. Biographical, Freudian, botanical, emblematic, and alchemical symbols can exist in a single work, combined with great humor and visual acuity, but without any seeming priority of significance. To further confuse the issue, authors who knew Ernst well insist that he resisted interpretation of his works and minimized the significance of his source materials. Contemporary scholars encounter these challenges when describing the intellectual strength of his work in an era still biased against the “literary” artist. Obviously, one must seek a balance when enumerating the rich thematic allusions in his work, while never losing sight of the optical power of the image—the pure visual magic that is the ultimate strength of his work. Because of Ernst’s own claims to hermetic influences, several authors have discussed his work in alchemical terms, although in early studies there was a reluctance to explore his affinities to traditional alchemical symbolism, or to compare his art to hermetic imagery. In 1966, André Pieyre de Mandiargues discussed Ernst’s late landscapes, comparing them to the four alchemical elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and to the three terrestrial kingdoms (mineral, vegetable, and animal). In spite of his many perceptive observations, Pieyre de Mandiargues stated at the outset, “I do not believe Max Ernst has greatly concerned himself with this science, nor do I think, moreover, that he ever specifically intended his work to have this meaning.” 12 Geoffrey Hinton’s 1975 study of Ernst’s painting at the Tate Gallery, Men Shall Know Nothing of This, combined alchemical and Freudian readings, launching other investigations of alchemical imagery in Ernst’s work.13 Several scholars, including


introduc tion Charlotte Stokes, Elizabeth Legge, and especially David Hopkins, have identified alchemical allusions in his paintings and collage novels.14 This book, which began with a dissertation on the alchemical symbolism in Ernst’s third collage novel, Une Semaine de bonté (A Week of Kindness), offers the first comprehensive survey of alchemical imagery throughout Ernst’s career. While recognizing the pitfalls of taking such a single-minded approach to Ernst’s work, this study adds another clue to unravel the intellectual and visual density of his work. Alchemy was one of many philosophies that fascinated Ernst, and its symbolism and imagery sparked numerous transformations of his art. Ernst rarely created replicas of alchemical emblems, but he understood its basic symbolism from the late 1910s and used alchemical imagery, transformed within a personal context, throughout his many stylistic evolutions.15 The organization of this book can be compared to the alchemical Ouroborus, a circular serpent biting its own tail that signifies alchemy’s underlying unity and cyclic return. The study begins with Ernst’s mythic tales of his childhood (found in his many autobiographical essays), which contain the seeds of his later imagery. The second chapter traces the development of alchemical literature, particularly its revival in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as a foundation for Ernst’s exploration of this arcane science. His first hermetic images appeared during the Cologne Dada period. He developed these themes more fully following his move to Paris, where his interests in psychology, alchemy, and other occult phenomena paralleled similar explorations among the early surrealists. Their search for psychic automatism, visits to clairvoyants, group séances, and walking tours of the alchemical haunts of Paris are described as a backdrop for the evolution of Ernst’s art throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In the early 1930s, Ernst devoted himself to collage and also returned to making sculpture. In “Au delà de la peinture,” he described alchemy as the perfect metaphor for his working processes, a statement that will be explored in light of Ernst’s enthusiastic return to collage and to sculpture during the 1930s. The final two chapters return to his early years and gather together his images of women and his landscapes, comparing them to traditional alchemical symbols. His frequent fusion of male and female figures re-created the alchemical Androgyne, a model of balance within the polarized aspects of the mind and a reflection of his relationships with the women in his life. In his landscapes, solar eclipses form a


max er nst and alchemy natural conjunction of the sun and the moon. The earth, the sea, and the sky reflect the mirrored relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm, a truism that underlies the alchemical mystery. Max Ernst wove alchemical symbols into a complex matrix of meaning and personal revelation in his art. Steeped in the intellectual currents of his era, he was searching for a personal myth with multiple dimensions. His art evolved through continuing technical experiments and reflected a variety of deeply resonating philosophical, psychological, and hermetic concepts. Hermetic symbolism is only one aspect of the fertile combination of influences that play within his work, but it has a frequent and persistent presence that needs to be explored and deciphered.


The 2nd of April (1891) at 9:45 a.m. Max Ernst had his ďŹ rst contact with the sensible world, when he came out of the egg which his mother had laid in an eagle’s nest and which the bird had brooded for seven years.1


The Myth of the Child

Max Er nst created this magical account of his birth for the opening lines of an article published in View (April 1942), an issue devoted to the artist and his achievements. In this mythical autobiography, Ernst reconstructed the dramatic events of his childhood that had served repeatedly as points of departure for the thematic content of his art. To underscore that point, Ernst included the titles of paintings dating from the 1910s and 1920s derived from these terrifying and enchanted moments. Ernst was well versed in the writings of Freud and other early-twentieth-century psychoanalysts who stressed the impact of traumatic childhood events on the development of the adult personality.2 In this reconstruction of his childhood, Ernst revealed his own peculiar fascination with the past, his wry sense of humor, and his very personal mythic imagination. The View article appeared at a crucial point in his career. Newly arrived in America after several years spent battling extradition from France to Germany as an enemy alien, Ernst was once again uprooted from a country he had known for almost twenty years. His ďŹ rst migration in 1922 had taken him from a war-torn Germany to Paris, where he had been assimilated into the nascent surrealist movement. His more recent escape from occupied France had been even more arduous and terrifying. After several arrests and internment in the south of France he was rescued through the help of Varian Fry and of Peggy Guggenheim, whom he married in 1941. Ernst arrived in the


max er nst and alchemy United States only to be arrested by American port authorities and sent to Ellis Island for questioning. The View issue appeared the following year, when he was safely tucked away in Guggenheim’s New York apartment, surrounded by an assortment of European artists who had managed to escape the Nazi terror. His friends were expatriated surrealists and other displaced modernists who sought to establish an outpost of the European avant-garde in New York.3 Although his role within the surrealist movement in Paris had been pivotal, Ernst was practically unknown in America. This issue of View, edited by Charles Henri Ford, was intended to pay homage to the artist and to bring his work to the attention of an American audience. While his official connection to the surrealist movement had been strained recently by conflicts between André Breton and Ernst’s close friend Paul Eluard, the View issue opened with Breton’s laudatory essay, titled “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst.” 4 Along with Ernst’s own autobiographical essay, the remainder of the issue is filled with tributes paid to Ernst by his friends, artists and writers who contributed anecdotes, reminiscences, and imaginative mythmaking of their own. Almost all characterized him as the undisputed magician of the surrealist movement. Perhaps Ernst’s reaffirmation of his psychological moorings was a therapeutic exercise during this time of upheaval. Still, it might seem strange that while living in America in the midst of World War II he would choose to emphasize his philosophical links with Germany, a country he had left almost twenty years before.5 In the View essay, Ernst focused primarily on his roots within the rich cultural heritage of Cologne and the Rhineland, and then chronicled his early childhood and adolescence up through the end of the First World War. He ignored his years in Paris by leaping chronologically from 1918 to 1941, although he included the titles of several works from these years in the text. His adopted country of France was mentioned only in passing, and he ended the autobiography by observing that his plane arrived in the United States on July 14, an oblique reference to Bastille Day. In spite of the omission of his surrealist years, the View essay was Ernst’s richest revelation of his early sources and influences. Earlier in his career, Ernst wrote several essays recounting his childhood experiences and explaining his techniques. Each of these statements was characteristic of its era, and each revealed relevant artistic issues of that time.6 In 1927, Ernst published an essay titled “Visions de demi-sommeil” (“Visions of Half-


the myth of the child Sleep”), describing a childhood incident that occurred between the ages of five and seven.7 This feverish vision, provoked by a bout of measles, had served as a springboard for the development of his later “automatic” paintings and frottages. Largely in response to Breton’s first Surrealist Manifesto (1924), Ernst used this memory to explain his hallucinatory working methods in order to position himself squarely within the prevailing emphasis on automatism. Throughout the 1930s, he published several short essays in surrealist periodicals to further clarify his methods of inspiration and technical experiments. The most extensive of these, “Au delà de la peinture” (“Beyond Painting”), appeared in 1937 in a special issue of Cahiers d’Art devoted to Ernst and his work.8 He began the essay by reprinting “Visions de demi-sommeil,” and then elaborated on the centrality of the collage process to his art. He connected the collage process to alchemy and made several allusions to the alchemical nature of fusing the disparate elements within his collages. The essay ended with a section titled “Identité instantanée” (“Instantaneous Identity”), in which he pondered the curious dialectical poles of his psychological makeup. The first and final sections of that essay, along with the View article, were Ernst’s most significant constructs of his mythic identity.9 In the View article, Ernst distilled his earlier statements while constructing a new myth of his childhood. Like “Au delà de la peinture,” this essay contained several references to hermetic ideas. Published at the end of his surrealist years in Paris, both essays reflected a fascination with alchemy that had been growing among the surrealists since the early 1920s. The View article became the crucible in which the fantasies of his early childhood and adolescence were fused to hermetic lore. Throughout the text, Ernst balanced his childhood traumas with the magical incubations of his homeland. Interwoven within these two central threads were additional references to religion, politics, geography, history, and fairy tales, and these rich allusions have been frequently cited to support diverse interpretations of his art.10 In order to build a case for Ernst’s interest in hermeticism, his autobiographical writings must be explored in this light. In her analysis of the View issue, Charlotte Stokes gathered Ernst’s hermetic references as well as those by the other authors in this issue, including Henry Miller, Leonora Carrington, and Nicolas Calas.11 Stokes made a perceptive observation that Ernst’s first paragraph and André Breton’s essay “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst” both referred to eggs and to the number seven, thus incorporating the enig-


max er nst and alchemy matic symbolic language of the ancient alchemists. She also identified the source of the many small devils and other illustrations used throughout the View issue as Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal. Within the View article, Ernst mentioned the occult, magic, and witchcraft. These paths of hermetic initiation share common ideas, yet each implies different approaches to spiritual enlightenment, to the wielding of power, and to systems of symbolic imagery. Associations to alchemy were also contained within this essay, but they were veiled and grafted onto other hermetic systems. The opening lines (Fig. 1.1) demonstrate Ernst’s mixing of eclectic imagery. The initial contains the letter T combined with an owl, a symbol of wisdom as well as witchcraft. The original illustration from Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal depicted Stolas, one of the great princes of Hell.12 The caption in the original explained that Stolas taught the art of astronomy and was also concerned with the properties of plants and the value of precious stones. This devil was an appropriate choice to inaugurate the essay, considering Ernst’s frequent use of astronomical and plant imagery within his work. Ernst also illustrated this passage with his natal horoscope (Fig. 1.2), indicating his interest in astrology and the placement of the planets at the moment of his birth.13 The owl is connected to witchcraft, but other crowned animals found in alchemical illustrations indicate their royal nature and physical perfection.

Fig. 1.1. Opening lines, Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E., As Told by Himself,” View 2, no. 1 (April 1942): 28.


the myth of the child

Fig. 1.2. Max Ernst’s horoscope, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E., As Told by Himself,” View 2, no. 1 (April 1942): 28.

For example, several of the most common alchemical symbols are contained in an engraving (Fig. 1.3) originally printed in Michael Maier’s Tripus aureus (1618) and reprinted in the late nineteenth century by Albert Poisson.14 The brick structure at the top of this emblem is the athanor, or furnace, and within its tower is a cauldron in which the vessel is heated. The vessel, or alembic, indicated here by an inscribed circle around a snake, is also called the Philosophic Egg. The snake symbolizes Primal Matter, the unrefined base material that must be refined and purified to produce the Philosopher’s Stone. The parade of animals below represents both materials and operations of the alchemical work. The lion and the eagle in the first row are the two polarized aspects of Primal Matter: Philosophic Sulphur, the fixed masculine substance, and Philosophic Mercury, its volatile feminine counterpart. Elsewhere, these two antithetical properties are symbolized by the sun and moon, or by a King and Queen. The crowned snake, like the one above within the egg, represents Primal Matter, from which the two primary characters are derived. Dragons can also represent Primal Matter as well as the fire that heats the alchemical vessel. Any winged creature, like the dragon and the eagle here, is considered a volatile substance or process. The remaining birds symbolize alchemical operations because of the colors that appear in


Fig. 1.3. Athanor and alchemical animals, engraving from Musaeum Hermeticum (Frankfurt: Lucas Jennis, 1625): 447. Courtesy of Glasgow University Library, Department of Special Collections.

the myth of the child the vessel at certain stages. The crow represents the first stage of blackening or nigredo, the stage of putrefaction. The peacock represents a stage at which an iridescence appears within the vessel. The swan symbolizes albedo, a whitening stage of purification. In both alchemical and Christian/classical symbolism, the pelican picks blood from its own breast to feed its chicks, while the phoenix is the bird that rises from fire. In alchemical imagery, these birds are usually conflated so that a single bird picking its breast arises from fire, sometimes surrounded by its chicks. This represents the reddening stage of conjunctio, the stage at which the Philosopher’s Stone appears. In the text, Ernst stated that his mother laid the egg that was incubated by an eagle for seven years. By choosing an eagle as his surrogate mother, Ernst selected a symbol derived from the alchemical tradition, in which eagles symbolize the volatile feminine aspects of Primal Matter. Ernst’s relationship to his real mother, Luise Kopp Ernst, was not stressed in the View article, but in a later expanded version of his autobiography, Ernst described his mother as “white as snow, red as blood, black as the black sea.” 15 While this colorful description recalled the German fairy tale of Schneewittchen (Snow White), it also incorporated the symbolic colors of three important phases in the alchemical work— black for putrefaction, white for ablution, and red for conjunction. These later biographical notes clarified the veiled message in the View article—that Max was a child born of an alchemical mother in a Philosophic Egg. His seven-year incubation recalled the significance of the number seven to alchemy, because of correlations between the seven ancient planets and the seven metals. Several alchemical manuscripts were divided into seven chapters, including the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz by Johann Valentin Andreae.16 While references to alchemical symbolism exist in this opening paragraph, Ernst certainly was mixing his metaphors. As the remainder of the essay unfolds, Ernst wove together a mélange of mythic imagery, drawn from the traditions of magic, German folklore, Christian legend, and alchemy. The setting for this miraculous nativity was Brühl, a village between Cologne and Bonn. Ernst enumerated the many enchanted legends about this city, a “medieval culture-center of the Rhineland.” It was Cologne’s position within the mixed currents of eastern and western European thought that created “fertile conflicts in a sensible child’s brain” and nourished “those contradictory tendencies” that were to become the dialectic poles of his psychological


max er nst and alchemy makeup. Ernst enumerated Cologne’s merits as the source of inspiration for his later works: There is the crosspoint of the most important European culturetendencies, early Mediterranean influence, western rationalism, eastern inclination to occultism, northern mythology, Prussian categorical imperative, ideals of the French Revolution and so on. In Max Ernst’s work one can recognize a continuous powerful drama of those contradictory tendencies. Maybe one day some elements of a new mythology will spring out of this drama.17 Cologne was still “haunted” by two of its most famous occultists, Cornelius Agrippa and Albert the Great. Both men resided in Cologne and traveled to Paris, their peripatetic careers resembling Ernst’s own. Ernst referred to Agrippa as a “splendid magician,” while Breton, who also evoked him in praise of Ernst, called him an “arch-sorcerer.” 18 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486 –1535) was primarily a magician and reformer of the magical arts during the Renaissance. His most famous work, De occulta philosophia, explored the worlds of natural, celestial, and ceremonial magic through an investigation of medicine, natural philosophy, astrology, mathematics, and religion.19 Albert the Great (1193 –1280) was more concretely tied to the alchemical canon, although some of his ascribed texts are now considered spurious attributions. He was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas, but more important for the history of alchemy were his writings on the transmutation of metals.20 After describing his mythic birth and Cologne’s rich and diverse contributions to the “fertile conflicts” in his early psychological development, Ernst turned to his childhood memories. He emphasized the roles of his parents and sisters as he related the traumatic events that had shaped his art. The most significant and problematic relationship was with his father.21 They had been estranged since Ernst’s controversial Cologne Dada exhibitions, and Ernst had no contact with his father after moving to Paris. In View, Ernst emphasized his tense relationship with his father, underscoring his belief in Freud’s Oedipal theory. Symbolic elements drawn from the Oedipal myth appeared often in Ernst’s early paintings, especially those completed soon after Philipp’s expulsion of his son from the family.22 Philipp Ernst taught in a school for deaf children. A Sunday painter of


the myth of the child modest talents, he received several commissions to reproduce famous works of art for local parish churches. In these copies, he took liberties with the originals and substituted the faces of his family and friends for those of the saints and angels, a penchant for copying that Ernst would later emulate. Although Ernst rejected his father’s style, Philipp was the first to inspire Max to paint. Together they visited the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, where Max’s desire to become an artist was kindled at the age of six.23 Philipp also played a prominent part in Max’s essay titled “Visions de demi-sommeil.” 24 Ernst referred to this same early memory in the View article, abbreviating it radically: “(1897) First contact with hallucination. Measles. Fear of death and the annihilating powers.” In the earlier, overtly sexual version, Max recalled a feverish vision provoked by staring at a panel of fake mahogany. A shiny black man appeared, wearing his father’s mustache. Taking a soft fat crayon from the pocket of his trousers, he began to draw black lines on the fake mahogany panel. Panting heavily, he shaped these lines into terrifying animals that came alive, filling young Max with horror. Then he gathered these animals into a vase that he spun with a whip that had been transformed from the soft crayon. Using the act of painting as a metaphor for sexual activity, Ernst later realized that by conjuring this vision, he had vicariously witnessed his own conception. In View, Ernst explained that this vision later led him “voluntarily to provoke hallucinations of the same kind in looking obstinately at wood panels, clouds, wallpapers, unplastered walls and so on to let his ‘imagination’ go,” spawning his technical experiments with frottage and decalcomania. These automatic methods operated in direct opposition to his father’s meticulous rendering of the observable world. Max’s preoccupation with sexual imagery in this essay can be linked to the Freudian emphasis on childhood sexual fantasies as the foundation of personality development. At the same time, sexuality is also central to alchemical symbolism. The two opposed properties of Primal Matter, Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury, represented in alchemical illustrations by a King and Queen, or by the sun and the moon, make love in the alchemical vessel. Their child, the Philosopher’s Stone, is formed by their sexual union. Next to his father, Ernst’s sisters Maria and Loni played the most significant roles in his early psychological development. The death of his older sister Maria and the birth of his youngest sister, Loni, were two of the most memorable traumatic events of his childhood. Maria, who was only a year


max er nst and alchemy older than Max, died one night in 1897, after having kissed her brothers and her sisters good-bye just a few hours before. Her untimely death affected the boy deeply. In 1906, when Max was almost fifteen, his youngest sister, Loni, was born. He described this event as his “first contact with occult, magic and witchcraft powers.” One of his best friends, a most intelligent and affectionate pink cockatoo, died in the night of January 5th. It was an awful shock to Max when he found the corpse in the morning and when, at the same moment, his father announced to him the birth of sister Loni. The perturbation of the youth was so enormous that he fainted. In his imagination he connected both events and charged the baby with extortion of the bird’s life. A series of mystical crises, fits of hysteria, exaltations and depressions followed. A dangerous confusion between birds and humans became encrusted in his mind and asserted itself in his drawings and paintings. . . .25 This memory launched a central motif in Ernst’s imagery, the fusion of birds with human beings. While bird imagery pervaded his art, the bird Loplop, who served as the artist’s alter ego, first appeared in the paintings and collages of the late 1920s.26 The hermetic codes of this passage must be deciphered, particularly since Ernst referred to the events surrounding Loni’s birth as his “first contact with the occult, magic and witchcraft powers.” These two traumatic events created within the child’s mind a concrete connection between the feminine and a hermetic cycle of death and life. Ernst emphasized this point when describing Loni’s birth: later Max identified himself voluntarily with Loplop, the Superior of the Birds. This phantom remained inseparable from another one called Perturbation ma soeur, la femme 100 têtes.27 The inextricable link between Loplop and his female counterpart resulted from these traumatic childhood experiences with his two sisters. Evan Mauer found Ernst’s preoccupation with death and birth throughout the View article to be evidence of his interest in shamanism.28 Traditionally the shaman’s role is that of an intermediary between divine forces and


the myth of the child human beings. Skilled as clairvoyants and interpreters of dreams, shamans use their supernatural powers to construct magical fetishes and talismans. Shamans sustain their powers through dreams and trance states, like the visionary hallucinations of Ernst’s childhood. Their initiation often takes the form of a symbolic death and rebirth, similar to the one described by Ernst in the View article concerning his war years: (1914) Max Ernst dies the 1st of August 1914. He resuscitated the 11th of November 1918 as a young man aspiring to become a magician and to find the myth of his time.29 In an interview with Mauer, Ernst confirmed that he had been interested in the tribal traditions of the shamans as well as the Western tradition of alchemy.30 Death and rebirth are also central to alchemical lore. The old King must die so that the young King can be born, as Primal Matter must be destroyed to initiate the production of the Philosopher’s Stone (Fig. 3.5). The alchemical birth of the son following the death of the father has Oedipal implications that Ernst would have appreciated. Whatever the truth of Ernst’s memories as recounted in View, little evidence remains that he engaged in any hermetic activities during his youth. From an early age, drawing was a way to bring equilibrium to his agitated temperament by forcing him to “see clearly.” 31 He described his disposition as nervous and excitable, indicating that his hallucinatory vision during his fever and his hysterical crisis following Loni’s birth were real. His early drawings, however, reveal little of these conflicts and nothing of his visions. The extant works generally depict family members and landscape scenes around Brühl. His first exposure to hermetic philosophy probably occurred at the university, but his art did not contain any alchemical inclinations until after the war, when he was demobilized—symbolically reborn—and determined to “become a magician and to find the myth of his time.” 32 Looking back on his formative years, the View essay imposed a rather eclectic hermetic formula on his childhood memories, with veiled associations to alchemy combined with myth, magic, astrology, and witchcraft. The more convincing evidence of Ernst’s fascination with alchemy and its symbols can be found within his imagery.



Alchemy: Its History, Revival, and Symbolism

In order to explore Ernst’s alchemical imagery, the groundwork must be laid to discuss alchemical symbolism and the availability of alchemical texts and images to Ernst and other early-twentieth-century artists and writers. Alchemy is generally known as an archaic science concerned with the transformation of metals, or with the preparation of healing elixirs and potions taken to attain physical health and immortality. Outside of scholarly circles, less is known about its historical and philosophical development, a tradition revived in the late nineteenth century among the adepts of the occult revival. They inspired the first wave of popular texts on alchemy and other hermetic disciplines published in western Europe, and it is within this context that Ernst’s understanding of alchemical philosophy and imagery would arise. The history of alchemy extended back to ancient Egypt and to the legendary author Hermes Trismegistus, whose Emerald Tablet was the best known and most succinct expression of alchemical lore.1 The early philosophical writings, now compiled as the Corpus Hermeticum, were produced in Egypt over several centuries of Ptolemaic, Roman, and Byzantine rule.2 The multiple origins of alchemy, which pursued both physical transformation and spiritual enlightenment, created a duality of applications and goals as it developed throughout the ages. Alchemy’s laboratory operations originated in the ritual aspects of early metallurgy and combined the Egyptian belief in life after death with a Hel-


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism lenistic view of cosmic unity that was perpetuated through dynamic oppositions, such as day and night, male and female. The microcosmic-macrocosmic continuum between the earth and the heavens was overseen by the seven ancient planets that ruled over the seven alchemical metals—Mercury (quicksilver), Saturn (lead), Jupiter (tin), the moon (silver), Venus (copper), Mars (iron), and the sun (gold). According to Western alchemical theories, matter was composed of four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) combined within four states (hot, cold, dry, and moist). Primal Matter was unrefined base matter—a mysterious substance that contained all that was necessary to attain perfection. It consisted of two opposing male and female principles, Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury, that had to be separated, refined, and reunited. Finding Primal Matter was the alchemist’s first task, and with this substance the work began.3 Throughout the Middle Ages, ancient alchemy was both revered and reviled by Christian authors. Following the collapse of Rome, Jewish and Arab scholars and practitioners preserved its wisdom and developed new experimental processes to spark the genesis of early modern science.4 Early Greek, Latin, and Arab texts contained few illustrations except for some simple drawings of the vessels and symbols for the planets, metals, and basic processes. Alchemical illustration began to grow in manuscripts of the late Middle Ages. These images combined feudal and Christian symbolism derived from the coded language that had developed both to describe and to obscure the materials and operations of the work.5 Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury appeared as Adam and Eve, a King and a Queen, or the sun and the moon. Scenes of their romance symbolized the laboratory operations in which Primal Matter was destroyed and reborn to produce their child, the Philosopher’s Stone. During this period, Christ’s death and resurrection was also used as a symbolic parallel to these physical processes.6 During the later medieval period, dedicated philosophers and charlatans alike practiced alchemy. Alchemical philosophers understood alchemy as a spiritual path, a lifelong pursuit of self-knowledge and mystic enlightenment, to which the production of gold was secondary. The charlatans, often called “puffers” because of the bellows used to heat their furnaces, wanted only to obtain wealth and contributed to alchemy’s negative reputation as a vain pursuit of gold. Alchemical processes were employed to produce medicines, tinctures, perfumes, and other useful substances, while alchemy’s spiritual path was hidden in the enigmatic language and imagery


max er nst and alchemy of the manuscripts, and, according to some, in the sculptural programs of Gothic cathedrals.7 The Renaissance brought a renewed interest in ancient texts, newly translated by Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano Bruno,8 while authors such as Cornelius Agrippa sought to purge alchemy and medieval magic of their charlatans and to restore their clarity of purpose.9 Throughout the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, alchemy continued to flourish, although not without its critics.10 This period saw the codification of alchemical imagery in woodcuts and engravings by illustrators working mainly in central Germany.11 Subsequently, this emblematic canon would be recycled continuously to illustrate alchemical texts down to the present day. The illustrations in these printed books continued to be eclectic, reflecting the more complex styles of Renaissance and Baroque art. Classical gods and goddesses joined the repertory of religious and royal figures to represent the appropriate metals progressing from lead (Saturn) to gold (Apollo). These mythological figures inhabited landscape settings, and they interacted with symbolic animals and the archetypal King and Queen to represent the various materials and operations of the work. At the same time, alchemy was often parodied in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century prints and paintings, such as Pieter Bruegel’s Alchemist (Fig. 2.1), where a foolish alchemist sits in his disheveled laboratory, a symbol of human folly.12 On the left is an initiate experimenting with a cluttered array of alchemical vessels. In the center, the alchemist’s wife and a fool fan the fire with a bellows, an essential tool used to moderate heat that inspired the derogatory name “puffer” for the foolish alchemist. To the right, the alchemist directs his associates from his desk while studying several open manuscripts filled with arcane phrases and small symbols. Images like this one depicting the vain pursuit of gold were perhaps better known than authentic alchemical illustrations, which symbolically represented secrets revealed only to the true initiates of the art. During the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, hermeticism continued to thrive, in spite of mounting criticism and the rise of empirical science.13 Even in this era of rationalism, some of the most notable minds, such as Goethe and Newton, were influenced by their study of alchemical texts.14 As in the past, alchemy continued to be associated with mysticism, astrology, magic, and other hermetic paths. Related movements, such as Rosicrucianism, Swedenborgianism, and Illuminism, flourished and proved influential to


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism

Fig. 2.1. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Alchemist, engraving by Philip Galle and Hieronymus Cock, ca. 1558. Print Purchase Fund (Rosenwald Collection), Š 1994 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington (Bastelaer 1908 197.i/iii).

the Romantic movement.15 Still, these groups operated on the periphery, and alchemical texts remained largely in private collections among a handful of dedicated devotees. Historians of science, hermetic authors, and practicing alchemists all contributed to the reevaluation of alchemy during the nineteenth century. Among the scientists, a changing attitude toward alchemy can be observed in a French history of chemistry by Ferdinand Hoefer, ďŹ rst published in 1842 –1843.16 Returning to primary literature, Hoefer recognized the important contributions of alchemy to classical and medieval science, and he also discussed alchemical philosophy, a topic avoided by contemporary historians of science. He analyzed the experiments and conclusions of early alchemists as appropriate for the periods in which they lived, basing his assessments on a historiographic method rare for its time. German authors, such as Hermann Kopp and Ernst von Meyer, steeped in the positivism of


max er nst and alchemy the second half of the century, still dismissed alchemy as a misguided and ignorant practice, an “aberration” of chemistry, thus continuing the negative view of alchemy taken by earlier Enlightenment authors. While they begrudgingly acknowledged some of alchemy’s practical contributions, they were critical of its metaphysical aspects and repudiated writers like Ramón Lull and Basil Valentine, who had advanced its spiritual philosophy. Nineteenth-century historians of science and popular authors benefited from several new editions of ancient texts, including those discussed by the French chemist Marcellin Berthelot, whose books on the history of alchemy and translations of Greek, Arabic, and Syrian manuscripts remained standard works well into the twentieth century.17 His scholarly analyses were based on original manuscripts, but like most books on alchemy published in the nineteenth century, his contained few illustrations, including a few drawings of alchemical vessels and a page of Greek symbols indicating the basic metals and processes. At midcentury, the revival of alchemy was aided through the publication of several popular books breaking the traditional bonds of silence that prevented alchemical wisdom from falling into the hands of the uninitiated. The reluctance to reveal hermetic knowledge is best exemplified by the publication and recall of Mary Anne South Atwood’s Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery (1850). Atwood was a young English woman who wrote a scholarly account of alchemy after extensive study of her father’s library, a magnificent collection filled with hermetic manuscripts and books exploring the nature of the human soul. Her father, inspired by the recent Evangelical Revival and fearing that she had revealed too much of the secret knowledge, insisted that her book be recalled and destroyed in a conflagration on their lawn. Luckily, a few copies survived, and the book was subsequently reprinted.18 By the end of the century, the reluctance to reveal hermetic mysteries had evaporated, and several English authors published widely on hermetic topics, including Arthur Edward Waite, Pamela Colman Smith, Aleister Crowley, and other members of the Order of the Golden Dawn.19 One of the most significant midcentury books, Alchemy and the Alchemists (1857), was by the American Ethan Allen Hitchcock, who had possibly the largest library of alchemical literature in the United States at the time. Referring to recent publications by Hermann Kopp and Louis Figuier, Hitchcock concluded that neither had understood the true meaning of the alchemical work. Then he stated: “My proposition is, that the subject of alchemy was


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism Man; while the object was the perfection of Man, which was supposed to centre in a certain unity with the Divine nature.” 20 Interpreting alchemy primarily as a spiritual quest for purifying the self, Hitchcock’s analysis would become a building block upon which Herbert Silberer and Carl Jung would base their later psychoanalytic interpretations of alchemy. In France, the best-known hermetic writer at midcentury was Eliphas Lévi, who occasionally discussed alchemy in his prolific writings on magic and the cabala. He also reproduced a few alchemical illustrations.21 His subsequent influence on symbolist art and literature has been well documented.22 Louis Figuier aimed for a wider audience, collecting anecdotes of scientific marvels and curiosities. In L’Alchimie et les alchimistes (1854), he explained standard alchemical practices and summarized the lives of several famous alchemists, including Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist whose fame was most closely associated with the city of Paris.23 By the late nineteenth century in France, the occult revival was in full swing. The center of activity was Edmond Bailley’s bookshop, La Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, a gathering place for poets, writers, artists, and musicians, including Joris-Karl Huysmans, Jules Bois, Edouard Schuré, Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Felicien Rops, Henri de ToulouseLautrec, Odilon Redon, and Claude Debussy.24 Like the earlier Romantics, these artists and writers sought an alternative to the rationalism and materialism pervading everyday life. Joséphin Péladan organized Rosicrucian salons during the 1890s, encouraging many artists to explore hermetic themes in their work. This hermetic influence on French literature from Lautréamont to Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfred Jarry, and Raymond Roussel would reach its zenith within surrealism.25 Contributing to this ferment, the authors Papus [Gérard Encausse], Oswald Wirth, the Bibliophile Jacob [Paul Lacroix], R. Allendy, F.-Ch. Barlet, Stanislas de Guaïta, Paul Sédir, and A. de Rochas published an array of popular books with publishers specializing in hermetic topics, including Chacornac, Chamuel, Baillière, Editions de la Sirène, and Dorbon-aîné. For these authors, an interest in alchemy was one concern among many, and their books covered a wide range of subjects, including Rosicrucianism, natural magic, astrology, cabalism, theosophy, witchcraft, chiromancy, numerology, spiritualism, ancient regeneration myths, mystic religions, and the tarot. For example, the Bibliophile Jacob summarized alchemical philosophy and symbolism in his Curiosités des sciences occultes (1885), describing, but not illustrating,


max er nst and alchemy Nicolas Flamel’s famous engravings.26 In 1893 –1894, the periodical La Haute Science published articles on alchemy and cabalism, while other periodicals, L’Initiation, La Revue Spirite, Le Spiritisme, Journal du Magnétisme, Voile d’Isis, and La Lumière, continued an eclectic mix of popular occultism. Within this circle were several practicing alchemists who made essential contributions to the alchemical revival, although at the beginning their publications were written more for specialists in the laboratory than for the general public. Their leader was François Jollivet-Castelot, president of the Société Alchimique of France, an organization founded in collaboration with Papus, Stanislas de Guaïta, F. Ch. Barlet, Marc Haven, and Sédir.27 Their periodical, L’Hyperchimie (1896 –1901), directed by Jollivet-Castelot and published by Chamuel, contained formulas, explanations of alchemical procedures, and illustrations of chemical bonds. Gradually, its emphasis broadened to include articles on astrology and chiromancy. Advertisements in this journal recommended some “essential books,” also published by Chamuel and written by Jollivet-Castelot, Albert Poisson, Papus, August Strindberg, Dr. Marc Haven, M. Decrespe, H. Durville, and Sédir. Strindberg’s interest in laboratory experimentation was revealed in his published letters to Jollivet-Castelot.28 Jollivet-Castelot’s own publications spanned four decades, from the 1890s through the 1920s. In La Vie et l’âme de la matière (1892 –1893), he updated the alchemical premise of the unity of matter, comparing the evolutionary forces of atomic affinity and repulsion to the alchemical process. As modern scientists proved the existence of radioactive conversions, the transmutations of physical matter from one state to another became altogether plausible. To Jollivet-Castelot, attraction was a universal energy operating on both macrocosmic and microcosmic levels, guiding astral worlds, immense suns, and star systems as well as the lips of lovers. He also discussed his recent experiments, including his laboratory notes for turning silver into gold.29 In La Science alchimique au XXme siècle (1904), he summarized the history of alchemy from a technical point of view and provided a thorough bibliography of French sources published to date, again without any discussion of alchemical imagery.30 In 1920 Jollivet-Castelot published three alchemical novels.31 In the first, Au Carmel, he described the life of Thérèse, a young girl who suffered from hysteria and later became a Carmelite nun. At first reading, this novel might seem to be a rather straightforward account of a devout young girl and the


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism development of her religious vocation. In the accompanying novel, Destin, ou le fils d’Hermes, Jollivet-Castelot discussed the life of her brother, Gaston de Lambert. While Thérèse devoted her life to religion, Gaston became enamored with Egypt. Unlike in Au Carmel, the relationship between the plot and alchemical symbolism was explained in detail. Jollivet-Castelot’s third book, Natura mystica ou le jardin de la fée Viviane, was related to August Strindberg’s Sylva sylvarum. Viviane, the central character, was a nature goddess, who related the central key to the alchemical quest: “Yes, murmurs Viviane, the work of salvation is a work of love.” 32 In La Révolution chimique (1925), a collection of essays on alchemy, Georges Richet praised these novels and outlined the contributions of JollivetCastelot and his friends.33 Jollivet-Castelot’s own essay in this book reiterated the relationship between traditional alchemy and atomic theory. He praised the contributions of his colleagues and expressed his frustrations at being unable to have his experiments verified by the French Academy or by other scientists at the Sorbonne.34 In La Fabrication chimique de l’or (1928), he published the responses to his challenge, including letters from chemists in Lyons and Buenos Aires who agreed with the validity of his laboratory findings.35 These later publications were significant contributions to the discussion of alchemy in Paris in the 1920s. Jollivet-Castelot’s critique of academic scientists resonated with the surrealists’ skepticism of the scientific community. His novels, with their shared themes of hermetic enlightenment and salvation through love, suggested further parallels between alchemical and surrealist philosophies. This circle also contributed biographical studies of famous alchemists and published reproductions and explications of alchemical manuscripts. Marc Haven, a cofounder of the Société Alchimique, began his career in medical school. His doctoral thesis on the late-thirteenth-century alchemist Arnald of Villanova was published in 1896, followed by a book on the eighteenthcentury magician and alchemist Cagliostro.36 Albert Poisson was the prodigy among the group. Highly respected in spite of his youth, he was one of the most proficient alchemists until his untimely death at twenty-seven.37 By the age of twelve he was already buying manuscripts and may have discovered Rémi Pierre, a poor cobbler in the tradition of Jacob Böhme, whose library contained an impressive collection of alchemical manuscripts that he shared with members of Jollivet-Castelot’s circle. Eventually, because of Pierre’s impoverishment, most of his manu-


max er nst and alchemy scripts were sold to Guaïta and Papus, while Poisson’s own collection was bequeathed upon his death to Papus and Marc Haven.38 Poisson’s access to original manuscripts accounted for his most significant contribution to the alchemical revival—the publication of three texts, Cinq traités d’alchimie des plus grand philosophes (1890), Théories et symboles des alchimistes (1891), and Histoire de l’alchimie XIVme siècle (1893), all published by Chacornac. They included excerpts from rare manuscripts translated into French, accompanied by a thorough synthesis of alchemical theories and symbols and embellished with reproductions of the original illustrations. Until this time, few of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century alchemical woodcuts and engravings had been reproduced, either in the histories of science or in more popular texts.39 Poisson’s Théories et symboles des alchimistes was unique for its diversity of illustrations and for its thorough explications of alchemical symbolism. His illustrations were not arranged as a sequence of alchemical operations, but referred more generally to the codified cast of characters that represented the materials and operations of the work from the Renaissance onward. German authors made similar contributions to the alchemical revival and were aware of both French and English publications. Karl Kiesewetter was one of the most prolific German hermetic writers. His Geheimwissenschaften, although sparsely illustrated, contained a comprehensive history of alchemy, its philosophical tenets, and its major contributors, beginning with classical and Arab authors and continuing with a substantial litany of alchemical philosophers from the Western tradition.40 He discussed Albert the Great, Arnald of Villanova, and Ramón Lull, and devoted whole chapters to Basil Valentine and Paracelsus. In the chapter on nineteenth-century contributions, he summarized attempts by German and French chemists to transform metals, discussing the experiments and publications of Théodore Tiffereau, whose experiments were cited by Jollivet-Castelot, and Chevreul, a chemist better known for his color theories than for his alchemical experiments.41 He also mentioned Louis Figuier and Eliphas Lévi. The remaining sections of the book contained discussions of astrology, divination, witchcraft, demonology, magic, and spiritualist phenomena. Beginning in 1913 and continuing into the 1920s, the Berlin firm of Barsdorf published numerous books on various aspects of hermeticism, including studies devoted to alchemy, magic, the cabala, Rosicrucianism, and Free-


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism masonry. As in France, new translations of alchemical texts appeared, such as Cornelius Agrippa’s Magische Werk and the works of Geber.42 As a result of these many publications, the alchemical revival touched a number of disciplines, including early psychiatry. Late-nineteenth-century theories of perception were influenced by the hermetic theories, and into the 1920s authors drew connections between contemporary psychology and paranormal behavior and phenomena.43 For example, in La Magie et la sorcellerie en France, Thomas de Cauzons ended his four-volume history of French occultism with a discussion of “contemporary magic,” tracing the history of hermetic psychological theory from Mesmer’s magnetism to Pierre Janet’s studies of nervous disorders, including discussions of hypnotism, hysteria, dream analysis, automatic writing, and spiritualism.44 Regularly used as textbooks in the French medical curriculum, Janet’s own publications were read by several of the founders of surrealism, including André Breton.45 The most important author in this regard was Herbert Silberer, a Viennese psychoanalyst who also drew parallels between alchemy and psychology. In his book Probleme der Mystik und Ihrer Symbolik, he recounted an alchemical legend, explained highlights of its enigmatic symbolism, and then compared its narrative details and those of other mythological stories and fairy tales to contemporary psychoanalytic theory, citing the works of Freud, Otto Rank, C. G. Jung, and others.46 Silberer incorporated the colorful alchemical language and bizarre events to relate the myth, but his equation between alchemy and human psychological development was his most profoundly original contribution to the development of alchemical philosophy in the twentieth century. The alchemical legend related by Silberer titled “Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer aus dem 16ten und 17ten Jahrhundert” had appeared in a Rosicrucian text published at Altona about 1785 –1790.47 As the story opens, the narrator encounters a group of philosophers who encourage him to take a journey of discovery and enlightenment. The wanderer learns that he must kill an old ferocious lion, which he does by stripping the animal to its blood and bones. Later, the philosophers reveal that his ultimate task is to bring the lion back to life. This legend contains a synthesis of the basic alchemical symbolism, which Silberer explained, offering examples of the various terms and symbols from other alchemical texts. The wanderer is an alchemist who must find a lion, a symbol of Primal Matter, or materia prima, to begin the


max er nst and alchemy work. Its blood and bones, associated with the colors red and white, refer to the masculine and feminine components of Primal Matter—Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury—that must be purified in the laboratory. A young man and woman represent these substances, and their romance, death, and resurrection conclude the tale. Silberer was concerned only marginally with the physical interpretations of alchemical symbolism. He focused instead on the various interpretive systems used to analyze the story and explored the multiple levels on which the myth could be interpreted, namely the chemical, the anagogical, and the psychological. On the most basic physical plane, the alchemist had to decipher these symbolic characters and events as hidden references to chemical substances and laboratory operations. For the anagogical interpretation, Silberer credited the American writer Ethan Allen Hitchcock as one of the first modern authors to uncover the deeper truth hidden within many alchemical manuscripts—that alchemy was a path of spiritual enlightenment. Hitchcock’s Remarks upon Alchemy and the Alchemists (1857) had clarified that the true subject of the alchemical process was the alchemist, who by engaging in the work begins a process of self-perfection: The work of the alchemist was one of contemplation and not a work of the hands. Their alembic, furnace, cucurbit, retort, philosophical egg, etc., etc., in which the work of fermentation, distillation, extraction of essences and spirits and the preparation of salts is said to have taken place was Man,—yourself, friendly reader,— and if you will take yourself into your own study and be candid and honest, acknowledging no other guide or authority but Truth, you may easily discover something of hermetic philosophy.48 Silberer then took his analogy further. If traditional alchemy offered a hidden path of self-realization, then it could be compared to an individual’s development toward psychological maturity. The enigmatic language of this myth and its illogical sequence of events shared many similarities with the discontinuity of the dream world, in which, as Freud had shown in his dream analysis, strange objects and events were cleverly disguised indicators of psychological repression. Freud, Jung, and others had applied psychoanalytic theory to the analysis of ancient myths and folklore, although Silberer was


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism the first to attempt a psychoanalytic interpretation of alchemy. Later in the century, this equation would become central to Jungian theory. The occult revival had established the groundwork for discussions of alchemy and other hermetic topics, often bridging national boundaries, that continued into the twentieth century.49 In Entstehung und Ausbreitung der Alchimie (1919), Edmund O. von Lippmann summarized recent alchemical activity, citing the works of Berthelot, Figuier, Jacob, Poisson, Jollivet-Castelot, Kopp, Silberer, and Waite.50 Historians of science took a new attitude toward alchemy, and many drew connections to recent scientific discoveries, comparing alchemical transmutation to atomic theory, radioactivity and nuclear conversion, the production of synthetic diamonds, Crookes tubes, and electroplating.51 The philosophical overviews and biographies of famous alchemists also continued to proliferate.52 In 1920, Le Voile d’Isis, a periodical founded by Papus and Jollivet-Castelot in the 1890s, celebrated its twenty-fifth year. In this anniversary issue, Dr. René Allendy summed up the relevance of occultism in the decade following the First World War: Today, occultism is no longer what it formerly was for a superficial and skeptical generation. Since the war [which forced human consciousness to face the problem of death], it has become our familiar domain. . . . That is to say that everyone wants to pierce the mystery, to lift the veil, to penetrate the Occult. It is why occultism has come to live in the hearts of a great number of people.53 Jollivet-Castelot’s alchemical experiments sparked a lively debate during the 1920s, and other members of his circle, including Papus and Oswald Wirth, continued to write on a variety of hermetic topics into the 1920s and 1930s.54 The availability of recent publications and treasures for the hermetic bibliophile was unprecedented.55 Curiously, with the exception of the books of Albert Poisson, very few works were illustrated, and most studies of alchemy contained only a few reproductions of traditional manuscript illuminations or prints. Even Silberer, despite many quotations from alchemical manuscripts, reproduced only three images. Giovanni Carbonelli’s Sulle fonti storiche della chimica e dell’alchimia in Italia (1925) was one of the first books to explore alchemy’s visual tradition. It contained reproductions of manu-


max er nst and alchemy script illuminations of operations and phases of the work—for example, the appearance of the Queen and King within the alembic vessel as white and red roses.56 In France, alchemical images and symbolism became more accessible with the publications of Fulcanelli and Grillot de Givry in the late 1920s. A great deal of speculation surrounded Fulcanelli’s true identity.57 His name was an alchemical pseudonym constructed from the names “Vulcan” and “Helios”—a combination of fire and the sun. In 1926, Fulcanelli published Le Mystère des cathédrales, a significant study that undoubtedly fueled the surrealists’ explorations into alchemy.58 The preface was written by Fulcanelli’s student Eugène Canseliet, who claimed that his master, before disappearing, had entrusted the manuscript to him with instructions to publish it. Canseliet, who also wrote the preface to Fulcanelli’s second book, Les Demeures philosophales (1930),59 remained one of France’s most eminent practicing alchemists until his death in 1982. Fulcanelli interpreted hermetic symbolism through linguistic associations, citing numerous examples of medieval sculpture still visible in Paris and surrounding areas that contained hidden alchemical symbolism. His first book was illustrated with photographs of sculptural details from the central portal of Notre Dame in Paris, Amiens Cathedral, and the house of Jacques Coeur in Bourges. He also stressed the importance of examining alchemical manuscripts, describing illustrations in a copy of a manuscript owned by Nicolas Flamel.60 Grillot de Givry’s Le Musée des sorciers, mages et alchimistes (1929) discussed witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy, astrology, the tarot and other divinatory arts, talismans, and rhabdomancy.61 The book was generously illustrated with prints and paintings by Lucas Cranach, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Bosch, Callot, David Teniers, Dürer, Hans Baldung Grien, Goya, and Rembrandt, and with anonymous prints, drawings, and other occult illustrations. The last three chapters were devoted to alchemy, illustrated with manuscript illuminations and engravings. One page (Fig. 2.2) illustrated a point first made by Fulcanelli concerning the sculpture of St. Marcel on the portal of Notre Dame Cathedral. St. Marcel was an early bishop of Paris who had saved a young woman by killing a dragon. The original sculpture illustrated on the left in the Cluny Museum depicted St. Marcel with his staff killing a dragon as it emerges from her dead body below, an action interpreted as the destruction of Primal Matter. Fulcanelli had complained that the nineteenth-


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism

Fig. 2.2. Two versions of “St. Marcel,” in the Cluny Museum and on the portal of Notre Dame in Paris. In the center, Basil Valentine’s Synthesis of the Work from his Twelve Keys. Reproduced from Emile Angelo Grillot de Givry, Le Musée des sorciers, mages et alchimistes (Paris: Librairie de France, 1929), 407.

century restoration on the right distanced the staff from the dragon, thereby obscuring its alchemical symbolism. Like Fulcanelli, Grillot de Givry explained the alchemical symbolism of this myth as it related to the city of Paris. The illustration in the center of Figure 2.2 is a hermetic diagram from Basil Valentine, depicting a man superimposed with a geometric pattern that


max er nst and alchemy represents a total synthesis of the alchemical work. The seven smaller circles contain birds, a unicorn, and a young child who emerges from a coffin. They represent the operations of the work and the appearance of the Philosopher’s Stone at the culmination of the work. The points of the star in the center contain symbols of the seven planets. Additional symbols for the sun, the moon, and the earth are found at the corners of the underlying triangle, while symbols for the four elements are placed at the outer edges of the rectangular frame. This book was a rich source of alchemical imagery from manuscripts, printed books, and sculptural monuments. Clearly, the alchemical revival was thriving in 1929, when in the Second Manifesto André Breton claimed an analogy of goals between the surrealists and the medieval alchemists. Breton’s interest in alchemy, and that of the movement as a whole, was nourished by the sustained power of the occult revival. The publications of Fulcanelli and Grillot de Givry encouraged the surrealists’ serious study of original alchemical imagery. During the second half of the twentieth century, Carl Jung was pivotal in reviving the study of alchemy.62 His initial interest developed in 1928 when Richard Wilhelm gave him a copy of a book on Chinese alchemy, The Mystery of the Golden Flower, for which he later wrote the introduction to a reprint edition. In the early 1930s he delivered lectures on alchemy and psychology at Eranos, and he published his Psychology and Alchemy in 1944.63 Jung’s name appeared in surrealist publications in the 1930s, most notably Tristan Tzara’s “Essai sur la situation de la poésie,” which drew on Jung’s notion of “directed” and “non-directed” thought.64 Nevertheless, the surrealist group as a whole indicated little interest in Jung, and most of their references to his work were sharply critical. Jung’s support for Nazism was certainly a factor here, for the surrealists were resolutely antifascist. Their rejection of Jung, however, seems to have been primarily the result of their study of psychoanalytic theory. The surrealist movement generally tended to uphold what they regarded as a rigorous Freudianism, and to oppose the many “revisionist” currents. Nicolas Calas’s Foyers d’incendie, a book highly recommended by Breton, included a strong polemic against Jung’s ideas, and specifically criticized Tzara’s aforementioned article.65 Some alchemical historians have criticized Jung’s psychoanalytic interpretations, but his influence and the profuse writings of his followers still dominate the study of alchemy in today’s New Age movement.


alchemy: its history, revival, and symbolism The surrealists’ interest in alchemy grew in the decades that followed. Kurt Seligmann’s The Mirror of Magic (1948) explored the mysteries of the ancient world— Gnosticism, alchemy, magic, witchcraft, the cabala, Rosicrucianism, and the tarot—and was embellished with traditional hermetic imagery.66 In the unsettled climate of postwar Europe, hermetic philosophy enjoyed another revival, mirroring that of the 1920s. Several new publications on alchemy appeared, some influenced by Carl Jung’s recent comparisons between psychology and alchemy, while others continued in the more traditional vein established by the late-nineteenth-century occult revival.67 In the early 1950s, Breton became friends with René Alleau, the current president of the Société Alchimique of France.68 He also developed a cordial relationship with Fulcanelli’s disciple Eugène Canseliet, who found Breton’s interpretations of alchemy generally to be quite accurate. Conversely, Canseliet criticized some aspects of the writings of other authors, including Gaston Bachelard, René Guénon, and Carl Jung.69 Breton’s later publications, including L’Amour fou (1937), Arcane 17 (1944 and 1945), La Clé des champs (1953), and L’Art magique (1957), are his most hermetic, reflecting his expanded study of alchemical manuscripts.70 He turned his attention to a group of younger writers and artists who continued to explore new paths of hermetic philosophy, as evidenced in articles in the periodicals Medium and le surréalisme, même, which included alchemical illustrations.71 The occult revival, and its associated popularization of alchemy, profoundly affected the development of surrealism. Max Ernst and the surrealists were drawn to alchemy through its psychoanalytic parallels, and through the visual appeal of its bizarre and enigmatic imagery. Ernst’s earliest explorations of alchemical imagery, created during his Cologne Dada years, reveal his debt to Silberer’s Probleme der Mystik und Ihrer Symbolik. Other surrealists were inspired by French psychoanalytical studies of psychic phenomena and paranormal behavior, and Ernst’s arrival in Paris in 1922 helped to fuel their experiments with hermetic “games” as an avenue of profound exploration into alternate routes to the unknown. The publications of Fulcanelli and Grillot de Givry in the mid- to late 1920s provided them with additional information and visual imagery to adapt to their own purposes. Ernst’s journey down this hermetic path will be explored through his words and imagery in the chapters that follow.


(1906 –1914) Excursions in the world of marvels, chimeras, phantoms, poets, monsters, philosophers, birds, women, lunatics, magi, trees, eroticism, stones, insects, mountains, poisons, mathematics and so on. (1914) Max Ernst died the 1st of August 1914. He resuscitated the 11th of November 1918 as a young man aspiring to become a magician and to find the myth of his time. . . .1



Max’s school years enriched his body, mind, and spirit.2 From 1898 to 1910, he attended the Volksschule and the Gymnasium in Brühl, where he excelled without great effort, leaving hours to explore nature and the imagination. He read passionately, and his literary choices were varied and extensive, including fictional accounts of the American west by Karl May and James Fenimore Cooper; the fantastic voyages of Jules Verne; fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm; the poetry of Gustave Flaubert; and the tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Lewis Carroll.3 In his final years at the Gymnasium he was drawn above all to the Romantics—Hölderlin, Novalis, Arnim, Jean-Paul, Brentano, Hoffmann, Goethe, and Rousseau—and to the Romantic mystical tradition, which elevated the artist to the role of seer. He read Dostoyevsky and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and he especially relished books forbidden by the Catholic Church, such as Schlegel’s Lucinde and the sexual essays of Otto Weininger. Max Stirner’s Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (The Ego and Its Own) long remained one of his favorites, resonating with his own quest for personal independence and igniting his political libertarianism. His love of art was also sparked and cultivated from an early age. His first memories were of his father painting, and in spite of his distaste for his father’s style, Philipp was Max’s earliest role model for choosing a career in painting. From the age of six, he accompanied his father to local museums to look at art of the past.4 In 1906, he biked alone through the Rhineland,


initiation Alsace, the Palatinate, and Westphalia, sketching along the way.5 He visited museums in Holland and was fascinated there by Vermeer’s View of Delft, finding its handling of light indefinably mysterious. Around this same time, at the age of fourteen or fifteen, he was struck by a reproduction of a Cézanne still life of apples and asked his father’s opinion. Not surprisingly, Philipp detested this type of painting, but already Max’s eye was developing independently of his father’s counsel. He was drawn to the avant-garde and would soon seek out friends to lead him further in that direction. Ernst entered the University of Bonn on April 20, 1910, just in time for the summer semester.6 His parents wanted him to pursue a practical career, like law, but Max had other plans. Avoiding “any studies which might degenerate into breadwinning,” 7 he selected courses instead to satisfy his intellectual curiosity. While he did not follow a prescribed program, he focused his studies on the fields of philosophy, philology, and art history. His record from the Gymnasium indicates that he did well in four languages— Greek, Latin, English, and French. His philology courses at the university enabled him to continue reading German and French literature—maintaining his love of the Romantics and acquiring a taste for the French Symbolists. Later, he would use his facility with languages to invent fanciful bilingual titles for his Dada collages. His college years enabled him to follow what he called “futile pursuits: reading seditious philosophers and unorthodox poetry. . . .” 8 Philosophy was an early and persistent focal point. Ernst and his friends were drawn to the writings of Hegel, Husserl, and Nietzsche. Above all, Ernst was fascinated by the workings of the mind, which led him to enroll in several psychoanalytic courses, including ones in abnormal, criminal, and experimental psychology, offered through the philosophy department. Many of his professors were active local professionals well acquainted with the latest theories, although Ernst first encountered the theories of Sigmund Freud through one of his college friends, Karl Otten, who had recently studied with Freud in Vienna.9 Otten shared Freud’s most recent publications, which Ernst read avidly. He analyzed his own personality in Freudian terms and soon began to incorporate Freudian symbols in his works. While enrolled in a course offering practical training at a local sanitarium under the auspices of the University of Bonn, Ernst was amazed by paintings and bread-dough sculptures created by the patients. He found these works strangely alive and disturbing, and he intended to write a book about the art of the mentally ill, an effort thwarted by the outbreak of the


max er nst and alchemy First World War. Later, in 1922, Hans Prinzhorn (1886 –1933) published an excellent study of this material, Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Images of the Mentally Ill ),10 which Ernst brought as a gift for Paul Eluard when he moved to Paris. While Ernst would later claim in the View essay that his first contact with “occult, magic and witchcraft powers” occurred with the birth of his sister Loni, his initial exposure to hermetic philosophy probably occurred at the university. In the summer semester of 1912, Ernst studied psychology with Professor Oswald Külpe. Külpe was especially interested in contemporary theories and was instrumental in organizing lectures on current trends. One of Külpe’s students, Dr. phil. Rudolf Feilgenhauer, a Cologne occultist, offered a colloquium called the “Außenseiter.”11 Ernst could have attended this colloquium informally, and Külpe may have urged him to do so. The exact scope of the colloquium is not known, but it can be assumed that Feilgenhauer linked occult phenomena, parapsychology, and psychiatry. While the evidence of Ernst’s early exposure to hermeticism remains sketchy, it is important to recognize the overlapping nature of philosophy, psychiatry, and hermetic studies during the years when Ernst first began to explore these fields. Another emphasis in Ernst’s university studies was the history of art. Courses on the art of Cologne and the Rhineland led him back to local museums and churches to explore Cologne’s rich Roman and Christian past. He reacquainted himself with the German Renaissance and Romantic masters as well as the more bizarre tradition of witchcraft imagery.12 A course on Northern Baroque painting must have been reminiscent of his earlier bike trip. He read Leonardo’s famous “Treatise on Painting” in an Italian Renaissance course and later quoted Leonardo’s advice to artists as a model for his own method of inspiration and “invention” of frottage.13 Courses in nineteenth-century French painting and German painting from 1850 exposed him to early modern art. Ernst took only one studio course, “Drawing and Modeling after Nature and the Antique,” from an academician whose work he detested. Ernst followed these studies diligently, for his name appeared often in the registry for the Art History Institute and its library, where it frequently joined the name of Luise Straus, a young woman from Cologne who came to Bonn to study art history, archaeology, and history.14 They met in November 1912 and may have traveled together during a class visit to Rodin’s studio in Meudon in 1913.15 By the time Ernst left for the front in the sum-


initiation mer of 1914 their relationship was intimate, and before the end of the war they would marry. Little remains of his sketchbooks of this period, which so impressed Franz Balke, a fellow art history student who became Ernst’s first collector.16 There are caricatures of professors, sketches made during nights on the town, and landscapes of the countryside. Despite his studies of the “Old Masters,” no evidence remains that he copied their works. Balke and Ernst talked of the Belgian-Dutch “mystics,” Khnopff, Toorop, and Thorn-Prikker, but Max’s art reflected more directly the influence of the post-Impressionists he admired—van Gogh, Gauguin, and Seurat.17 Throughout his college years, numerous exhibitions in Cologne and Bonn exposed Ernst to the latest avant-garde painting in Europe, and he rapidly absorbed a synthesis of influences, including fauvism, cubism, and futurism. During this fertile period, his appreciation for contemporary art was enriched by his friendship with August Macke. They met in 1911 when Macke was living in Bonn. Although Ernst recognized the differences in their artistic spirits, he was drawn to Macke for his intelligence, generosity, and enthusiasm. Through Macke, Ernst joined in the activities of the group Das Junge Rheinland.18 Probably the most important event was the Sonderbund exhibition, which Macke helped to organize, held in Cologne from May to October 1912, which included works by van Gogh, Cézanne, Munch, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Klee among many others. Ernst first exhibited his own works in July 1913 at the Cohen Gallery in Bonn, and later, in October 1913, at the Deutschen Herbstsalon in the Der Sturm gallery in Berlin. His first contact with the French avant-garde occurred in January 1913, when Robert Delaunay and Guillaume Apollinaire came to Bonn to see Macke. He was most impressed by the keen mind of Apollinaire, whose exuberance was infectious, and he decided to visit Paris. The third week of August that same year, Ernst arrived in Paris and stayed at the Hôtel des Ducs de Bourgogne on the rue du Pont-Neuf. Too shy to use the letters of introduction that Macke had given him to see Delaunay and Apollinaire again, or to seek out Picasso, whose work he greatly admired,19 Ernst explored Paris on his own. The only artist he met was Jules Pascin, “the last Bohemian,” at a café in Montparnasse. Whether by chance or intentionally, the location of his hotel put him close to the alchemical heart of Paris. A map of Les Halles district in the early 1920s (Fig. 4.19) indicates several of the alchemical sites that Ernst explored, including the Tour Saint


max er nst and alchemy Jacques near the rue Nicolas Flamel, named after Paris’s most famous alchemist, and the remains of Flamel’s Church of the Innocents, destroyed during the French Revolution, where Flamel’s alchemical hieroglyphs had been carved originally. Ernst’s visits to these alchemical sites amid his other wanderings around the city help document his early interest in alchemy, for these pilgrimages anticipated by more than a decade surrealist walking tours of these same sites.20 Because Ernst’s funds were limited, he stayed only a month, but Paris had left an indelible mark on his spirit, and he vowed to return. The following year at the Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne in May 1914, Ernst overheard a young man, Hans Arp, trying in vain to explain modern art to an elderly gentleman. The gentleman adamantly refused to be convinced of its value and stormed out of the gallery after Arp insulted him. Ernst was delighted by the entire exchange and introduced himself. Arp’s “spiritual” countenance and his eloquent defense of his own drawings drew Ernst immediately. Arp realized that he had seen and admired Ernst’s works the previous autumn at the Herbst Salon. Closely drawn together by their mutual interest in modern art, Ernst and Arp shared many literary interests as well. With a handshake they sealed a pact of friendship that would last throughout their lives.21 Throughout that spring and early summer, Ernst, with Arp and other friends, “haunted” the woods around Bonn, exploring the more mythical and legendary sites of the area, including “the Mount of Venus, dear to Tannhäuser, the Seven Hills of Snow White and the Dwarfs, Rolandseck where Charlemagne had heard the desperate call of Roncevaux, the Drachenfels steeped in the blood of the dragon, and the bridge from Bonn to Beuel, where Apollinaire met the Wandering Jew.” 22 The sites he explored with Arp and his Rhenish friends were more mythic than occult, but their ventures demonstrate that at the beginning of their friendship these two young artists were drawn to the world of myth. Considering the wealth of art and ideas to which Ernst was exposed at the university, it is somewhat surprising that his early works recorded rather ordinary aspects of daily life, particularly considering the imaginative force he would bring to his later art. Ernst recalled the chaos in his brain erupting during his university years, for which his only cure was persistent painting.23 He absorbed a rapidly changing kaleidoscope of new artistic styles in his art, but the subjects he selected before the war were mostly portraits, landscapes, and genre themes. One exception was a series of linocuts from 1911–1912 that


initiation portrayed the mythic legends of the Rhine, forecasting his explorations of these sites two years later with Arp. One of these prints, Siegfried the Dragon Killer (S/L 3), was based on the Nibelungenlied legend, in which Siegfried killed a dragon and then bathed in its blood to toughen his skin so that no weapon could penetrate it.24 Stylistically infusing his work with a flattened and lyric Art Nouveau sensibility, Ernst was experimenting with many styles during the prewar years. By the end of the summer of 1914, Arp, realizing that the war was imminent, urged Ernst to flee with him to Switzerland. To his later regret, Ernst chose to stay behind and was soon inducted into the German artillery. Early in the war, a young colonel recognized his artistic talents and assigned him to a division to work as a cartographer, providing an opportunity to paint in a studio near his military office. Although Ernst later destroyed most of the works of the war years, he described them as containing plant and animal subjects similar to those of his later frottage series, Histoire naturelle, of the mid-1920s. The few works extant from the war years depict animal battles and show an influence of futurism infused with the destructive realities of war around him. Soon after the war began, during a twenty-four-hour leave, Ernst visited another college friend, Franz Henseler.25 Henseler was an excitable and overwrought young man who regularly communicated with the spirit world, specifically by speaking to a spirit named Macchab. On this visit, Ernst and Henseler engaged in an impromptu séance, asking the spirit what had become of Macke. Swayed by his futurist-influenced enthusiasm for the cataclysmic potential of war, Macke had enlisted early in the German army. Neither Ernst nor Henseler had heard from him since his departure for the front. Macchab responded with the shocking news that Macke was dead. This tragic presentiment, unknown even to Macke’s wife at the time, turned out to be true. Macke had fallen during one of the very first battles. On another occasion, Ernst and Henseler asked the spirit Macchab about a young poet, George Heym, who had died in a skating accident. When Macchab revealed that unpublished poems by Heym could be resurrected, Henseler served as a medium and received two hours of automatic dictation. Although no evidence of these poems remains, Ernst later insisted that their quality matched that of poems written by Heym. On other occasions, Macchab revealed his more threatening side by attacking another young poet, Walter Rainer, with a footstool moved psychokinetically during


max er nst and alchemy a séance. Macchab often tormented Henseler during the night, threatening him with death. Soon after the revelation of Macke’s death, one particularly harrowing attack left Henseler completely unnerved, and he was committed to an asylum near Bonn, where he died three weeks later, on April 15, 1918, as if this malevolent spirit actually had taken his soul. Whatever the cause of Henseler’s troubles, his séances and automatic writings with Ernst preceded by several years similar experiments conducted by the surrealists during the mouvement flou (Aragon’s term for the period in 1922 –1923 when Dada was transforming into surrealism). Ernst said little about the remainder of his war years except that he was both disgusted and bored. He was sent to the swamps of Poland, where he suffered two head wounds, one from the recoil of a gun and another from the kick of a mule. For these wounds he was awarded an Iron Cross, which he emphatically refused to wear. Although his war years were desolate, the end of the war brought renewed energies and a determination to devote himself to his art, “aspiring to become a magician and to find the myth of his time.” 26 After demobilization, Ernst returned to Cologne. He and Lou had been married on October 7, 1918, just before the Armistice. They took a top-floor apartment on the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring, and their home soon became the focal point of Cologne Dada activities.27 During the war, Lou had begun her career as a journalist, writing art and theater criticism part-time for several German newspapers while continuing to work at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum.28 The most important catalyst and financial supporter of Cologne Dada was Alfred F. Gruenwald, who took the pseudonym Johannes Theodor Baargeld.29 Baargeld had briefly studied at Oxford, but returned to the University of Bonn during the winter and summer semesters of 1913 –1914. Like Ernst, he served in the military during the war. It is not known exactly when they met, but they collaborated on the first issue of their satirical and political weekly, Der Ventilator, distributed in February 1919 at factory gates in Cologne.30 Baargeld came from a rich and conservative family, and his revolt from that world took the form of revolutionary political activism. He was a member of the radical Unabhängigen Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands (Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany) and was largely responsible for infusing politics into Cologne Dada activities. In spite of Baargeld’s enthusiasm, politics was never as central to Cologne Dada as it was to Berlin Dada, largely because of the British occupation. In Der Ventilator, the name of the spirit “Macchab” reappears, first in the


initiation titles of three essays and later as a pseudonym for an anonymous author.31 In the first article, “???Macchab in Cöln???,” the spirit reportedly delivered accounts of fantastic apparitions in Africa and other Dada nonsense by rapping messages onto the windows of news bureaus in Cologne.32 This method of communication from the spirit world, knocking or rapping, appeared first in the mid-nineteenth-century United States, where it led to the foundation of the spiritualist movement. Macchab’s method of communication in Der Ventilator was more occult than his message. In the second essay, “Macchab ‘intime,’” Macchab was overheard giving advice. Here too, the spirit was merely used as a mouthpiece for a Dada pronouncement. Ernst probably wrote these essays, although authorship is difficult to verify since Cologne Dada activities were generally collaborative and anonymous. Whoever authored these pieces, Ernst surely provided the name of the spirit he and Henseler had conjured up in their earlier séances. In August 1919, Baargeld, who was an enthusiastic alpinist, took Max and Lou on a mountain-climbing trip in the Königsee region. On their way home in September they stopped in Munich, where they visited Goltz’s bookshop, saw works by Paul Klee, and went to visit Klee. While at the bookshop, Max leafed through an issue of the Italian periodical Valori plastici and first encountered reproductions of the “metaphysical paintings” of Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà.33 Also during the Munich trip, Ernst and Lou spent several hours at a café talking with Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings, who had cofounded the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.34 Through them, Ernst discovered that Arp was alive and had participated in Dada activities throughout the war. The two friends were soon in communication by mail. During the fall, Ernst transformed his imagery, aided by the availability of Dada publications from Zurich, Berlin, and Paris. His earliest Dada works combined imagery from printers’ stamps and blocks, over which he made his first “rubbings,” forecasting his frottages of the mid-1920s. Several of these stamped and rubbed collages have been interpreted as couples with explicit sexual parts.35 Mechanical imagery similar to the futile machines of the Dada works of Picabia and Duchamp replaced his futuristic battle scenes. His series of lithographs in late 1919, Fiat modes, pereat ars, was a tribute to de Chirico, and much of his imagery and the spatial organization of works continuing into the early 1920s can be directly traced to his influence. Before the year ended, Ernst’s apocryphal moment, “One rainy day in 1919, finding myself in a village (Cologne) on the Rhine,” occurred at a


max er nst and alchemy printer’s shop while he was waiting for a job to be finished. Ernst was leafing through a catalog and was suddenly struck by its illustrations: anthropologic, microscopic, psychological, mineralogical and paleontological demonstration. I found there joined together elements of figuration so remote that the sheer absurdity of this assemblage provoked an acute intensification of my visionary faculties and brought forth a hallucinatory succession of contradictory images, double, triple and multiple images superimposed one over the other with the persistence and rapidity which belong to amorous memories and visions of half-sleep.36 The discovery of this catalog, the Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog, influenced his imagery and his working methods profoundly.37 Pieces from the catalog were clipped to create parts in his first collages. Then entire plates were used, painted over and drawn upon to disguise the original source. To date, more than eighty of the approximately 145 Dada works have been identified as appropriations from this catalog, with at least twenty-six of Ernst’s known “overpaintings” based on full plates. Ernst’s use of preexisting imagery was well known to his colleagues. Nevertheless, a great scandal erupted in the German newspapers when a schoolboy noticed in 1954 that Winter Landscape (Fig. 3.2) was based on a chemical chart diagramming the production of nitrogen and nitrous oxide (Fig. 3.3).38 The popular press criticized Ernst’s “plagiarism” and attempted to expose him as a charlatan, which undoubtedly amused Ernst and his admirers. Often, Ernst turned the original page upside down, as he did with Winter Landscape, and then painted over parts of the original image that he wanted to conceal.39 Gouache and pencil produced new spatial environments for the parts retained, while he articulated the space with perspectival lines, creating slanting floorboards and distant horizons reminiscent of de Chirico. He also lifted partial phrases from the original captions as parts of his poetic titles. The Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog provided an abundant supply of illustrations to pilfer, while its disparate imagery sparked Ernst’s new creative methods. He primarily chose plates containing botanical diagrams, zoological curiosities, human anatomical parts, and laboratory equipment. The resulting collages and overpaintings continued his preoccupation with mechanical constructions, while others became imaginary landscapes and figural com-


initiation positions, laying the foundations for imagery that would recur throughout his career. As with his earlier stamped and rubbed collages, many of these works dealt with sexuality.40 The sexual allusions in these collages and overpaintings revealed Ernst’s incorporation of Freudian symbolism, reinforced by the biological parallels to his own impending fatherhood. In several collages, references to flying were made by the addition of airplanes and airplane parts. Ernst took these source illustrations from books on warfare aviation, revealing the continuing impact of his wartime experiences.41 As a result of Ernst’s visual discoveries, the Cologne Dada years of 1919– 1921 were incredibly productive, with two early exhibitions contributing to his developing notoriety. The first was the “Bulletin D” exhibition, or “Dada Early Spring,” held in November 1919 in Cologne, later traveling to Düsseldorf.42 In Cologne, this exhibition took place at the Kunstverein, where a separate room was provided for the Dada artists with their outrageous creations at the insistence of the members of the Gesellschaft der Künste (Art Society). British military authorities confiscated the catalog for the show, Bulletin D. The second exhibition was held at the Brauhaus Winter brewery in April 1920. Viewers entered the exhibition through the men’s bathroom, where a young girl in a white communion dress read obscene poetry. The scandal surrounding this exhibition, with police accusations of pornography and fraud, led to a stern letter from Philipp Ernst rebuking and disowning his son: “I curse you; you have dishonored our name.” 43 Max never again spoke to his father, a rupture that undoubtedly led to his preoccupation with Freudian Oedipal symbolism from the early 1920s. By early 1920, Arp reappeared in Cologne. He cofounded the Dada Zentrale W/3 (Weststupidien 3) group with Ernst and Baargeld and participated in Cologne Dada activities and publications. Ernst was happily reunited with the friend whose intellectual and creative instincts so closely paralleled his own. Their collaborations during this period were extensive and have been well documented.44 Paraphrases from Arp’s poetry were woven throughout Ernst’s writings of this period, and their coauthored FaTaGaGa collages (Fabrication de Tableaux Gasométriques Garantis) were constructed in large part by Ernst, with Arp adding the poetic captions and titles. Several of the FaTaGaGa collages fused human figures and birds, images explained by Freudian dream theory and by Ernst’s conflated childhood memory of the death of his pet cockatoo and the birth of his sister Loni.45 Around this same time, beginning in 1920, alchemical imagery began to


max er nst and alchemy appear in Ernst’s works, including Winter Landscape (Fig. 3.2), Dada Gauguin (Fig. 3.4), and Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Fig. 3.6), works to be analyzed presently.46 Why this moment for the blossoming of his alchemical imagery? Arp’s recent arrival provides one possible answer, for his own hermetic interests had been evident in Zurich. Some doubts have been raised about Dada attitudes toward hermeticism because of its close association to the Expressionist movement, which the Dadaists had rejected.47 Still, Zurich Dada had its mystical side. One of its mainstays, Hugo Ball, had been studying mysticism since his arrival in Switzerland in 1915.48 In 1919, the year he met Ernst in Munich, Ball began his research for a mystical novel, Byzantinisches Christentum, partially based on the life of Dionysius the Areopagite, a sixth-century mystic saint and Neoplatonist. In a diary entry recalling the Dada years, Ball expressed his interest in the “alchemy of letters and words,” referring to their inherent magical power, which exceeded the limitations of meaning. Arp’s interest in mysticism, specifically the writings of Jakob Böhme (1575 –1624), led to some alchemical connections.49 Böhme was a German shoemaker whose earliest writings resulted from hallucinations that enabled him to visualize a spiritual hierarchy of world order. In his first book, Aurora (1612), Böhme described a polarized universe balanced by oppositions between light and dark, good and evil. When the authorities banned Aurora, he spent the next five years in silence and seclusion studying the works of Paracelsus, a sixteenth-century physician and alchemist. Böhme’s later works applied the enigmatic language of alchemical manuscripts to his own devised path of spiritual enlightenment, which ultimately led to a mystical union with the Divine. Arp read Böhme as a child, possibly because of Böhme’s influence on the German Romantics. He even teased his younger brother François by reading Böhme to him instead of giving him candy. Twice in May 1917, Arp read passages from Aurora at the Cabaret Voltaire. Ernst’s early alchemical images are not, however, fully explained by Arp’s presence. Böhme’s alchemical symbols are both idiosyncratic and arcane, although his circular diagrams may have prompted Arp’s abstracted oval drawings. Ernst was more likely drawn to the psychoanalytic connections to alchemy explored in Herbert Silberer’s Probleme der Mystik und Ihrer Symbolik (1914).50 As discussed in Chapter 2, Silberer interpreted an alchemical legend narrated with symbolic characters and events. The discovery, destruction, and purification of Primal Matter and the eventual “chemical marriage” of Sulphur and Mercury, the King and Queen, evolved during the travels of an


initiation alchemist-wanderer. Silberer’s justification of the coexistence of multiple interpretations of such legends is one of the strongest connections between this book and Ernst’s imagery. Many of Ernst’s works contain multiple symbolic references, including Freudian, biographical, and alchemical symbols, carefully overlapping each other like the pieces of his collages. Focusing on the operational aspects of alchemy—that is, the progression of the three stages from putrefaction (the black) to ablution (the white) to conjunction (the red)— Silberer dwelled primarily on the first phase, which he saw as equivalent to the “introversion” phase in Jung’s theory. In the introversion phase, the first stage of psychological development, the individual must face and conquer the demons of childhood. For Freud, the demons of childhood were best explained by his Oedipal theory, in which a young boy secretly desires his mother and engages his father in a psychological battle for her affections. Silberer incorporated the theories of both Freud and Jung in his alchemical equation.51 The masculine and feminine archetypes, the King and Queen of the alchemical process, represented the parents and the associated psychological turmoil of childhood that must be “destroyed” or overcome for the process of individuation to begin. In the final phase, compared to the sexual conjunction of the royal couple, the psyche achieved a new unification, in which all oppositions were resolved, and the alchemical Androgyne appeared (Fig. 3.1), fusing the alchemical King and Queen into one unified being. This emblematic representation, or “rebis,” is one of only three illustrations that Silberer included in his text, but it summarizes many important aspects of the work. The King and Queen are united over a dragon, symbolizing the Primal Matter from which they arose as well as the fire applied to achieve their union. They hold masonic instruments of a compass and square, ringed by a semicircle of stars symbolizing the seven ancient planets. The sun and the moon are placed close to their personifications, and the remaining stars contain the astrological symbols for Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn. The dragon rests on a circle, symbolizing alchemy’s cyclic unity, as does the number 1. The triangle and the number 3 represent the three properties of the work, sulphur, mercury, and salt, as well as their three equivalents, soul, spirit, and body. The rectangle and the number 4 represent the four elements, earth, water, fire, and air. Silberer interpreted the Androgyne as the fully developed adult personality. In emotionally disturbed or psychotic individuals, this double-sided model of the mind might take the form of a split personality, bisexuality, or


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 3.1. Rebis, from Herbert Silberer, Probleme der Mystik und Ihrer Symbolik (Vienna: Heller, 1914), 126.

another unreconciled mental problem. Following the prescribed psychoanalytic path from introversion to regeneration that Silberer summarized from Freudian and Jungian theory, the resulting Androgyne represented the healed and mature psyche. In this light, the alchemical Androgyne became a symbol of the double-natured self with its masculine and feminine aspects joined, derived from the parents that one carried within the self, but purged and resolved of all conflicts. Silberer’s discussion of Jung’s theory of “introversion” had a particular relevance for Ernst following his return from the war. Emotional scars from this experience were lingering as a strong dualism marked his personality upon his return from the front, described as “recurring moods of introversion and withdrawal alternated with the erstwhile animation and sparkle.” 52 As with his readings of Freud, Ernst transformed Silberer’s discussions of parental conflict and adult resolution into visualizations of his own psychological evolution. Androgynous images occurred in several Cologne Dada works of this period.53 To an extent, these images reflected Freudian theories of innate bisexuality as well as a Dada celebration of sexual experiences that bourgeois society might label as immoral.54 Yet sexuality was central to alchemy as well


initiation as to Freudian theory, and the Androgyne was one of its most central visual symbols. In 1920, Ernst created a collage self-portrait, The Punching Ball ou l’immortalité de Buonarotti (S/M 372), by combining a photograph of himself with found images. The strange androgynous companion at his side combines the torso of a woman wearing a white off-the-shoulder ball gown with a man’s flayed head. The white dress on the lower part of the female body signifies the “Queen,” or Philosophic Mercury. The flayed head, clipped from an anatomical chart, exposes muscles and veins to suggest the red coloration of the alchemical “King.” The fusion of man and woman into a single figure recreates an alchemical Androgyne, although they are not joined vertically as in traditional emblems, such as the one that Silberer illustrated. Ernst clipped many illustrations of human dissections and anatomical diagrams, works that have been connected to his interest in medicine and to technical parallels between dissection and clipping found images to make collages.55 The humor of these images was counterweighted by the more somber awareness of the fragility of the human body that Ernst gained from his wartime experiences. Support for an alchemical interpretation of these flayed body parts can be found in Silberer’s many references to the first operations of the alchemical work, in which Primal Matter is stripped of all impurities. In the arcane mythic language of alchemical manuscripts, these operations were often described as flaying or dismemberment. Describing an emblem in which a dead man lies in front of an open grave, Silberer explained: The dragon [meaning the dead man, or Primal Matter] is the guardian of the temple, sacrifice him, flay him, cut his flesh from his bones and thou wilt find what thou seekest.56 Later he quoted a similar passage, “and after flaying the skin from my head, he mixed the bones with the flesh. . . .” 57 For Silberer, a physical destruction or mutilation to the body represented the initial steps in the alchemical operations. At the same time they signified the psychological process of introversion in which the individual must battle and eliminate all childhood repressions. Ernst’s source illustrations of flayed bodies and anatomical diagrams drew from Silberer’s alchemical descriptions of stripping Primal Matter to its “bones and blood.” Likewise, his collage process paralleled the


max er nst and alchemy destruction of Primal Matter, as the original source image was destroyed in order to produce the new work. For several of his Cologne Dada collages and overpaintings Ernst chose scientific source material, namely laboratory equipment, dissected anatomical parts, and botanical life cycles from the Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog. These references to laboratory equipment can be interpreted as modern equivalents of the traditional tools of alchemy and its operations. His Hydrometric Demonstration: How to Kill by Temperature (S/M 346) was painted onto a plate of instruments used for measuring fluids. The title symbolically referred to the problems encountered by the alchemist, who must carefully control the temperature in the vessel to promote the fusion of Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury, the two opposing properties that must be “killed” in the initial operations. In Two Ambiguous Figures (S/M 348), Ernst constructed an alchemical couple by painting onto a plate of equipment and protective

Fig. 3.2. Max Ernst, Winter Landscape: Carburation of the Vulcanized Iron Bride for the Purpose of Producing the Necessary Warming of the Bed (Winterlandschaft: Vergasung der vulkanisierten Eisenbraut zur Erzeugung der nötigen Bettwärme), 1921, gouache, ink and pencil overpainting, 15.5 ⫻ 20.5 cm (S/M 410). Private collection. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.



Fig. 3.3. KĂślner Lehrmittelkatalog, source for Winter Landscape, reproduced from Werner Spies, Collagen, cat. no. 621. Reproduced upside down for comparison with Figure 3.2.

eyeglasses from biology and chemistry laboratories. The body of the vertical phallic male on the left was constructed by retaining a metal coil with tubular extensions from the underlying plate, while his smaller female partner on the left was formed within the remains of a rounded transparent globe reminiscent of the alembic vessel. The subtitle of Winter Landscape: Carburation of the Vulcanized Iron Bride for the Purpose of Producing the Necessary Warming of the Bed (Fig. 3.2) symbolically alluded to the warming of the vessel in order to produce the sexual union between the alchemical bride and groom.58 The original plate for Winter Landscape (Fig. 3.3) contained a ďŹ ery furnace, retained in the ďŹ nal image to become the athanor, or alchemical furnace used to heat the alembic vessel. Even in winter, the reproductive momentum of nature continues its underground cycle with pumping pistons and a phallic exhaust leading from the furnace. The sexual references in Winter Landscape can be partly explained by Freudian theory. At the same time, the traditional equation between alchemy and the plant cycle is based on the fact that seeds must die and be buried in the ground before


max er nst and alchemy they can germinate and bear fruit. Primal Matter is closely connected to the earth, and it must be “killed” and “buried” before its final resurrection as gold. The scattering white spots beneath the earth in Winter Landscape recall a passage from Silberer describing this botanical analogy: The formation and cultivation of the new earth is a beginning that is rich with significant consequences. The alchemists speak of a maidenly earth or a flaky white earth (i.e., crystalline) as a certain stage in the work. . . . The soil is crystalline because the old earth was dissolved and has been freshly formed from the solution. The crystallization corresponds to regeneration. The “white earth” probably corresponds to the “white stone,” . . . In the white earth a seed is sown.59 Dada Gauguin, 1920 (Fig. 3.4), a work combining collage, gouache, and ink, is a rich example of Ernst’s symbolic layering of Freudian and alchemical symbolism. The image consists of a horizontal landscape containing three figures, two red and one flesh-colored. Their sexes are difficult to determine because all external characteristics, including facial features, have been suppressed. Ernst placed each figure in or near large objects with clear Freudian associations. On the far left is an artichoke, decorated with phallic projectiles and topped with a nosegay of small yellow balls resembling flower pistils. One of the red figures is encased within this plant. In the center is a second red figure near a tall phallic form echoing the projectile shapes on the artichoke. At the right, a flesh-colored figure stands inside a cutaway egg or womb. De Chirico inspired Ernst’s choice of artichokes, mannequin figures, and a phallic shape reminiscent of de Chirico’s architectural towers, as well as the placement of this scene within an austere landscape stretching to a distant horizon. The Freudian symbolism of this work can be understood in light of a passage in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, which Ernst had read in 1913. Analyzing one of his own dreams, Freud followed a series of associations from his wife’s favorite flowers, cyclamens, to Freud’s favorite food, artichokes, and finally to an incident from his childhood.60 One of Freud’s favorite pastimes as a boy was to tear apart color picture books that his father had given him for that purpose. The tearing of these books, leaf by leaf, just like eating an artichoke, created a symbolic link in his mind between this childhood



Fig. 3.4. Max Ernst, Dada Gauguin, 1920, collage, gouache, and ink on paper, 29 ⫻ 40 cm (S/M 387). Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Fulton. Courtesy Maurice Fulton. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

pleasure and his favorite food. Freud did not elaborate on the sexual symbolism of the artichoke, but hinted that there was more to his dream that related to intimate details of his own childhood. In Dada Gauguin, the artichoke can be read on several levels: as a sexual symbol via de Chirico; as a reference to Freudian symbolism and this passage from The Interpretation of Dreams; and as an equivalent to the collage and overpainting process that Ernst had recently adopted, with its prerequisite destruction of source material, just as the young Freud had torn apart his father’s books. This painting contains several visual parallels to Silberer’s text. Concerning the two opposing properties of Primal Matter, he related the “iron-clad” rule: “The central idea of the interaction or the cooperation of two things that are generally called the man and woman, red and white, sun and moon, sulphur and mercury.” 61 Throughout the text, Silberer reiterated the centrality of the colors red and white to the two central archetypes, male and


max er nst and alchemy female. His alchemical parable began with a fight between the wanderer and a lion, and elsewhere he elaborates on this symbol of Primal Matter. The green lion [a usual symbol for the material at the beginning] encloses the raw seeds, yellow hairs adorn his head [this detail is not lacking in the parable], i.e., when the projection on the metals takes place, they turn yellow, golden. [Green is the color of hope, of growth. Previously only the head of the lion is gold, his future. Later he becomes a red lion, the philosopher’s stone, the king in robe of purple. At any rate he must first be killed.] 62 In this collage, the green artichoke has replaced the green lion, although like that animal it is crowned with yellow “hairs.” The red figure enclosed within is the masculine principle of the work, reinforced by the phallic projectiles on the artichoke’s surface and his red coloring. Because Silberer compared the “killing” of this lion both to Oedipal fantasies of the killing of the father and to castration anxieties, the alchemical nature of these phallic projectiles is underscored. Once the Primal Matter is “killed” it is buried in a “grave,” one of many figurative terms for the alchemical vessel where it putrefies and turns black. Silberer explains: The black, with its water of life [in the parable the mill water is black] is cooked nine days till the white earth of the philosophers appears. An angel throws the bones on the purified and whitened earth, which is now mixed with its seeds.63 As in Winter Landscape, the color changes in the vessel are indicated by the horizontal layer of black earth crossed by white parallel lines, indicating the sowed “bones” of the legend. Now begins the main work—marriage, prison, embrace, conception, birth, transfiguration. . . . The prison is the philosophic egg. . . . It is just like the belly and the womb, containing in itself the true, natural warmth (to give life to our young king). . . . Therefore, when you have put them (the white woman and the red man) in their vessel, then close it as fast as possible. . . .64


initiation The prison or grave is the alchemical vessel in which the two figures are purified and eventually brought together in a sexual embrace. In the collage, both red and white figures are enclosed, the masculine red figure in the artichoke with its phallic projectiles, and the feminine white figure in a cutaway womb on the right. As a result of their sexual union, a child is born, the second red figure standing by the phallus in the center of the collage. Dada Gauguin is an almost literal translation of Silberer’s alchemical exegesis. The green artichoke with its crown of yellow balls, like the green lion, represents Primal Matter. The red and white figures enclosed within their symbolic alchemical vessels are the male and female principles of the work whose union produces the Philosopher’s Stone, represented by the central red figure, their son, the young “King.” 65 In alchemical texts, the Philosopher’s Stone is often represented as a young child emerging from a tomb or sarcophagus, as illustrated in a woodcut from the Pretiosa Margarita Novella (Fig. 3.5).66 Here the alchemist, dressed as a soldier, lifts the cover from the tomb in which the old King has been buried. The young King, or Philosopher’s Stone, is born as a result of his

Fig. 3.5. Petrus Bonus and Janus Lacinius, Pretiosa Margarita Novella (Venice, 1546). Courtesy of Glasgow University Library, Department of Special Collections.


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 3.6. Max Ernst, Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Les Hommes ne le sauront jamais), 1921, gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper, 50.5 ⫻ 65 cm (S/M 464). Courtesy of Peter Schamoni, Munich. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

father’s death. In an alchemical engraving from the Philosophia reformata, the child stands between his two parents, the King and Queen, in a manner more closely resembling Ernst’s Dada Gauguin, but this image was probably not reproduced in the late nineteenth century.67 Silberer had pointed out the psychological implications of this alchemical child’s birth from the death of his father, comparing passages from alchemical texts to Freudian Oedipal theory. In another gouache and watercolor, titled Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Fig. 3.6),68 Ernst interpreted other passages from Silberer’s text and adapted the androgynous double-headed illustration of the rebis (Fig. 3.1). Two birds are fused back-to-back and float in the air above a swollen river. Birds carry multiple messages as symbols of the psychological traumas of Ernst’s youth and as Freudian puns for sexual intercourse.69 Ernst’s fusion of these two birds represents the stage of conjunction fusing the alchemical couple through


initiation sexual intercourse. The heads of Ernst’s birds are red and white, colors of the King and Queen, while their tails are fused into a single black-and-white shape, colors of the operations of putrefaction and purification. A circle surrounds them, recalling the egg-shaped enclosure of the rebis. Behind these androgynous birds is a submarine combined with a strange suspended biomorphic form, a black figure within a smaller circle and two entwining snakelike creatures. Snakes, like dragons, represent Primal Matter, as well as being a universal symbol of the libido and the phallus. In alchemy, the destruction of Primal Matter occurs at the beginning of the operations, symbolized by the killing of a lion, a dragon, or a serpent. The psychological work of alchemy is to conquer uncontrolled libidinal impulses derived from childhood repression. As Silberer noted: I would recall that alchemy, too, has the symbol of the snake or the dragon, and used in a way that reinforces the preceding conception. It is there connected with the symbols of introversion and appears as “poisonous.” The anxiety serpent is the “guardian of the threshold” of the occultists; it is the treasure guarding dragon of the myth. In mystic work the serpent must be overcome, we must settle with the conflict which is the serpent’s soul.70 The process of introversion, a “sinking into one’s soul,” is symbolized by the submarine, which is capable of plunging into the depths.71 The mythic “killing” of the Primal Matter relates to psychological battles, which entail the “disclaiming of all bonds and limitations that the soul has carried over from childhood into adulthood.” 72 The biomorphic visceral form near the mast is painted red and white, a symbol for the dismemberment of Primal Matter and its stripping to the bones and blood. As Silberer explained, the psychological break from childhood might be compared to “the two serpents sent by Juno (which is the metallic nature) which the strong Hercules (i.e., the wise man in his cradle), has to strangle, i.e., to overpower and kill, in order in the beginning of his work to have them rot, be destroyed and to bear.” 73 The blackened figure within the inner circle represents the putrefied body and the initial stage of nigredo. Once the alchemical killing and the psychological stage of introversion are completed, purification and


max er nst and alchemy regeneration can begin. “The decaying which precedes the arising of the new being is connected with a great inundation. . . .” 74 Elsewhere Silberer summarized: We should not forget the singular fact that after the introversion, at the beginning of the work of rebirth, a deluge occurs. . . . The entire inundation must, in the philosophical vessel, be absorbed by the bodies that have turned black, and then it works on them for the purpose of new creation, fructifying them like the floods of water upon the earth.75 Ernst’s first autobiographical statement, “Max Ernst,” published in 1921, summarized his works of the Cologne Dada period.76 Although some of the phrases were based on Arp’s writings,77 the essay revealed Ernst’s preoccupations and pursuits in the years before his move to Paris. Rebelling against his parents since the age of twelve, he confidently described himself as strikingly good-looking and very intelligent. Symbolic references to male and female sexual parts were scattered throughout: his colors were “perforated” and “tubular,” and “he has loved toying with the styloid appendages . . . and promontories.” 78 His collages and overpaintings were described as “secretions . . . full of plants and animal remains.” While Ernst’s essay does not offer evidence of his alchemical intentions, two references can be related to the basic dualism upon which alchemy is based. Ernst’s comment that “the Pythagorean theorem penetrates his flesh and blood” expressed more than his admiration for geometry.79 Pythagoras was honored as a hermetic philosopher, and similarities exist in his teachings to the later codification of alchemical symbolism.80 According to legend, Pythagoras went to Egypt early in life and absorbed its ancient mysteries. Returning to Greece and later to Croton in southern Italy, he established a communal society that incorporated Egyptian initiation rites. Ernst would have rejected some of his precepts, such as his urging chastity for novices and insisting on the veneration of one’s father. On the other hand, his concept of the Dyad, the Eternal Masculine and Eternal Feminine aspects of cosmic unity, and his dualistic structuring of the universe resonated with later alchemical teachings. Pythagoras taught the wisdom of numbers, emphasizing one, two, three, and seven, which were also symbolic in alchemy. Pythagoras also believed in the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation, and made contributions to astron-


initiation omy, a connection that parallels another reference in Ernst’s autobiographical statement: With a special love he watches in the close proximity of Mizar, a star of the fifth magnitude known as Aktor or the Little Horseman. This star has served as a touchstone of vision since antiquity. A shame Aktor searched so early for the stud farm.81 Mizar and Aktor are double stars, situated so closely together in the heavens that they appear to the naked eye to be one star. Their conjunction was one of the first to be discovered, and an ability to separate them had been a test of one’s visual faculties.82 This double star is another parallel to the rebis, a symbol of the double-natured psyche. Ernst’s lament about Aktor’s going to stud exposed the troubles developing in his marriage, problems exacerbated by the birth of his son Jimmy in June 1920. Although Lou and Max were delighted by Jimmy’s arrival, his appearance failed to create the closeness between them that had been missing in the marriage.83 Ernst’s independence and his need for a wider stage for his talents were coming into conflict with the limitations of his life in Cologne. The publication of this first autobiographical statement coincided with the initial visit of Paul and Gala Eluard, a couple who would show him the way to make his escape. Through his friendship with Tristan Tzara, Ernst had come to the attention of the Paris Dadaists.84 Their first exhibition of his Dada works, which he sent to them through the mail, at the Galerie Au Sans Pareil during May– June 1921, also provided the opportunity for a Dada event during the opening. André Breton and Louis Aragon later credited the seminal importance of this exhibition to the genesis of surrealist imagery.85 That summer, Max and Lou vacationed in Tarrenz-bei-Imst in the Tyrol with Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber, Tristan Tzara, and Maya Chrusecz.86 Ernst and Arp published a Dada manifesto titled Dada au grand air or Der Sängerkrieg in Tirol. The title page contained a collage titled The Preparation of Glue from Bones (S/M 435). This first collage made entirely of wood engravings forecast those Ernst would create in his later collage novels. On their way to meet Sigmund Freud in Vienna, André Breton and his new wife, Simone, visited Ernst and his companions. When disagreements between Tzara and Breton sowed the seeds of the later conflict that resulted in the demise of Dada in Paris, Breton and Simone continued on to Vienna, and Ernst and Lou returned to Cologne,


max er nst and alchemy with the Eluards missing everyone by just a few days. After joining the Bretons in Vienna, the Eluards returned through Cologne and visited Max and Lou in their apartment on the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring from November 4 through 10, a fateful meeting that began Max’s friendship with Paul Eluard and his passionate attachment to Gala. This visit marked the beginning of many collaborations between Max and Paul Eluard, and their joint ventures— books of collages and poetry titled Répétitions and Les Malheurs des immortels —were published in March and July of the following year.87 During their six-day visit, Répétitions was formulated using ten preexisting collages and one overpainting by Ernst and thirty-three poetic texts previously written by Eluard. The poetry and collages were juxtaposed without any real connections, much like the unrelated pieces of Ernst’s collages. When the Eluards returned to Cologne the following March (1922), they brought the newly published Répétitions and plans for another project. Les Malheurs des immortels provided an opportunity for more extensive collaborations between the two artists, who corresponded by mail throughout the spring and early summer. Ernst’s new collages for this book inspired him to write lines of poetry, which were interspersed and coordinated with poetry by Eluard. Collages included in both books also reveal aspects of Ernst’s developing alchemical symbolism. An image to be explored in this light, created for Les Malheurs des immortels, is titled The Scissors and Their Father (Fig. 3.7) after the accompanying poem by Eluard. A large androgynous figure on the right combines male and female characteristics. Emerging from a woman’s dress, a male hand holds a magician’s top hat, a motif reappearing in other collages of this period, clipped from the French periodical La Nature, where originally they had illustrated magic tricks.88 Ernst clipped the open cavity in the center of this androgynous body from La Nature, where it originally illustrated a game played with billiard balls called the “Columbian Egg.” This egg within this Androgyne thus becomes a replacement for the “Philosophic Egg,” the vessel in which the alchemical work takes place. In the center, another smaller figure wearing a red dress indicates the appearance of the Philosopher’s Stone, the red son who is born of the sexual union of his royal parents. As a young man empowered by his new creative vision, Ernst looked back on the constrictions of his strict middle-class Catholic upbringing. The admonitions of his parents had long been abandoned, but he saw his ascent to maturity as a psychological struggle against their power. While Silberer’s text



Fig. 3.7. Max Ernst, The Scissors and Their Father (Les Ciseaux et leur père), illustration for Les Malheurs des immortels (Paris: Librairie Six, 1922), 4 (S/M 472). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

with its arcane alchemical language and enigmatic symbols may seem impenetrably dense and convoluted, his underlying message and its application to Ernst’s images are simple to decode. Ernst was struck by Silberer’s equation of contemporary psychoanalytic theory and traditional alchemical symbolism, with its evolution from destruction to rebirth. He could see the parallels between the devastation of the war and the first stages of the alchemical process, when Primal Matter is separated, destroyed, and putrefied, as a dead body


max er nst and alchemy would begin to rot—a process equivalent to the psychological stage of introversion. This traumatic stage is eventually followed by healing. Once psychological conflicts are resolved the true individual can emerge—a parallel to the appearance of the alchemical Androgyne. The sexual imagery that pervaded Ernst’s work was drawn from his interest in Freud, but it also resonated with the central tenets of alchemical imagery. In its most crystalline form, his fascination with androgynous imagery connected both to his parents and to the polarized aspects of his own personality. Later, it would develop as the visual interplay of the male bird “Loplop” and “La Femme 100 têtes.” Alchemy, with its central image of the Androgyne born of the sexual fusion and death of its parents, provided the symbolic language to map his psyche. At the end of his book, Silberer struggled to find a modern equivalent for the more mystical aspects of alchemical philosophy.89 Reviewing the three main stages, from black to white to red, he stated that “black corresponds to introversion and to the first [mystic] death, the white to the ‘new earth,’ to freedom or innocence, red to love, which completes the work.” 90 Once psychological conflicts were resolved, freedom from the past was obtained. “The hermetic philosophers would have the conscience known as the Way or as the base of the work, but with regard to the peculiar wonder work of alchemy (transmutation) they place the chief value on love.” 91 The final goal of the work was a mystical union with the Divine, which in traditional terms had been defined as the love of God. “When the alchemists speak of philosophical mercury and philosophical gold, they mean something in man and something in God that finally turns out to be the One.” 92 Although Silberer was not in accord with the religious interpretations of the past, nor fully satisfied with his own solution in finding their modern equivalent, he compared this mystical path with its emphasis on divine love to a search for human love. At this point in his life, Ernst’s desire for love and freedom was being realized in his relationship with Gala Eluard. During the Eluards’ second joint vacation in Tarrenz-bei-Imst in July 1922, it became obvious to everyone that Ernst would follow her.93 The time had come for a change and metamorphosis, although for a German citizen, crossing the French border so soon after the war was nearly impossible. In September 1922, borrowing Paul Eluard’s passport sent to him through the mail, Max left Lou and Jimmy in Cologne and moved to Paris.



The Occultation of Surrealism

Paris has rich associations with alchemy, particularly the medieval neighborhood near Les Halles, including the rue Nicolas Flamel and the Tour Saint Jacques,1 sites that Ernst first visited in 1913 and that the surrealists would explore during the 1920s. Parisians have had a persistent fascination not only with alchemy but also with astrology, psychics, tarot cards, magnetism, and other occult pastimes. At the turn of the century, Paris was the center of the French occult revival, whose hermetic writings inspired the artists and writers of the symbolist and Rosicrucian circles. Because symbolism exerted such a strong influence on the genesis of surrealism, its hermetic language infiltrated their early writings. In August 1914, André Breton wrote a letter to Theodore Fraenkel concerning Rimbaud’s poem “L’Alchimie du verbe” (“Alchemy of the Word”).2 However, Breton’s comment that this poem was “the masterpiece of perversity” showed little understanding of its alchemical symbolism. During the period between the outbreak of the war and publication of the first Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, these young writers met, began to engage in Dada activities, and gradually made the transition to surrealism. The war had been a cataclysmic eruption in the lives of these men, who either fought in the trenches or assumed auxiliary roles. Breton, for instance, worked as an intern in a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers at St. Dizier. While the war inhibited their creative efforts, it was also during this period that they first entered the Parisian literary world with its hermetic currents. Breton was


max er nst and alchemy drawn into the circle around Guillaume Apollinaire, who then introduced him to Philippe Soupault. In 1917, Apollinaire first used the word sur-réalisme to describe the Ballets Russes’ Parade, and he also used the subtitle “a surrealist drama” for his play Les Mamelles de Tirésias (The Mammaries of Tiresias), first performed on June 24. Although the play is intended as a spoof, one of its major characters is a housewife who develops psychic powers, indicating an awareness of popular occultism in cubist circles.3 Adrienne Monnier’s bookshop, La Maison des Amis des Livres (the House of Book Lovers) in the rue de l’Odéon, was an important meeting place. Monnier was well versed in hermeticism and supposedly argued with Breton about the occult, in addition to their discussions of Novalis and Rimbaud. Later she read Breton’s palm and was disturbed to see how his head line, indicating the intellect, showed his fascination with madness and insanity.4 Toward the end of 1917, Monnier introduced Breton to Louis Aragon, who subsequently met Soupault. In March 1919, Breton, Aragon, and Soupault published the first issue of the periodical Littérature. The following month, Paul Eluard joined them, and the transition from Dada to surrealism began.5 The few scattered allusions to hermeticism appearing in the early issues of Littérature suggest that it was not a high priority. The March 1921 issue published a survey ranking a diverse selection of renowned figures and literary works on a scale of -25 to 20, with -25 indicating the greatest aversion.6 Although they selected names from the diverse fields of art, literature, philosophy, music, politics, and the cinema, not a single hermeticist is listed, with the exception of Strindberg, who undoubtedly was considered solely as a playwright. This issue appeared two months before Ernst’s collages were first exhibited at the Galerie Au Sans Pareil in May 1921. Ernst’s own ratings in the poll indicate his intermittent contact with members of the group. He was given relatively high marks by Aragon, Breton, Benjamin Péret, and Tzara, while his future friend Eluard gave him a zero, a score indicating absolute indifference. The next year, the Parisian Dadaists were asked to respond to a series of terms,7 an exercise forecasting the more elaborate questionnaires designed later for the Bureau de Recherches Surréalistes. When they were asked to identify their preferences in categories, such as sections of Paris, unusual objects, sciences, occupations, flowers, and ways of making love, their answers provided few hermetic allusions, even though Breton, Georges Ribemont-


the occultation of sur realism Dessaignes, and Roger Vitrac all chose lead, a base metal in the alchemical process, as their favorite metal, while Eluard chose silver, the purified feminine principle of Philosophic Mercury. The following September, Aragon composed an abbreviated summary of recent history, summarizing with simple phrases the important events influencing contemporary literature.8 He mentioned writers and artists from symbolism, cubism, and the various Dada movements along with their travels and important exhibitions. This litany was interspersed with significant films, ballets, and historical events. Toward the end of the list, Aragon hinted at the growing factionalism within the group. He suggested that by the beginning of the summer of 1922, the communal attitude of the Dadaists was in flux and rather pessimistic. Dada had not saved the world, nor had it formulated a new direction. Once again, throughout this article, no occult activities or hermetic figures were mentioned. On September 2, Ernst arrived in Paris and moved in with the Eluards in the suburb of Saint-Brice. Because of his illegal entry into France, he adopted the alias “Jean Paris,” with falsified papers supplied by Jean Paulhan. After a brief stint as a movie extra in Les Trois Mousquetaires, he went to work in a factory that manufactured tourist trinkets, compensated for these reduced circumstances by the richness of the literary circle he had entered. Breton and the other Parisian Dadaists welcomed him, having seen and admired his collages exhibited at the Galerie Au Sans Pareil in 1921 and reproduced more recently in Littérature, Répétitions, and Les Malheurs des immortels. Ernst arrived in Paris at a propitious moment when the nascent surrealist movement was about to take a decided turn toward psychic experimentation. Three weeks later the famous “époque des sommeils” began, events that are summarized in Breton’s article “Entrée des mediums,” published in the November 1922 issue of Littérature.9 The hypnotic “sleeps” that characterize this period were an outgrowth of efforts that began with automatic writing, another means of access to the unconscious. The ensuing séances are well documented in this article and elsewhere by those who participated over the next few months.10 René Crevel had just returned from a summer vacation during which a medium, Madame D., had instructed him on the procedures for holding a séance. The first was held on September 25, with Crevel, Breton, Max Morise, Robert Desnos, and Simone Breton present in Breton’s small studio at 42, rue Fontaine. After only three minutes Crevel’s head dropped forward onto the table and he entered an agitated state of melodramatic bab-


max er nst and alchemy bling punctuated by gasps and obscenities. Breton wanted to know if others could fall into this trance state, so Crevel left the room. After another halfhour, Desnos fell into a deep hypnotic sleep and began convulsively scratching on the table as if he wanted to write. Upon awakening, neither Crevel nor Desnos remembered what had happened.11 Two days later the second session was held with the initial group joined by Paul and Gala Eluard, Max Ernst, and Benjamin Péret. The séance again convened at 9:00 in the evening, following the procedure prescribed by Madame D., which included dimming the lights and holding hands in a circle around the table in silent concentration. During this session, Crevel breathlessly narrated the tale of a fantastic crime. Desnos was more focused, responding to questions posed by other members, who each took his hand in turn. Péret’s friend Renée Gauthier came to the third séance, held without Crevel and Desnos. Gauthier fell into an agitated sleep and symbolically expressed fears of her father, while Péret ended the evening comically by “swimming” on the tabletop. Throughout the next few months most of the Parisian Dadaists and visitors passing through Paris joined in these sessions. While Breton, Ernst, and Paul Eluard attended these séances faithfully, none of the three was able to enter a trance state. Crevel, Desnos, and Péret soon became the most adept, and their responses reflected the differing depths of their hypnosis: Péret had the lightest trance state, followed by Crevel, and finally Desnos (Fig. 4.18). Their reactions were as different as their personalities—Péret was comic and amusing; Crevel spouted delirious and often violent narratives, while Desnos, continually preoccupied with death, entered into dialogues with the more lucid members around the table and drew psychic portraits of them. On one occasion he made a seemingly telepathic communication with Marcel Duchamp, and automatically dictated the poetry of Rrose Sélavy.12 Some of their associates, including Soupault, Jacques Baron, and Roger Vitrac, resisted the new direction of the movement,13 while others questioned the authenticity of these “performances.” Still, as Man Ray observed, these evenings would have been miraculous even if they had been prepared in advance.14 The sessions continued regularly for several months. When the Bretons went to Spain in November for a holiday, Eluard directed the sessions, although he complained in a letter to Breton that these sessions were not equal in qual-


the occultation of sur realism ity to those that Breton had led.15 Despite the enthusiasm stimulated by these séances, even in the early weeks the intensity of the proceedings began to get out of hand. In a letter dated October 9, Simone Breton reported to her cousin Denise, the future wife of Pierre Naville, some frightening events that had occurred during the first weeks of the experimentations.16 Just prior to a séance, Vitrac’s friend Suzanne had confided to Simone that she was ill and had been coughing blood. In the séance that followed, Crevel declared that he was suffering from tuberculosis, and a dazed Suzanne soon joined in, convinced that she was going to die with him. The day after, Ernst, who had not been sick previously, also began to cough blood. On other occasions, Desnos became increasingly violent and disruptive. One night at Saint-Brice, he attacked Eluard with a kitchen knife and was finally subdued by Ernst and Breton. There were other threats toward Péret and Vitrac, and Desnos’s increasing violence and unpredictability soon put an end to these activities.17 Breton’s article “Entrée des mediums” summarized the highlights of these fall séances that signaled such a major change in the direction of the movement. He used the term surréalisme twice in the article, connecting it both to psychic automatism and to “magic dictation.” His earlier experiments with automatic writing, specifically the collaborative writing of Les Champs magnétiques (1919) with Philippe Soupault, had inaugurated the use of free association in the writing process, but these séances suggested a more direct way to tap the unconscious world of dreams. Initially, hypnosis had been an integral part of Freudian psychoanalytic treatment, while mediums, artificial somnambulism, and autohypnosis were being studied by respected explorers of the “subliminal self ” such as Frederic Myers, Pierre Janet, Charles Richet, and Théodore Flournoy.18 This turn toward the world of psychics and mediums was a radical departure from nonsensical Dada activities, but seen within this scientific vein of their investigation, the séances were consistent with the surrealists’ shifting orientation toward psychoanalysis during this period.19 The Dadaists abhorred the cheap tricks and legerdemain of psychic entertainers, and insisted that their investigations into these realms were aimed at the provocation of new mental states. The surrealists employed the same séance techniques as those used in spiritualist circles for contacting the spirits of the dead, just like the earlier séances in Cologne, where Ernst and Henseler had conjured up the spirit “Macchab” and the deceased poet,


max er nst and alchemy George Heym, who miraculously dictated new works to Henseler under trance. Contacting the dead, however, was never the intention of the Parisian group. They were fascinated by the irrational and seemingly prophetic utterances of their hypnotic sleepers and the potential that these methods offered for reaching the deepest levels of the unconscious mind through communal creativity. The “époque des sommeils” inaugurated a new hermetic direction for Parisian Dada. Although this period saw the Dadaists’ first sustained involvement in occult activities, evidence in the transcripts points to very little accompanying interest in alchemy. Josephson related that during one of Crevel’s narratives, the fictional arch-criminal Fantômas turned into the medieval alchemist Nicolas Flamel.20 Desnos depicted an alchemical marriage of the sun and the moon in a small drawing, but it has not been firmly dated.21 Soon after the séances, in December 1922, Ernst completed his first major Paris painting, the large group portrait titled Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1). A great deal of critical attention has been paid to this painting and its indications of the changing direction of the nascent surrealist movement.22 It has been compared to Dutch group portraiture, to group portraits by Raphael, and to the tradition of German Romantic friendship paintings. Like many of Ernst’s paintings of the early 1920s, it contains a complex matrix of overlapping symbolic references, found images, and bizarre visual juxtapositions. The figures are placed on a rocky precipice that overlooks a glacial landscape, signifying the Tyrolean Alps, where Ernst first met the Parisian Dadaists. His friends from Cologne, Baargeld and Arp, are included, but other major Dada figures such as Tzara, Man Ray, and Picabia are not. The majority of figures are Parisian writers, most of whom had taken part in the séances, including Breton, Paul Eluard, and Max Morise, while the three men most adept at falling into a trance state— Crevel, Desnos, and Péret—are strategically placed at the outer edges and at the center of the group.23 The inclusion of Raphael in the group portrait suggests parallels with his School of Athens and Disputa. Raphael may also represent the Apollonian attributes of art proposed by Nietzsche, while Dostoyevsky, who balances Ernst on his lap, represents the opposite Dionysian pole.24 Because de Chirico often included images of classical sculpture in his paintings, he is represented as a marble column. Adjacent to him, the only woman, Gala Eluard, assumes the same pose as John the Baptist in Raphael’s Disputa. The frozen hand ges-


the occultation of sur realism

Fig. 4.1. Max Ernst, Rendezvous of Friends (Au rendez-vous des amis), 1922, oil on canvas, 129.5 ⫻ 183 cm (S/M 505). Cologne, Museum Ludwig. Photo: Rheinisches Bildarchiv. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

tures of all the figures have been compared to those in nineteenth-century manuals for sign language, a reference to Ernst’s father, who taught in a school for the deaf. Scattered throughout the painting are several smaller elements copied after wood engravings that Ernst found in popular journals. Most of his original source illustrations have been identified,25 leading to speculations about their contributions to the painting’s meaning. A diagram for an underground fortification placed next to Ernst has been compared to the impregnable fortress described in the alchemist Khunrath’s Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom, where the dragon of Hermes resides.26 Beyond this observation, little attention has been paid to the hermetic aspects of this painting.


max er nst and alchemy Ernst intended to cast the newly emerged surrealists as pursuers of hermetic knowledge. (The word hermetic stemmed from a complicated conflation of the legendary Egyptian alchemical philosopher Hermes Trismegistus with the Greek god Hermes [Roman Mercury], who protected travelers and crossroads. In alchemical imagery, Mercury became one of the main characters, as a symbol both of the planet and of the substance salt.) Several details in this group portrait can be compared to an astrological theme found in Renaissance and Baroque prints.27 “The Children of Mercury” were part of a series of seven prints, each depicting one of the seven ancient planets, including the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. In each print, a personification of the planet rode in a chariot, while human types who were ruled by that planet because of their temperament or occupation gathered together on the earth below. Early and late examples of the “Children of Mercury” prints are illustrated here (Figs. 4.2, 4.3). In the version by the Housebook Master (Fig. 4.2), the planet Mercury is personified as a knight who rides a festooned horse and holds a banner emblazoned with a fox. This detail, as well as the inclusion of goldsmiths at the lower left, points to Mercury’s alchemical associations.28 Mercury is accompanied by the two zodiac houses he rules, Virgo and Gemini, symbolized by the Gemini twins and a young woman floating beside him. People ruled by the planet Mercury are found below, including creative artists (painters, musicians, and sculptors), metalworkers, clock makers, and scholars. A romantic couple at the lower right corner enjoys wine and a plentiful meal. At the middle left, a schoolteacher spanks a naughty boy over her knees while a good student diligently reads a book nearby. In a later print after Martin van Heemskerck (Fig. 4.3), the winged Mercury rides in a chariot pulled by cocks. Here, the figures below represent his domain over all the liberal and mechanical arts, updated to include the arts of astronomy, geometry, architecture, and mathematics. One of Mercury’s many roles was as the patron of musicians because of his invention of the lyre, an instrument he constructed from a turtle shell and later exchanged with Apollo for his golden caduceus. He was also connected to the flute, which he played during his early pastoral life. Because pipes are the mechanical principle behind the development of the medieval organ, and because “Children of Mercury” prints originated in the late Middle Ages, organ makers, organ players, and bellows operators are often included to


Fig. 4.2. Housebook Master, “The Children of Mercury,” from Friedrich Lippmann, Die sieben Planeten (Berlin: Amsler & Ruthardt, 1895). Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. Original pen and ink drawing from the Medieval Housebook, ca. 1475–1485 (Waldburg-Wolfegg Castle Collection), folio 16r.

max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 4.3. Martin van Heemskerck, The Children of Mercury, engraved by Harmen Muller. Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

represent Mercury’s patronage of music.29 As these prints developed, the traditionally male organ player (Fig. 4.2) was replaced by St. Cecilia, who can be seen in the left corner of the van Heemskerck print (Fig. 4.3). Bellows were used to power medieval organs as well as the alchemist’s furnace. Several details found in these prints can be compared to Ernst’s Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1) and to other paintings from the early 1920s. Ernst gathered a distinguished group of creative artists, painters, writers, and sculptors. The creative planet Mercury was also thought to influence painting and literature, represented here by Raphael and Dostoyevsky as well as by Ernst’s new friends. On the far left, René Crevel (indicated as no. 1 in the painting) plays an invisible organ, thus duplicating the organists and other musicians ruled by the planet Mercury. Hypnotist entertainers often suggested that their sub-


the occultation of sur realism jects play an invisible piano, and Crevel had been adept at entering a hypnotic trance during the “sommeils.” This detail also relates to Ernst’s St. Cecilia (S/M 630),30 a painting that contains similar references to the mercurial, alchemical, and sexual allusions of organ playing. Astrologically, the planet Mercury also influenced architects, and many of these prints contain buildings under construction. Such details can be compared to the cutaway building touched by Hans Arp (no. 3) on the left. Mercury also ruled astronomers, who intently study their celestial globes (Fig. 4.3) in a way similar to Max Morise (no. 5), who caresses a red sphere. On the ground between Arp and Ernst is a small geometrically cut apple, representing geometry and arithmetic. The art of sculpture is cleverly synthesized in the portrayal of de Chirico (no. 15), who represents the art of sculpture by being one. Breton (no. 13) wears a red magician’s cape as the leader of the group and touches the strange apparition, paralleling the traditional appearance of Mercury in the sky. The original source was an illustration of a halo around a solar eclipse that had appeared in the sky the week of Ernst’s first birthday.31 Ernst turned the original on its side before reproducing it in paint. This circular form topped by a semicircle may have caught Ernst’s eye because of its resemblance to the traditional glyph for the planet Mercury. Because of this symbol’s timely connection to Ernst’s birthday, he uses it to represent himself and his recent appearance in Paris.32 Although traditional “Children of Mercury” prints do not contain Egyptian details, in Rendezvous of Friends Ernst clarified the connection between the planet Mercury, the god Mercury, and the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus by giving his figures Egyptian body positions and angular hand gestures. These newly born surrealists are not only the children of the planet Mercury, but are also cast as children of Hermes to represent the latter’s domain over their creative efforts and the new hermetic direction of the movement. During the “époque des sommeils,” the surrealists adapted aspects of popular occultism for creative experimentation. Ernst’s Rendezvous of Friends placed the participants of these séances within a more elaborate hermetic framework. His interest in alchemy resonated with the burgeoning hermetic interests of many of these artists and writers, who are cast as the “Children of Mercury” and whose creative efforts form the foundation for the beginnings of the occultation of surrealism. The connections between Rendezvous of Friends and traditional “Children of Mercury” prints help explain other paintings of this period as well. Mer-


max er nst and alchemy cury’s rule over the two astrological houses, Virgo and Gemini, can be connected to Ernst’s images of single women and double males that appear during the transition from Cologne to Paris. While still in Cologne, Ernst created an overpainting of a woman floating in the sky. Its title, Puberty Approaches (S/M 418), suggests the virginity associated with the sign Virgo, although the woman’s nudity and the erotic gesture of her arm piercing a ball seem to contradict that interpretation. This ball can be compared to the mirror held by the floating “Virgo” in the upper right of the Housebook Master’s print (Fig. 4.2), a traditional symbol of vanity. Puberty Approaches was inscribed “to Gala,” and was probably created soon after their meeting in November 1921, when their affair began. In several double portraits, Ernst fused two men together, including a drawing of himself and Eluard, a Janus-like portrait drawing of Max Morise, and the more elaborate painting Castor and Pollution (S/M 623), which all contain astrological references to the sign Gemini. According to myth, Castor and Pollux were twins who became the constellation Gemini.33 Compositionally, Castor and Pollution evolved from the alchemical watercolor discussed above, Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Fig. 3.6), a work that owed much of its imagery to Silberer. To create this later image Ernst combined two source illustrations, a submarine and a mining apparatus, both signifying a physical descent, mirroring the psychological descent into the unconscious. The two figures fused in this double portrait have been identified as Desnos and Péret, two of the principal participants in the “sommeils.” 34 In these many paintings and drawings, Ernst created contemporary representations of the astrological signs Virgo and Gemini, appropriate accompaniments to his own role as a latter-day Mercury/Hermes. In 1923, one of the most productive years of his life, Ernst created several alchemical paintings. The most emblematic of these is Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Fig. 4.4), a work that has received previous alchemical interpretations, which Ernst endorsed.35 He dedicated this painting to Breton, and for many years it remained in Breton’s collection.36 Ernst listed its alchemical symbols in a caption on the back, including the sun, the moon, and a sexually united couple formed by fused floating legs joined vertically in the center of the canvas.37 Below this couple, small circular shapes rotate along an orbital path around a central circle representing the earth. The earth is hidden behind a woman’s hand, lending it “the role of a sex organ,” while a small whistle/pipe is suspended at the bottom.


Fig. 4.4. Max Ernst, Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Les Hommes n’en sauront rien), 1923, 80.5 ⫻ 64 cm (S/M 653). Photo: © Tate Gallery (London) 1999. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 4.5. Anonymous, General Theory of Eclipses, from Amédée Guillemin, The Heavens, trans. J. Norman Lockyer (London: Richard Bentley, 1872).

The underlying design of this painting is based on a diagram of eclipse theory (Fig. 4.5) that Ernst reproduced in paint.38 For the sun at the top of the diagram, Ernst substituted a large divided circle painted blue and black, and he painted a large yellow crescent moon below. The earth in the diagram is hidden by a woman’s hand in the painting. Its divided blue and black shape repeats the design of the sun at the top of the painting, recalling the alchemical adage “as above, so below.” The smaller satellites orbiting the


the occultation of sur realism earth represent the moon in its various phases. Ernst duplicated these smaller moons along with their descending triangular shadows, which represent varying degrees of darkness. The moon at the top of this orbit represents a full solar eclipse, as does the center of the solar apparition reproduced in the sky of Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1). An eclipse is the visual fusion of the sun and the moon, the alchemical King and Queen. This astronomical conjunction perfectly mirrors the human sexual union taking place in the center of the canvas. The whistle is a comic replacement for the alchemist’s bellows, as blowing air fans the fire and causes the chemicals to fuse. Men Shall Know Nothing of This can also be compared to an illustration from Silberer’s Probleme der Mystik und Ihrer Symbolik (Fig. 4.6). In this diagram,39 the alchemical work is summarized by symbols placed within a landscape setting. The flowers below represent nature and its cycle of death and rebirth, while the cube in the middle symbolizes the four elements of Primal Matter. The moon and the sun are placed on either side of a symbol for Philosophic Mercury, the feminine principle. This symbol occupies approximately the same place as the earth with its female hand in the painting. Directly above, Philosophic Sulphur, the masculine principle, is represented by its traditional glyph of a small cross topped by a large triangle. The phoenix within this triangle represents the Philosopher’s Stone, reborn from the death of Lead, his father, represented by Saturn, who stands with his scythe and compass at the apex. Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Fig. 4.4) shares several features with Silberer’s diagram: its landscape setting and low horizon; the gradation of the sky from light at the bottom to dark at the top; and the inclusion of the sun and the moon. Ernst replaced the cube of Primal Matter with a pile of entrails.40 Like the bones, muscles, and surgical equipment found in his Dada collages, these entrails symbolize the dissections that Silberer explained represent the destruction of Primal Matter, the first phase in the alchemical and psychological work. Other paintings of this period are more deliberately personal, with dense thematic fusions of biographical, Freudian, and alchemical motifs. Several of the paintings from 1923 centered on Ernst’s father, Philipp, and drew upon Ernst’s childhood memories of him, especially a feverish vision of his own conception.41 In that hallucination, previously described in Chapter 1, his father appeared as a man with a shiny black mustache who took a soft crayon


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 4.6. Alchemical engraving from Herbert Silberer, Probleme der Mystik und ihrer Symbolik (Vienna and Leipzig: H. Heller, 1914), 124.

from his pocket and drew ferocious animals in the air. Panting and heaving, he gathered these images into a vase, and using the soft crayon, which turned into a whip, he began to spin the vase like a top, in a vision that equated sexual intercourse with the act of painting. Ernst compared his father to God the Father in Memory of God (Fig. 4.7), a work also based on his childhood reminiscences.42 Ernst recalled that his father had been especially proud of his painting of his son Max as the Christ Child and took secret delight in thus being identiďŹ ed with God the Father.43


the occultation of sur realism The details in the painting relate to Ernst’s first memory. The figure in the painting plays with a hollow object symbolically representing the womb/ top, bisected by a stick wrapped with a string that forms the top’s spinning mechanism. Hermetic allusions in this painting spring from occult publications newly available to Ernst in Paris. Ernst adapted a source illustration from Eliphas

Fig. 4.7. Max Ernst, Memory of God (Souvenir de Dieu), 1923, oil on canvas, 100 ⫻ 81 cm (S/M 632). Destroyed; formerly Düsseldorf, Johanna Ey collection. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 4.8. Anonymous, The Magical Head of the Zohar, from Eliphas Lévi [Alphonse Louis Constant], Histoire de la magie (Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan, 1922), plate II.

Lévi’s Histoire de la magie titled “The Magical Head of the Zohar” (Fig. 4.8), representing the face of God as it appeared above the waters of creation. Lévi explained the cabalistic symbolism of the image: the representation of God is always a duplicated image— one erect, the other reversed, one white, and the other black—. Light is the active principle for the Kabalists, while darkness is analogous to the passive principle, for which reason they regard the sun and moon as emblems of the two divine sexes and the two creative forces.44 Ernst must have recognized the similarity between the cosmic duality described by the cabalists and that of the alchemical philosophers. In the painting, the elongated face of his father was composed of a light and a dark side,


the occultation of sur realism split down a central vertical axis. Ernst manipulated his source by shifting the horizontal division of dark and light to a vertical one, while retaining the expressively tangled hair. He transformed the triangular enclosure of Lévi’s illustration into an elliptical shape, comparable to the egg shape of Silberer’s alchemical Rebis (3.1). The first version of Woman, Old Man, and Flower I, 1923 (Fig. 4.9), also contained a conflation of hermetic imagery with details drawn from Ernst’s childhood memories.45 The mustached man on the left represents Ernst’s father; a small nude woman reclines on his forearm. The man’s torso is hollow and empty, features shared with a reclining headless woman at the lower edge of the canvas and with a cylindrical figure at the right whose bow tie indicates his masculine persona. In the distant center of the painting, another

Fig. 4.9. Max Ernst, Woman, Old Man, and Flower I, 1923, oil on canvas, 97 ⫻ 130 cm (S/M 659). Destroyed. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 4.10. Anonymous, Dissolving the Substance in the Water Bath, from Ernst Darmstaedter, Die Alchemie des Geber (Berlin: J. Springer, 1922), 114.

cylindrical figure encased in brick has an opening vent in its abdomen and a pointed base, recalling the spinning top of Ernst’s childhood hallucination. The cylindrical anthropomorphic figures in the center of Woman, Old Man, and Flower I can be compared to the alchemical athanor, the furnace containing the alembic, the vessel in which the King and Queen are united. In a plate from Darmstaedter’s Geber (Fig. 4.10), an alchemist stands beside a large cylindrical athanor holding a vessel within a water bath. Early alchemical furnaces were made of brick to withstand the heat, and they usually had vents for stoking and for controlling the admission of oxygen. Furnaces and brick walls can be found in several Ernst paintings from Cologne and the early Paris years, including his comic self-portrait Blue Monkey (S/M 501). One of Ernst’s first furnaces appears in Winter Landscape, 1920 (Fig. 3.2), an overpainting in which a furnace was retained from the original chemical chart. In Woman, Old


the occultation of sur realism Man, and Flower I, and in Emperor Ubu (S/M 631),46 Ernst created versions of the alchemical athanor conflated with images of his parents’ sexual union. The profusion of alchemical imagery that Ernst produced throughout 1923 began to have an impact on his fellow surrealists, whose own hermetic investigations were already under way. In October, a special issue of Littérature devoted to poetry included a two-page spread, titled “Erutarettil” (“Littérature” spelled backward), giving the names of the surrealists’ favorite writers, poets, and philosophers of the past.47 Heading the list are four alchemists, “Hermès trismégiste, [Ramón] Lull, [Nicolas] Flamel, and Corneille Agrippa,” indicated with different type fonts and sizes. Although several writers receive higher ranking, indicated by a larger typeface, the inclusion of these alchemists in Littérature reversed their absence from earlier lists and questionnaires. Also included on the facing page was the name of Péladan, the founder and leader of a Rosicrucian group known as the Aesthetic Rose-Croix during the occult revival. Throughout this issue of Littérature Ernst embellished the surrealist poems with line drawings that underscored the new hermetic direction of the group. Some of these drawings suggested experimentation with occult activities during the “époque des sommeils,” such as somnambulism, table turning, crystal gazing, and palm reading.48 Others were specifically alchemical, such as the tailpiece for a poem titled “Portrait of Robert Desnos,” depicting a man whose head was replaced by a bellows, the universal tool for fanning the fires of the athanor furnace.49 In one drawing, a headless woman reclines on the floor beside two lively animated vessels (Fig. 4.11). The symbolic parallels between her body and the vessels are underscored by her position on the floor. The opening in her neck leading to the interior of her body has been sealed by a chastity belt at the lower end. Visual parallels between vessels and human and animal forms were common in alchemical texts (Fig. 4.12).50 The vessel on the left parallels the shape of a headless woman’s body, while two interlocking vessels on the right are compared to an embracing couple. The visual similarities between a headless woman and alchemical vessels reiterate the message found in many of Ernst’s alchemical paintings—that a woman’s body is like the alchemical vessel because both are sites for the act of love. Throughout 1923, the theme of sexual intercourse recurred frequently in Ernst’s paintings as his passionate affair with Gala continued. In April, the trio moved to a new home in Eaubonne, near the forest of Montmorency,


Fig. 4.11. Max Ernst, The Cold Throats, illustration for a poem by Robert Desnos, in Littérature n.s., nos. 11–12 (October 15, 1923): 7 (S/M 517). © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Fig. 4.12. Anonymous, Alchemical Vessels, from G. Phaneg, Cinquante merveilles secrets d’alchimie (Paris: Chacornac, 1912), 76 –77.

the occultation of sur realism where Max occupied a sunny studio on the top floor. Every morning, Max and Paul took the train to work, leaving only Sundays for painting and writing. The logistics of this ménage à trois may never be discovered, but for a while at least his friendship with Paul was intact. Max offered to decorate the house with a series of paintings that were recovered only in the late 1960s, long forgotten and covered with paint.51 Astrological imagery appears in the frieze painted in Cécile’s room.52 One panel, titled You May as Well Dream of Opening the Doors to the Sea (S/M 652), contains two fish swimming in opposite directions, a traditional symbol for Pisces. The other side of this same panel contains two men floating back to back, an image related to the Gemini images discussed above. Earlier in Max and Gala’s affair, Paul’s position had been one of acceptance, even nonchalance. During the trio’s rendezvous in Tarrenz in the summer of 1922, in the midst of Gala’s Russian melodrama over the affair, Paul was overheard to say, “Well, I love Max Ernst much more than I do Gala.” 53 After a year and a half of living together, however, Eluard’s patience was beginning to wear thin.54 What was for Ernst one of the most productive years of his life became for Eluard a period of increasing listlessness, depression, and dependency on alcohol. He was also plagued by gambling debts. In April 1924, Eluard suddenly disappeared, absconding with 17,000 francs given to him by his father to deposit in the bank. He wrote his parents from Monaco, revealing his frustrations concerning the situation in Eaubonne, and caught a boat headed toward the Pacific. On his trip, he wrote to Gala and eventually asked her and Max to join him. In order to finance their trips to Indochina, Max went to Düsseldorf, possibly accompanied by Gala, to sell several paintings to his longtime friend and patron, Johanna Ey. In July, Gala sold other paintings from the Eluards’ private collection at auction in Paris. She arrived in Saigon first, and Max joined them sometime later.55 There they reached an agreement that Gala would remain with Paul. The Eluards returned together to Paris in early September, while Max remained in Indochina to explore what would become Vietnam and Cambodia. Arriving back in Paris late in the year, he moved into an apartment on the rue Tourlacque in Montmartre, near the studios of Miró and Arp. The romantic turmoil in Ernst’s personal life had distanced him from the dramatic events occurring back in Paris. In October 1924, Breton issued the first Surrealist Manifesto, defining surrealism as “pure psychic automatism” and insisting on the freedom to experiment with automatic creative methods.


max er nst and alchemy Ernst’s painting style, with its realistically delineated forms and its densely symbolic motifs, suddenly appeared outmoded. Ernst later explained that he adopted new methods when the old ones no longer pleased him.56 At this point in his career, he recalled that the “classicizing” format of his earlier paintings had led to boredom and to feeling restricted “like a monk in a cloister.” That may have been the case, but a major stylistic change was inevitable at this point in order for Ernst to align himself more closely with the movement’s shift toward automatism. His solution came the following summer, on August 10, 1925, in the small seaside village of Pornic in Brittany.57 On another auspicious rainy day, while recalling the childhood visions he had conjured up by staring at a fake mahogany panel, he was suddenly struck by the patterns in the floorboards. He placed some pieces of paper over the wooden planks and rubbed them with lead pencil so that the graining patterns were transferred onto the paper. Although partial rubbings existed in Ernst’s early Dada works, he did not pursue this technique as an end in itself until 1925. Ernst emphasized the automatic nature of this new “hypnagogical” method, which he called “frottage,” a process in which the artist remained a passive “spectator at the birth of pictures.” He soon experimented with other objects to produce a variety of textures, “leaves and their veins, the unravelled edges of sackcloth, the palette-knife markings on a ‘modern’ picture, thread unrolled from its spool. . . .” Continuing into the next year, he created numerous frottages, from which he selected thirty-four to reproduce as photogravures in a series titled Histoire naturelle.58 The series combined cosmological, botanical, zoological, and anthropomorphic motifs related to some of his earlier Dada overpaintings and to the more recent Eaubonne wall paintings. Many of the images within the series are clearly related, although no single cohesive narrative binds them together. On the surface, they marked a dramatic shift in subject matter and technique from the early Paris paintings. The frottage process combined a passive rubbing and its automatic provocation of imagery with an active intervention of the artist, who turned the random patterns into recognizable forms. The frottage process was inherently alchemical, because it transformed base matter—floorboards, leaves, or twine—into works of revelation.59 The external influences on these images were many, including earlier authors, such as Buffon, who devised scientific classifications of the natural world, as well as the more spiritual attempts, like those of Jacob Böhme and Novalis, to sit-


the occultation of sur realism uate the creation of the world within a hermetic cosmological framework. The duality of process in these frottages produced a lively dialogue between the trompe l’oeil effects of the wood grain and the abstract patterns produced by multiple rubbings. In another frottage, Chemical Wedding (Fig. 4.13), two plants with circular blossoms appear like fluted mushrooms on a barren plane. One leans over to touch the other, and at that tangential point they begin to grow together.

Fig. 4.13. Max Ernst, Chemical Wedding (Les Noces chimiques), 1923, pencil frottage on paper, 20.8 ⫻ 16.2 cm (S/M 842). The Menil Collection, Houston. Photo by Taylor & Dull. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


max er nst and alchemy This image of botanical fusion and its title indicate the romantic conjunction of the alchemical King and Queen. This frottage, and others in Histoire naturelle, revealed Ernst’s continuing preoccupation with alchemical imagery, now transformed within the framework of natural history and more abstracted imagery. The connections between the cycles of nature and alchemy are underscored in an engraving that symbolizes the seven metals, the four elements, the operations, and the colors of the work (Fig. 4.14).60 An adept explains

Fig. 4.14. Balthazar Schwan, The Seven Metals, the Four Elements, the Operations and Colors of the Work, from J. D. Mylius, Philosophica Reformata (Frankfurt: Lucas Jennis,1622). Courtesy Glasgow University Library, Department of Special Collections.


the occultation of sur realism the alchemical mysteries to a young initiate beneath a large tree containing the sun and the moon and five stars (representing the seven ancient planets). These small details signify that within nature the alchemist finds all that is necessary to complete the work. This emblem also illustrates the many ways in which birds are used to represent alchemical concepts. Around the tree are seven small circles, filled largely with birds, that represent significant stages and alchemical operations. The black stage of nigredo, in which the two opposing properties are separated and destroyed, is represented in the first circle on the left by a crow standing on a skull to symbolize the separation of the black and white stages. The completion of the purifying white stage of albedo is represented in the fourth circle by two birds flying upward and holding a crown. Rubedo, the red stage of heating and chemical conjunction, is represented by a unicorn with a rosebush, as white turns to red. The appearance of the Philosopher’s Stone is represented by a young child who emerges from a tomb in the seventh circle. In a woodcut discussed earlier (Fig. 1.3), the principal colors of black, white, and red are represented by appropriately colored birds—a raven or crow (black), a swan (white), and a phoenix that stands amid the flames (red). Birds, or any winged creature, represent the volatilization of matter, and ascending and descending birds represent gases that rise and fall during the processes of evaporation and condensation. Another bird at the lower right edge of this emblem symbolizes the element air. The remaining elements, fire, earth, and water, are represented by a dragon, the sun god Apollo seated on a lion, and the moon goddess Diana riding a fish. In Ernst’s paintings of the mid-twenties, images of birds increased exponentially, continuing to carry the mythic biographical references of his childhood as well as Freudian interpretations of sexuality. Ernst adapted his frottage process into “grattage,” a technique in which a painted canvas is placed over rough objects; then, with subsequent scraping of the canvas, random layers of paint are removed. In these grattage paintings, caged or flying birds continue the conjoined themes of sexual repression and freedom, and eventually lead to the birth in the late 1920s of Loplop, the bird-persona of Ernst’s alter ego. Some are paired as black and white doves, as in Black Dove, Pale Dove (S/M 767), White Dove (Golden Dove) (S/M 768), and White Dove and Black Doves (S/M 1113), while others appear in droves, as in 100,000 Doves (S/M 1025).


max er nst and alchemy In one of Ernst’s first grattage paintings, Bird Marriage (Fig. 4.15), birds cluster around an elliptical vessel-like shape that hovers in the center of the canvas. Dark gray birds have fallen to the ground below. Emerging from the interior of the vessel is the head of the bird, a bright red circular form containing an eye reminiscent of the Wheel of Light (S/M 818), a frottage included in Histoire

Fig. 4.15. Max Ernst, Bird Marriage (Vogelhochzeit), 1925, oil on canvas, 80.5 ⫻ 65 cm (S/M 1030). Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


the occultation of sur realism naturelle.61 Red within the alchemical vessel indicates the rubedo stage, the successful conjunction of the King and Queen and the appearance of their son, the Philosopher’s Stone. Ernst had used the color red to indicate the appearance of this red child since the Dada years, as in Dada Gauguin (Fig. 3.4) and The Scissors and Their Father (Fig. 3.7). Red circular forms appear elsewhere, attached to the anatomical structures in the background of the Cologne watercolor, Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Fig. 3.6), and held by Max Morise in Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1). Red berries are included in the Eaubonne paintings for Paul and Gala’s bedroom, Natural History (S/M 640) and At the First Clear Word (S/M 641). The red flower in Blue Monkey (S/M 501) and the walking red windpipe in Long Live Love (S/M 616) continue this motif. The bird, with its multiple associations to Christ, to Freud’s analysis of Leonardo da Vinci, and to alchemical operations, evolved into the artist’s personal symbol. Ernst’s friends often remarked upon his resemblance to a bird, characterized by his sharp piercing eyes and extended nose. In occult literature, charting the physiognomic similarities between human beings and their animal counterparts was a method of determining personality types, as seen in a comparative chart illustrated by Poinsot (Fig. 4.16).62 At the top of the illustration, a man with features somewhat similar to Ernst’s is compared to a large crow. Poinsot described those who resemble crows as sharp, clever, impudent, and rapacious people, while those who look like eagles have a superior character and are filled with courage and resolution. In Ecritures, Ernst summarized his images of the late 1920s by reprinting several pertinent observations made by his friends.63 Waldberg’s remark that the “painting of Max Ernst is essentially emblematic” introduced his discussion of the development of his favorite emblem, the bird. Ernst also included the perceptive remarks of Alain Bosquet: . . . birth, death and eternal return are things glimpsed but still imperceptible, such is undoubtedly the meaning of the canvases from 1925 – 27, of which Monument to the Birds remains the most illustrious example. It seems that in those works, which are among the most dense and the most poetically disturbing created in the ten years after the Treaty of Versailles, Max Ernst was engaged in the search for an alchemical formula where the great perturbations of the conscious and the unconscious are reconciled. He had at that time two simultaneous needs, one of an almost monastic formal perfec-


max er nst and alchemy tion, and the other of an extension where the abstraction of the concept is rejoined to a poetic art of existence. . . .64 Bosquet characterized these images as the search for an alchemical formula, and he recognized that Ernst’s interest in alchemy went beyond a random appropriation of arcane symbols. It was the very process of his art making. In Ernst’s frottages and grattages, alchemical symbols continued as the artist transformed abstract patterns into hermetic imagery. His fascination with alchemy was mirrored in surrealist publications during this period. In addition to its celebration of psychic automatic creative processes, Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto (1924) contains several references to the occult. Echoing

Fig. 4.16. Comparisons to Animals, M. C. Poinsot, Encyclopédie des sciences occultes (Paris: Editions Georges-Anquetil, 1925), 128.


the occultation of sur realism his earlier “Entrée des mediums” article, Breton praises Desnos’s ability to tap into his thoughts so immediately and labels automatic writing the “Secrets of the Magical Surrealist Art.” 65 He mentions his astrological sun sign, Pisces, in connection to his contemporaneous surrealist text, “Soluble Fish,” a work evoking numerous hermetic images, including a magic fountain, a phantom, séances, a countryside of red and white bones, cast spells, a white eagle, and so forth.66 Throughout that essay the four elements are used to create the mood for its segmented episodes—the earth in underground caverns and crystals, water in rain and waterfalls, fire as clothing and as a furnace with blue eyes, air as the wind and waves of incense. At this time, Breton also wrote the words that were later inscribed on his tombstone, “Je cherche l’or du temps” (“I seek the gold of time”).67 In “Idées d’un peintre” in Les Pas perdus (1924), Breton related his discussions with Derain concerning seventeenth-century still life painters.68 Derain had spoken of a certain point blanc (“white point”) that these painters were able to achieve in their works. This term appeared in italics, and suggested the attainment of the “white phase” of alchemy. Breton added, “One knows that the artists in question frequented alchemical laboratories,” referring to the large body of prints and paintings from the seventeenth century with alchemy as their theme, although typically those Baroque artists portrayed alchemy as a symbol of human folly. Several articles reveal the surrealists’ admiration for mediums. In 1925, Breton wrote “Lettre aux voyantes” (“Letter to Seers”), in which he spoke of their immense power and their unfortunately reduced living circumstances.69 He equated their patient perseverance amid scorn from the official scientific community to that of Nicolas Flamel: “The invention of the Philosopher’s Stone by Nicolas Flamel was met with hardly any belief, for the simple reason that the great alchemist did not seem to be rich enough.” 70 Actually, Flamel was reputed to have been one of the few wealthy alchemists. Breton asserted that it would have been foolish for Flamel to be concerned only with a few parcels of gold, “when above all, he had amassed such a spiritual fortune.” Breton understood the underlying goal of the alchemical quest, that the alchemist strives for enlightenment and not simply the pursuit of gold. The following year, Antonin Artaud wrote a similar article, “Lettre à la voyante,” in the form of a letter to a woman whose psychic powers he described as a subterranean penetration into the world of things.71 He felt almost powerless in her presence, and he praised her ability to renew his spirit


max er nst and alchemy like some mysterious wine. Several of the early male surrealists felt that women had more direct access to the unconscious and were thus more adept at developing these extrasensory powers. Indeed, several of the women involved in the surrealist group in the early 1920s had taken an active part in the trance experiments of the “sommeils.” Louis Aragon’s article “Entrée des succubes” was a tribute to those female demon-spirits who visit men during sleep, causing nocturnal emissions.72 He claimed to have met them, carrying all the marks of hell, although they rarely revealed themselves to the unsuspecting public. Whether they appeared as mediums or as succubi, women were predisposed to hermetic seeing. The central figure in Breton’s Nadja (1928) showed many clairvoyant characteristics, including her analysis of Ernst’s Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Fig. 4.4). In the narrative, Breton related the story surrounding Ernst’s refusal to paint Nadja’s portrait. A medium, Madame Sacco, whose photograph was reproduced in the book (Fig. 4.17), predicted

Fig. 4.17. Photograph of Madame Sacco, Clairvoyant, from André Breton, Nadja, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1960), plate 19. Reproduced courtesy of Grove Press.


the occultation of sur realism

Fig. 4.18. Man Ray, Once Again, Now I See Robert Desnos . . . , from André Breton, Nadja, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1960), plate 19. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

that Ernst would meet a woman named Nadia or Natasha who would harm the woman he loved.73 This served as sufficient warning, for Ernst and Nadja never met. Breton also reproduced a photograph of Robert Desnos emerging from a trance state (Fig. 4.18), like those induced earlier during the “sommeils.” During this period, Breton also completed Surrealism and Painting (1928).74 Having weathered attacks by Naville and others who doubted the possibility of a truly automatic visual art, Breton traced the development of surreal-


max er nst and alchemy ism in painting, reconstructing and emphasizing its hermetic beginnings. He recalled an incident when he and Aragon were in a café one evening with de Chirico.75 Aragon noticed the strange features of a child selling flowers and wondered aloud if he were not a ghost. Without turning, de Chirico looked at the boy reflected through a small pocket mirror and announced conclusively that he was. Breton recalled another evening in a café with Ernst, soon after they first met, when they tried an experiment in telekinesis. Ernst swore that once in Cologne he had seen a “phenomen[on] of levitation” whereby some hats and overcoats had magically moved to another distant rack without human intervention.76 Breton and Ernst tried to repeat the experiment without success. Supposedly, the earlier incident caused Ernst to refuse to admit any fixity to the figures in his painting, as if they could leave his canvases at any time. Elsewhere in this essay, Breton compared both Ernst and Man Ray to the alchemist Ramón Lull.77 These increasing references to alchemy were prompted in part by the publication of Fulcanelli’s Mystères des cathédrales (1926), with its explanations of alchemical manuscripts and symbols hidden within the sculptural details of Notre Dame cathedral and other buildings in and around Paris.78 The surrealists conducted walking tours of these mysterious passageways haunted by the ghosts of former alchemists.79 Their explorations served as the basis for the narratives of Aragon’s Le Paysan de Paris (1926) and Breton’s Nadja (1928), and although de Chirico was no longer in favor with the surrealists, his book Hebdomeros (1929) is closely related to these narratives and to Ernst’s later collage novels.80 The hero, Hebdomeros, whose name is a play on the alchemical number seven, has a picture of the god Mercury above his bed. In 1929, Grillot de Givry’s Musée des sorciers provided additional information on alchemical symbolism and other occult disciplines. Filled with reproductions of paintings, prints, and manuscript illuminations from a variety of hermetic paths, and with three chapters devoted to alchemy, this book provided ample evidence of an artistic heritage of occult imagery (Fig. 2.2). That same year, Robert Desnos published an account of Paris’s most famous alchemical sites in an article titled “Le Mystère d’Abraham Juif,” citing Grillot de Givry’s Musée des sorciers as one of his sources.81 He began by recounting the tale of Nicolas Flamel, the most famous alchemist of the city of Paris. Flamel discovered a beautiful old book filled with strange letters


the occultation of sur realism and symbols, and authored by “Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite, Astrologer, and Philosopher to the Jewish people.” Frustrated in his attempts to decipher the manuscript, Flamel took a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James 82 at Santiago de Compostela to seek help from the Jewish community at the Spanish synagogue. There he met a converted Jewish doctor named Master Canches, who was filled with joy and astonishment upon seeing the manuscript and who instructed Flamel in unlocking its secrets. The doctor died soon afterward under suspicious circumstances. Flamel returned alone to France, where on January 17, 1382, aided by his wife, Pérenelle, he transformed mercury into silver, and on April 25 created pure gold. Desnos noted parenthetically that Flamel undoubtedly used “philosophical” mercury in his experiments.83 Flamel’s hieroglyphics were carved on the wall of the cemetery of the Church of the Innocents, and although this structure was destroyed during the French Revolution, its images have been retained in prints.84 Desnos also reproduced and explained the alchemical symbolism in three illustrations from the Bibliothèque Nationale’s eighteenth-century copy of Flamel’s manuscript.85 In the second half of the article, Desnos remembered the enchanted environs of this quartier in Paris, where he grew up as a child in a house at the corner of the rues Saint-Martin and des Lombards.86 A map from a Blue Guide of 1924 indicated many of these sites (Fig. 4.19), which were related to Flamel, his wife, Pérenelle, and the alchemical tradition. Desnos evoked the nymphs of Jean Goujon, who haunted these areas along the rue SaintMartin, the rue des Escrivains, and the Tour Saint Jacques. Here they met the ghosts of other famous inhabitants, including the murderous criminal Liabeuf and the poet Gérard de Nerval, “whose sonnets of the chimeras are perhaps the masterpiece of occult poetry.” To Desnos, these phantoms were real: “Oui, les fantômes existent.” 87 He described the magic landscape of the Square of the Innocents, the site of Flamel’s former cemetery near Les Halles. Arriving at four in the morning, he found the market brilliantly illuminated by lamplight over the pyramids of turnips and carrots, “where the white and the red were set in the green, on the black and resplendent asphalt.” Desnos also referred to the “black lion of putrefied gold,” the “red lion of internal ferment,” and the “white lion who rides in the figures of the book of the king who triumphs over death.” All of these colors were italicized in the article, indicating Desnos’s intention to emphasize their


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 4.19. Les Halles District, from Les Guides Bleus: Paris et ses environs (Paris: Hachette, 1924), opp. 38.

alchemical color symbolism, which he credited to the recently published MusĂŠe des sorciers.88 Each year as a child, Desnos was particularly drawn to the church of SaintMerri, indicated on the map just above the Tour Saint Jacques. This earlysixteenth-century church has several strange sculptural aberrations, including a winged devil at the apex of the tallest archivolt surrounding the central portal. This detail led many to believe that this church had been the site of heretical ceremonies.89 Its sculptural program also contains several alchemical details. On opposite sides of the right portal, a man holding a sack and a woman with a medieval coif may be Flamel with his bag of gold and his wife, PĂŠrenelle. Around the central portal, large salamander-like dragons, recalling the dragon of St. Marcel, curl their tails around lively sculptural oak leaves with three-part lobes (Fig. 4.20).90 These animated sculptures are similar to those found at the four edges of


the occultation of sur realism Ernst’s Inside the Sight: The Egg (Fig. 4.21). On the bottom left is a dragon leafcreature with an opened mouth turned upward. At the bottom right, male and female creatures, combining leaf and avian features, are fused as if witnessed during the act of love. Inside the oval enclosure, three abstracted birds illustrate another variation on Ernst’s bird theme. This grouping has been compared to emblems of the female pelican, which is said to feed its children with blood from its breast.91 This bizarre image derives from the pelican’s habit of pecking at its esophagus to regurgitate food for its young. Christian symbolism equated this scene to Christ and his personal sacrifice for

Fig. 4.20. Salamander/ dragon detail, central portal of the Church of Saint Merri, early sixteenth century, photo by M. E. Warlick.


max er nst and alchemy humanity. In alchemical emblems, the pelican motif, often conflated with that of the phoenix, depicted a mother bird and chicks standing in flames, and it is one of many symbols for the red phase of the work (Fig. 1.3, bottom left). Furthermore, pelican-shaped vessels were also standard equipment in the laboratory (Fig. 4.22). The oval shape enclosing the birds in Ernst’s

Fig. 4.21. Max Ernst, Inside the Sight: The Egg (A l’intérieur de la vue: L’Oeuf ), 1929, oil on canvas, 98.5 ⫻ 79.4 cm (S/M 1577). The Menil Collection, Houston. Photo by Hickey-Robertson. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


the occultation of sur realism

Fig. 4.22. Anonymous, Pelican-shaped Alchemical Vessel, illustration from G. Phaneg, Cinquante merveilles secrets d’alchimie (Paris: Chacornac, 1912), 74.

painting is reminiscent of the symbolic alembic that encircles Silberer’s Rebis (Fig. 3.1) as well as Ernst’s Memory of God (Fig. 4.7) and the Bird Marriage (Fig. 4.15). The connection between the circular shape enclosing the birds and the alchemical alembic is reinforced by the subtitle of this painting, The Egg, since one of the most common terms for the alembic is the Philosophic Egg.92 Red and white circles emphasize the alchemical colors of the male and female substances in the vessel. The nearby Tour Saint Jacques, also mentioned in Desnos’s article and later photographed by Brassaï for Minotaure, was a favorite haunt of the surrealists.93 The tower (1509–1523) is all that remains of a late Gothic church, Saint Jacques de la Boucherie, destroyed during the French Revolution. At the top of the tower are three animals—a lion, a winged ox, and an eagle— and an angel, figures restored during the nineteenth century. The three original animals, greatly weathered by time, guarded the corners of the surrounding square. Symbols of the evangelists, they have also been interpreted alchemically.94 The church itself was connected both to the Saint James legend and to alchemy, because its greatest expansion occurred during the lifetime of Nicolas Flamel. Saint-Merri is also connected to Saint James and to the medieval cult of this saint, whose symbol was a scallop shell worn by the many pilgrims to his sacred shrines.95 A damaged half figure on the façade of Saint-Merri holds a shield with three shells, and Saint James him-


max er nst and alchemy self is depicted with a necklace of scallop shells in a full-length sculpture beside the central portal. The church of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela was the goal of the pilgrims because in medieval times it was believed that he both preached on the Iberian peninsula and was buried there.96 Although the bestknown pilgrimage routes connected Romanesque churches of southern France and northern Spain, they began in northern France, and some extended to Brussels, Cologne, and Bristol. In Paris, the route traditionally began at the Church of Saint Jacques de la Boucherie, where the pilgrims’ staffs were blessed. They started their journey by crossing the river to the rue Saint Jacques, past the towers and drawbridge of the Porte Saint Jacques, and then on to the Roman road toward Orléans.97 The connection between Saint James and alchemy results from the tale of Nicolas Flamel, who went to Santiago de Compostela to find help in deciphering the manuscript of Abraham the Jew. In the late 1920s, when the surrealists conducted walking tours through Flamel’s quartier of Paris, these alchemical sites of Saint James may have inspired Ernst’s series of grattage paintings of shell-flowers. Several sources for these abstracted images have been offered, including images of hailstones found in La Nature.98 In these shell-flowers Ernst joins the scallop shells of Saint James and the shell symbol of Aphrodite/Venus, the goddess of love, thus creating a floralcrustacean Androgyne, in which male and female symbols are fused once again. Prior to 1928, hermetic references in surrealist works tended to be of secondary importance, but after that time alchemy was a recognizably major preoccupation of many in the group, and would remain so.99 By the late 1920s, a great deal of evidence exists that the surrealists were investigating hermetic manuscripts. Michel Leiris’s review of John Dee’s La Monade hieroglyphique, published in La Révolution surréaliste, mentioned the cabala, alchemists, and the Philosopher’s Stone.100 Manuscript illuminations were reproduced in periodicals, such as the three plates from Flamel’s manuscript found in Desnos’s article. In another article Leiris discussed two other illuminations, each of a man inside a circle, relating these figures to the cabalistic theories of the microcosm and the macrocosm.101 He described the famous design by Leonardo da Vinci, made to illustrate Vitruvius, of a man inscribed within a circle and a square, and compared the design to the magic pentagram


the occultation of sur realism of Cornelius Agrippa, a symbol for the microcosm drawn from Agrippa’s Philosophie occulte II. The Second Manifesto of surrealism appeared in December 1929, the same year that Desnos and Leiris published their articles.102 In the Manifesto both men were criticized by Breton, who also commented that their friend Georges Bataille let “his librarian fingers wander over old and sometimes charming manuscripts.” He chided Desnos for reproducing the illustrations from Flamel’s manuscript, but then praised them nevertheless later in the document. Breton also described two of the alchemical illustrations from Abraham Juif. The first adapted the theme of the “Massacre of the Innocents” by King Herod. In the drawing, soldiers gather the blood of these young children into a large vessel in which the sun and the moon bathe together. The other illustration represents a battle between the winged god Mercury, holding his caduceus, and the god Saturn, an old man with a scythe and an hourglass on his head. Breton asked if this wasn’t the surrealist picture.103 Breton described their key symbolic elements without elaborate interpretation. In a note, he stated that his comments concerning the manuscript of Abraham the Jew had been written just prior to the appearance of Desnos’s article. Breton felt that he and Desnos, unknown to each other, had selected this topic through a kind of extrasensory thought transmission. In a note published later in Documents, it was clarified that when Michel Leiris proposed the article on Abraham the Jew, Desnos had never heard of him, and Bataille had selected the illustrations.104 Although these facts disprove Breton’s suggestion of thought transmission, clearly Flamel and his manuscript were sufficiently “in the air.” The Second Manifesto was a complex statement of the changing priorities of the movement by the late 1920s. While the alchemical references constituted only a small portion of the document, they were placed strategically near the end and served to summarize the new aims of the movement. Breton drew a comparison between Rimbaud’s “L’Alchimie du verbe” and Flamel’s manuscript of Abraham Juif. Flamel had to decipher the latter’s enigmatic symbols before he attained any success with his experiments. Likewise, the works of Rimbaud, Lautréamont, and a few others, once they were understood, were essential to the surrealists for the formulation of their own goals. Breton then chided Rimbaud for not going far enough.


max er nst and alchemy “Alchemy of the Word”: one can equally regret that the word “verbe” is taken here in a somewhat restrictive sense, and Rimbaud, moreover, seems to recognize that “outmoded poetics” hold too important a role in this alchemy. The word is more, and, for the cabalists, it is nothing less, for example, than that in the image of which the human soul is created. . . .105 This is a significant passage, revealing Breton’s understanding that the purpose of the cabalist’s interpretation of passages from the Scriptures was to equate language with the structure of the human soul. Breton understood the philosophical and spiritual quests of the cabalists and the alchemists and wanted to imbue his words with that much power. When the Philosopher’s Stone appeared, the alchemist was able to transmute the purified matter into gold. Breton made an analogy between the Stone and the faculty of the imagination that permitted the poetic metamorphosis of surrealist writing. He equated the alchemical process to the liberation of the human mind: The Surrealists’ investigations present a remarkable analogy of goal with those of the alchemists: the Philosopher’s Stone is nothing other than that which enables man’s imagination to take a stunning revenge on all things, which brings us newly here, after centuries of the mind’s domestication and insane resignation, to the attempt to liberate once and for all this imagination, by the “long, immense, reasoned derangement of all the senses. . . .” 106 He did not intend to “resume the habit of swallowing the hearts of moles or of listening, as to the beating of our own heart, [to] that of water boiling in a boiler.” Rather, he called for the return of the “Furor” spoken of by Cornelius Agrippa.107 The alchemists guarded their secrets against the unworthy, and likewise Breton warned against letting the public enter. “I demand the profound, the veritable occultation of surrealism.” 108 Breton was playing with words, calling simultaneously for the shielding of surrealism from co-optation by a social machinery fundamentally hostile to its aims and for a sympathetic investigation of occultist traditions, which he and his friends had come to regard as anticipations of the surrealist project.


the occultation of sur realism But I intend that people ask me how to bring about this occultation. . . . I think that there would be great interest if we could attempt a serious investigation into those sciences which for various reasons are today completely discredited, such as astrology, among all of these ancient sciences, metaphysics (especially as it concerns the study of cryptesthesia) among the modern sciences. It is a question only of approaching these sciences with a minimum of necessary mistrust, and suffice to say, in both cases, to have a precise— and positive—idea of the calculus of probabilities. . . . In the course of diverse experiments conceived under the form of “parlor games” whose value as entertainment, or even as recreation, does not seem to me to any way affect their importance.109 Strikingly, the surrealists’ mounting interest in alchemy paralleled their deepening study of the philosophy of Hegel and their growing identification with Marxism, as well as their active involvement in the Communist Party and in the struggle against colonialism. Historically, occultism has often been associated with conservative and even reactionary politics,110 but the surrealists were different. Just as their reading of Hegel and Marx had led them to conclusions quite distinct from those of academic Hegelians and orthodox Marxists, so too their pursuit of alchemy radically distinguished them from the prevailing trends in occultism. These impassioned readers of the writings of Nicolas Flamel and Basil Valentine were also writers of articles titled “Atheism and Revolution” and “Armed Insurrection,” protesters of France’s Colonial Exhibition, and supporters of the Scottsboro defendants in the United States, and were vociferous in their denunciations of capitalism, racism, the family, fatherland, organized religion, sports, and the police. Among such seemingly dissimilar paths of thought as alchemy, Hegelian philosophy, and Marxism, the surrealists recognized vital correspondences and “elective affinities.” In their view, to overcome what Marx called “alienation”—that is, to resolve the contradiction between the individual and society— requires social revolution, but for this revolution to be truly emancipatory in turn demands the complementary process of individual self-revelation. As Breton put it in a well-known formulation: “‘Transform the world!’ said Marx. ‘Change life!’ said Rimbaud. These two commands are for us but one.” In other words, the transformation of the internal world through poetry and


max er nst and alchemy love goes hand in hand with the revolutionary social transformation of the external world.111 Ernst concluded his essay “Danger de pollution” with a statement that love rediscovered and conceived within the collective unconscious was not possible under the reign of clerical and capitalist police.112 Breton’s numerous references to alchemy in the Second Manifesto heralded a new phase for the surrealist movement, although the Manifesto’s call for a rededication to the investigations of ancient hermetic sciences was a strategy that Ernst had been following for some time. Ernst’s continued involvement with alchemical imagery throughout the decade contributed significantly to the metamorphosis of the surrealist movement toward its new “occultation.” From his densely emblematic paintings of the early 1920s through his later frottage and grattage experiments, alchemical symbolism was persistently present. Ernst signed the Second Manifesto as one of those “in agreement with André Breton on all points.” As had often happened in the past, this dramatic juncture in the surrealist movement echoed an equally dramatic artistic breakthrough for Ernst himself. As the surrealists affirmed their dedication to hermeticism, Ernst’s art went through yet another metamorphosis, and he returned to the art of collage.



Collage as Alchemy

Er nst made his earliest collages in Cologne before moving to Paris. His discovery of the Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog in 1919 inspired his first Dada overpaintings and collages, in which he combined photographs, typographical fragments, book illustrations, wallpaper, advertisements, and other found images. Often these works revealed comic sexual allusions, stemming from his readings of Freud.2 Other works of this period, such as the previously discussed Dada Gauguin (Fig. 3.4), contained Ernst’s earliest experiments with alchemical imagery. Ernst often created hybrids by combining human figures with birds, animals, masks, or machine parts. Sexuality and metamorphosis were pervading themes. His combinations of human figures with birds were his first manifestations of the “dangerous confusion between birds and humans” that he experienced as a child,3 a preoccupation with bird imagery that continued throughout his career. Already in these Dada collages, such as the FaTaGaGa works created in collaboration with Hans Arp, it was difficult to distinguish the component collage elements except through close inspection. Individual pieces were cut and assembled so that their shared contours created a strong structural integrity in the new hybrid form. Partial images were incorporated, but their placement within the image contributed to, rather than detracted from, the visual cohesion of the collage. With gouache or pencil, Ernst created perspectival spaces around these newly formed creatures to preserve the clarity 1


max er nst and alchemy of figure-ground relationships. The resulting collage, although jarring in its visual impact, remained physically intact and unified as an image. With this approach Ernst distanced himself from both the cubist papiers collés and the fragmented collages made by Berlin Dada artists.4 The cubists used bits of newspaper, wallpaper, partial words, letters, and other found images combined with painted surfaces to create the abstracted spatial constructions of early synthetic cubism. They appropriated fragments of the real world as compositional elements or as bits of color, retaining torn or cut edges to emphasize the randomness and eclectic nature of their selection. In the final image, the abstraction of the composition vied with the realistic aspects of its diverse component parts. In contrast, Ernst obscured the distinctions between part and whole in his collages. Although his Dada works were composed of stylistically dissimilar materials, Ernst stressed the unity of the resulting image. Many of the photographic collages were rephotographed in order to conceal their edges.5 In an early letter, Ernst asked Tzara to instruct the engraver to hide the seams in his FaTaGaGa collages, so that the process of their construction would remain a mystery.6 Ernst’s unique contributions to the development of collage were recognized by the surrealists who first saw his collages during his exhibition at the Galerie Au Sans Pareil in May 1921. Ernst sent several of his recently constructed multimedia works through the mail to André Breton. Technically, only a few of these works were actually collages.7 In a famous quip Ernst once stated, “Ce n’est pas la colle qui fait le collage”—“It’s not the paste that makes the collage.” 8 This pun on the French word colle (paste or glue) captured his attitude to the collage process. Even though these works were carefully constructed, the technical process was less important than the final image and its surprising juxtaposition of component parts. The surrealists immediately understood the distinctions between Ernst’s approach and that of the cubist artists, as well as the significance of these works to the development of surrealist imagery.9 Aragon later characterized Ernst’s manipulation of collage as his ability to “acclimatize the phantom,” a phrase that Ernst acknowledged had captured the essence of his intent.10 In the summer of 1921, soon after the Paris exhibition, when he and Lou were vacationing in Tarrenz with the Arps, Tzara, and Maya Chruszec, Ernst made his first collage entirely of wood engravings, The Preparation of Glue from Bones (S/M 425), which was reproduced on the cover of their Dada Mani-


collage as alchemy festo, Dada au grand air or Der Sängerkrieg in Tirol.11 Ernst found the source illustration in a medical book depicting a young woman receiving diathermy therapy, a process producing heat through electrical current. The grotesque aspects of the original image were heightened with minimal additions. Tubes extending from glassware above and below the woman drain and replenish her reclining body as if she were undergoing some macabre laboratory experiment. Two small globes, one totally in shadow and the other in half-light, suggest some astronomical oversight of the process. Ernst’s exclusive use of wood-engraved illustrations in this collage created a heightened visual unity, and his careful cutting of its component parts forecast the meticulous fusion he would employ in his collages of the late 1920s. Ernst clearly recognized the provocative visual potential of nineteenthcentury wood engravings. In October he wrote to Tzara requesting additional source materials—“old department store catalogues, fashion magazines, old illustrations”—to “supplement my stock of FaTaGaGa raw material.” 12 Several of his collages were created with source illustrations taken from the French periodical La Nature, a popular science magazine profusely illustrated with wood engravings.13 Ernst was particularly drawn to a feature column dedicated to parlor tricks, scientific experiments, and optical illusions. Many collages and paintings of the early 1920s contained details that were clipped or reproduced from this column, contributing to a recurring theme of magic. For example, The Magician (S/M 455) was based on an illustration demonstrating a magic trick to multiply eggs.14 Although in the collage an armadillo covers the original egg, the magician’s top hat remains. Ernst and Eluard chose collages made from wood engravings to include in their first collaborative work, Répétitions. In Les Malheurs des immortels, a collage discussed previously, The Scissors and Their Father (Fig. 3.7), also contained a concealed “egg” and a magician’s hat. Already these early collages were imbued with a “magical” significance. Occasionally, Ernst included a traditional alchemical symbol, such as a bellows, the instrument used by alchemists to heat their furnaces.15 In an untitled collage (S/M 451), he added a bellows to a source illustration depicting different phases of the planet Venus with a series of crescent, semicircular, and fully rounded shapes.16 Ernst inverted the original image, adding thin white lines to create a subtle spatial environment and to transform the top left circle into a floating balloon. These shapes forecast the sun, moon, and suspended whistle in his later alchemical painting, Men Shall Know Noth-


max er nst and alchemy ing of This (Fig. 4.4), marking this collage as an important precursor to his most thoroughly alchemical work of the early 1920s.17 While still in Cologne, Ernst adapted the collage method in his paintings. Details were reproduced from found imagery, such as the hand holding the nut in Oedipus Rex (S/M 496), which was based on an illustration from La Nature, and the body of the elephant in The Elephant of the Celebes (S/M 466), which was adapted from an image of an African corn bin.18 Ernst’s camouflaged collage method continued in his early Paris paintings, although he abandoned this method in the mid-1920s in order to experiment with the more automatic techniques of frottage and grattage. Toward the end of the decade, concurrent with the surrealists’ increasing interest in alchemy, Ernst returned to collage once again.19 In the same issue of La Révolution surréaliste in which the Second Manifesto appeared, Ernst included three collages intended for a short collage series on the history of France that he never completed.20 In The Spirit of Locarno (S/M 1401), men and women ride through the air in a magic coach as if on their way to a witches’ sabbath. In Jeanne Hachette and Charles the Bold (S/M 1399), a swashbuckling hybrid male figure explodes from a floating barrel in which a beautiful woman remains calmly seated. Between the two figures is a small glass bottle shaped like an alchemical alembic. In the third collage, Nostradamus, Blanche de Castille and the Little SaintLouis (S/M 1400), the magician Nostradamus, holding two glass vessels, approaches a telescope; the other figures suggest themes of blindness and birth. As with Ernst’s earlier “magician” collages, hermetic imagery clearly played a role in these new collages of the late 1920s. Ernst used nineteenth-century wood engravings as his source illustrations, similar to those he had used a decade earlier to construct The Preparation of Glue from Bones and the collages included in Répétitions and Les Malheurs des immortels. Typically, his Dada collages were embellished with horizon lines or perspectival spatial environments. He made the new collages denser by using fullpage base illustrations covered with only a few strategically placed additions. By choosing wood engravings as his source material, he could cut carefully along the lines and assemble the collages so that all traces of his junctures were camouflaged. Frequently his images provided a comic critique of nineteenth-century academic tradition with an overabundance of female nudes.21 Combining both dramatic and banal illustrations of nineteenthcentury serial novels with scientific, mechanical, cosmological, botanical, and zoological details, these new collages were electrified with narrative poten-


collage as alchemy tial. Over the next few years, Ernst created three large collage novels, La Femme 100 têtes (1929), Rêve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel (1930), and Une Semaine de bonté (1934), along with several shorter collage series and individual collages produced to accompany the literary works of his surrealist friends. Ernst’s collage novels have been compared to contemporary surrealist narratives, including Aragon’s Paysan de Paris (1926), Breton’s Nadja, and de Chirico’s Hebdomeros.22 These books contain loosely drawn tales in which characters wander through the streets of Paris or abruptly changing and imaginary locations, amid romantic encounters and mysterious events. Ernst’s first two novels contain captions that both illuminate and contradict the visual information in the accompanying collages. The third collage novel, Une Semaine de bonté, is not captioned, but contains short quotations on the title page to each volume. Ernst was inspired to construct his first collage novel by leafing through nineteenth-century wood engravings, illustrations from French serial novels, the romans-feuilletons.23 In his introduction to La Femme 100 têtes, André Breton recognized the links between Ernst’s first collage novel and this nineteenthcentury popular literary tradition: “The splendid illustrations of popular works and children’s books like Rocambole or Costal the Indian, intended for persons who can scarcely read, are among the few things capable of moving to tears those who can say that they have read everything.” 24 Just as Ernst was captivated by the disjunctive succession of images in these nineteenth-century serial novels, Breton preferred to look at the illustrations without reading the accompanying text: . . . these illustrations which, unlike the deadly texts they refer to, represent for us a summary of such disorderly conjectures that they in themselves are precious, like the incredibly minute reconstruction of the scene of a crime that we observe in a dream, without being in the least concerned with the name and the intentions of the assassin.25 Echoing the thematic and narrative qualities of both contemporary surrealist novels and the traditional roman-feuilleton, Ernst’s collage novels continued to defy simple explanations of their structure. Some critics have taken the stance that analyzing these novels defeats the essential purpose of provoking an emotional catharsis for the viewer.26 Others argue that despite the


max er nst and alchemy insistent disunity of the many collages, there are narrative structures embedded within the seemingly chaotic imagery.27 Ernst’s first collage novel, La Femme 100 têtes, has received the most attention. Stokes constructed a cohesive story line by comparing the organization of its component collages to several print cycles, such as William Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress (1745), Francisco Goya’s Caprichos (1799), and Max Klinger’s The Glove (1881).28 The book is divided into nine chapters, like the nine months of pregnancy. Throughout its pages, two recurring characters guide a central hero through a lifelong journey. The first of these characters is “Loplop,” the anthropomorphic bird, which had developed from the wealth of bird imagery Ernst produced throughout the 1920s, and which appears as a rooster- or eagle-headed male figure in Ernst’s contemporary paintings. The hero’s other guardian is “La Femme 100 têtes,” his hundred-headless female counterpart.29 The first chapter begins with the hero’s “Immaculate Conception,” which after three failed attempts is finally successful. The following chapters record the hero’s birth, scenes from early childhood, fantasies of adult life, interactions with gods and goddesses, and eventual success. Death comes after cataclysmic events, while the final chapter repeats themes found in earlier chapters. The cyclic nature of human life is reinforced when the story ends with same image with which it began. Evan Mauer interpreted Ernst’s intentions as wanting to endow his forms and characters with “multiple, shifting identities.” 30 He pointed out several instances where Ernst linked different collages by using male and female figures with similar poses to create a visual continuity despite the abrupt changes of background scenery. The viewer’s subliminal memory creates subtle narrative connections, while at the same time, the main character seems to be constantly changing sexual characteristics. Gerd Bauer agreed with some of these earlier observations, but cautioned against the danger of overinterpreting these collages.31 While recurring motifs and figures link various parts of the novel together like “a stone skipping over the water,” significant discontinuities remain. Bauer found the role of the female protagonist to be a powerful one. As she guards her secret, she is capable of regenerating the world from chaos and wreckage. He made many thematic observations but refrained from imposing too rigid an interpretation, which would deny the suggestive potential and mysterious power surrounding the novel’s organization and its individual collages.


collage as alchemy In Ernst’s second collage novel, Rêve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel, the protagonist is a young girl, Marceline-Marie, whose double name indicates her dual personality. Partly a parody of the autobiography of St. Theresa of Lisieux, this novel is rich with indictments against the Catholic Church as a repressor of individual freedom and liberated sexuality.32 Freudian symbols intermingle with the darkest anticlerical humor as this young girl struggles with her dual search for perverse spiritual ecstasy and sexual fulfillment. Within the multiple readings offered for these first two novels, some alchemical symbols have been discerned.33 The cover illustration for La Femme 100 têtes (S/M 1417) contains a headless female figure whose body is superimposed upon a crucible seen through the cutaway opening of a brick furnace. This comparison of a female body to the alchemical vessel recalls one of Ernst’s earlier drawings, The Cold Throats (Fig. 4.11). In both works, the “woman without a head” signifies the alchemical vessel and the receptive feminine role within the alchemical process.34 The brick furnace surrounding her recalls the athanor furnace that contains the alembic vessel as well as several of the furnaces and enclosures appearing in Ernst’s paintings of the early 1920s. In alchemy, the conception of a child, the Philosopher’s Stone, was the goal of the laboratory operations. Several collages in this novel take place in laboratories, while others, with their comic allusions to the sexual act, incorporate glass vessels, wine bottles, and glass laboratory equipment— for example, The Failed Immaculate Conception, the Same, for the Second . . . ; and The Landscape Changes 3 Times (I) (S/M 1429, S/M 1420, S/M 1422). In the third attempt, . . . and the Third Time Failed (S/M 1421), electrical current is applied to a large box containing female legs, in what seems to be a sexual laboratory experiment. One of these collages alludes to a central theme of the novel, the fluctuating genders of the principal characters between Loplop, the male bird, and La Femme, the hundred-headless woman. The caption to the collage The Demi-fecund Ram Dilates Its Abdomen at Will and Becomes a Ewe (S/M 1425) indicates this animal’s magical ability to change from male to female. This transmutation is enacted in other ways throughout the novel, particularly in the sequential substitutions of male and female figures in similar poses discussed by Mauer. If the central character is indeed an alchemical child, then Loplop and La Femme become the archetypal parents whose destructions and purifications are accomplished within a cyclic process.


max er nst and alchemy Throughout the novel, the cataclysmic events signal the purifying chaos of the alchemical operations. The four elements— earth, water, fire, and air— can be identified in various catastrophes that beset the hero. Through earthquakes, tidal waves, fires, and stormy winds, the hero is challenged to grow and mature. Several collages from the fourth and fifth chapters contain balls, spherical objects, or discs that could allude to the alembic.35 In one collage, titled Her Smile of Fire Will Fall on the Mountainsides in the Form of Black Frost and White Rust (S/M 1491), a partially nude woman is strapped to a floating disc. The colors mentioned in the caption, black, white, and red (for fire), suggest the three major phases of alchemical transmutation connected to those colors (destruction, purification, and conjunction), while the disc can be read as an alembic vessel in which the feminine element is purified. Elsewhere, allusions to a conflict between black and white are indicated by images within the collages, such as the battle between the black and white boys in the second chapter (S/M 1442, S/M 1443, S/M 1444). Several collages include traditional alchemical symbols. In the collage titled Gray, Black, or Volcanic Blacksmiths Will Whirl in the Air over the Forges and . . . (Fig. 5.1), two blacksmiths forge a bird, symbol of air and the volatile properties of matter. Beneath is a serpent, a symbol of earth, Primal Matter, and its fixity. This collage is followed by another, . . . Will Forge Crowns So Large That They Will Rise Higher, in which two blacksmiths are poised to strike a woman seated on a lion.36 The lion is a traditional male symbol for the earth and Primal Matter, while a woman represents the feminine properties of Philosophic Mercury, the volatile substance that must be destroyed in the early operations. The phrase “forge crowns” in the caption suggests that these blacksmiths are alchemists whose operations on the male and female properties will lead to their purification as the alchemical King and Queen. Ernst generally balanced male and female figures in these collages, where female nudes were often the only elements added to the base illustration.37 Elsewhere, Ernst constructed androgynous figures. In Here All Together Are My Seven Sisters, Often Living on Liquid Dreams and Perfectly Resembling Sleeping Leaves (Fig. 5.2), seven women sleep together in a bed, while a transparent laboratory tube, with a shape suggesting sexual penetration, floats above them in space. Related to his other astronomical images, these seven sisters refer to the constellation of the Pleiades.38 The number seven also recalls the seven ancient planets’ oversight of the alchemical process, an astrological connec-


Fig. 5.1. Max Ernst, Gray, Black, or Volcanic Blacksmiths Will Whirl in the Air over the Forges and . . . , collage from La Femme 100 têtes, 1929 (S/M 1501). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Fig. 5.2. Max Ernst, Here All Together Are My Seven Sisters, Often Living on Liquid Dreams and Perfectly Resembling Sleeping Leaves, collage from La Femme 100 têtes, 1929 (S/M 1473). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

collage as alchemy tion reinforced by the inclusion of a small model solar system at the lower left. Standing beside the bed is a strange composite figure joining human, animal, and mechanical features. This androgynous apparition is created by joining a pair of men’s trousers and the right arm of a woman onto a mechanical and organic hybrid. Within its torso is another Androgyne made of two playing cards, the Queen of Clubs and the Knave of Diamonds. The frequent fusion of male and female figures within these collages and their trials of death, destruction, inundation, and fire reveal that Loplop and his inseparable female companion, La Femme, are Ernst’s version of the alchemical couple in search of their conjunction. In the second novel, Rêve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel, similar alchemical allusions can be found. As with La Femme, violent death, inundations, and sexuality pervade this novel. A calculated equilibrium between male and female figures was maintained in many collages. The dual personality and doubled appearance of Marceline-Marie were balanced by the frequent inclusion of two male figures, equalized compositionally if not actually joined together—for example, Jesus Is Here. It’s He Who Crucifies Me. Where Are You? Papa! Papa! . . . (S/M 1593) and Let’s Go. Let’s Dance the Tenebreuse . . . (S/M 1597). As in many of the collages from La Femme sans têtes, sexual images are combined with transparent glass vessels. In the first collage, The Father: Your Kiss Seems Adult, My Child. Coming from God, It Will Go Far. Go, My Daughter, Go Ahead and . . . (S/M 1589), a couple embrace and kiss behind a water glass held in the air. Traditional alchemical symbols are also added, like the salamander, a symbol of fire, locked in mortal combat with a serpent, a symbol of Primal Matter, in the collage Tell Me Who Am I: Me or My Sister . . . (Fig. 5.3). Above, a young girl looks at two severed heads, male and female, fused together in the upper left corner of the collage. Below these alchemical parents and next to the reptilian Ouroborus, a child’s head has been superimposed on a plant. The story is propelled by the young girl’s wish for marriage, and in several collages, Ernst included a veiled woman in a white dress. These brides suggest the impending chemical wedding of the main characters. MarcelineMarie: “My Place Is at the Feet of a Merciful Husband.” The Hair: “To Dream, to Dress, to Babble on Sick Friday”; . . . In the Incubation Rooms, and a Basket Where, Each Time We Did Something Virtuous, We Dropped into It . . . ; and . . . A Grain of Wheat for the Making of the Host for Our Second Communion (S/M 1627, S/M 1634, S/M 1635). Her


Fig. 5.3. Max Ernst, Tell Me Who Am I: Me or My Sister . . . , collage for Rêve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel, 1930 (S/M 1594). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

collage as alchemy “celestial bridegroom” leaves Marceline-Marie at the end of the novel, suggesting that the process must begin again, after a failed attempt to fuse the King and Queen. The alchemical allusions in Ernst’s first two novels coexist with other narrative aspects. To suggest that their plots are exclusively alchemical would be misleading. Compared to alchemical narratives such as the one related by Silberer, both novels bear some similarities to this tradition. Like the initiate, their characters set out on a journey and begin to observe symbolic operations of killing, separating, washing, purifying, and rejoining the male and female archetypes. These operations are given rich associations in alchemical texts, often described as battles to the death, tempests, and passionate sexual encounters. Likewise in Ernst’s novels, transformations of the male and female characters come about through repeated trials and near disaster.39 In 1931, Ernst created a short suite of thirty-nine collages, of which eight were included in a section titled “A l’intérieur de la vue” for Valentine Hugo.40 Hugo included a note in the first edition that read, “This book was made for me in 1932. The seventh and eighth parts are variations in homage to the only surrealist object that I made and which had appeared to André Breton, ‘a red hand and a white hand on a carpet of fire.’” Hugo’s object, inspired by Breton’s dream, was clearly alchemical in inspiration; it duplicated the “chemical wedding” of the masculine red sulphur and the feminine white mercury in the fire of the alchemical furnace.41 One of the collages described by Hugo, The Interior of Sight 8 (Fig. 5.4), incorporated an illustration from Amédée Guillemin’s Le Soleil (Fig. 5.5),42 which demonstrated the comparative dimensions of the sun and the planets, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and the earth. Ernst superimposed onto the sun of the base illustration an illustration, turned slightly on its side, taken from an article on lunar craters in the French magazine La Nature (Fig. 5.6).43 The conjunction of the sun and the moon, so central to alchemical iconography, is visually represented here by an eclipse created through a clever manipulation of appropriate source material. Onto this eclipse he added a third illustration in which two people are reflected and fused in a luminous natural apparition (Fig. 5.7). This natural phenomenon was created by mist rising in a valley interacting with sunlight to project the shadow of two people standing next to each other on the edge of a cliff. In the collage they fuse to become the alchemical King and Queen, an Androgyne forming within the eclipse. Two severed hands at the bottom of


Fig. 5.4. Max Ernst, The Interior of Sight 8, collage 1931 (S/M 1815). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Fig. 5.5. Anonymous, The Sun and the Planets, Comparative Dimensions, from AmĂŠdĂŠe Guillemin, The Sun (London: Richard Bentley, 1870), frontispiece.

Fig. 5.6. Anonymous, Action of a Current of Air on a Melted Alloy, wood engraving from La Nature, no. 486 (September 23, 1882): 272.

max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 5.7. Anonymous, Luminous Specter, wood engraving from La Nature, no. 485 (September 16, 1882): 249.

the collage, a woman’s white hand and a man’s blue hand, may also represent the archetypal Queen and King, like the two hands mentioned by Hugo in her note. In this short series of collages, Ernst’s alchemical symbols became more obvious. Two years later, he assembled the collages of his third collage novel, Une Semaine de bonté, in which alchemical imagery plays an even greater role.44 As with the first two novels, many interpretations of these collages and their organization have been offered.45 The imagery in Une Semaine de bonté clearly mirrors contemporary surrealist themes of violence, sexuality, and the struggles of the individual against the inhibition of personal freedom. Dieter


collage as alchemy Wyss interpreted its persistent interactions between male and female figures as the visualizations of the artist’s psychological conflicts with his anima, or creative spirit. Bauer felt that the novel, rather than being an abstracted journey through the artist’s subconscious mind, was a compendium of contemporary surrealist philosophy—to defy all institutions that hamper the expressive freedom of the individual: the family, the military, the government, and the church. In addition to these many references, Une Semaine de bonté is the most alchemical of Ernst’s three novels. It is also the most organized and coherent. The book contains seven chapters, each representing a different day of the week.46 Seven is a key alchemical number relating to the seven ancient planets and to their oversight of the seven metals, progressing from lead to gold. These seven chapters were published in five volumes, with the first four days of the week appearing in separate volumes and the final three days published together in the fifth volume. Each chapter begins with a title page, which designates an élément, the ruling element of the chapter, and an exemple, or main character. The ruling element of each chapter relates to a traditional element of the alchemical process. La boue (mud) is the element that rules the first chapter, representing the earth. L’eau (water) and feu (fire) follow as elements of the second and third chapters. The stated element of the fourth chapter is sang (blood), but its true element is the air, as these collages are filled with images of birds. The fifth volume, containing the final three chapters, can be compared to the quintessence, a pure and intangible suspension containing all the other elements. In the first chapter, “Dimanche,” the “Lion of Belfort” is the exemple, the central character. Lions, both male and female, are traditional symbols of Primal Matter, which must be found in order to begin the work. In one of these collages, Ernst created an androgynous figure in which a lion’s head and a suited male arm were fused to a woman’s body (Fig. 5.8). The female lion perched on the mirror serves as an additional female counterpart to the male lion in the central Androgyne. Beneath this Androgyne Ernst added a convoluted serpent, a symbol of Primal Matter from which this androgynous figure arose. The compositional similarity that this collage shares with traditional alchemical emblems (Fig. 3.1) is unusual in Ernst’s work. He usually created more subtle alchemical references through gender inversions made between his source material and the final collage. For example, in another


max er nst and alchemy collage from “Dimanche” (Fig. 5.9), the original illustration had depicted a woman at the upper left who raised her arms in terror as a young boy fell off a bridge.47 Ernst added a male lion’s head over the face of the woman on the bridge and placed a female lion in close proximity, signifying the dual masculine and feminine symbols of Primal Matter. With a more subtle

Fig. 5.8. Max Ernst, collage, “The Lion of Belfort,” Une Semaine de bonté, 1934 (S/M 1926). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


Fig. 5.9. Max Ernst, collage, “The Lion of Belfort,” Une Semaine de bonté, 1934 (S/M 1909). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy transformation, Ernst changed the falling boy to a young girl by adding a long, flowing hairdo. This androgynous hero’s descent to the underworld parallels the journeys of many young initiates in search of Primal Matter. Throughout the collages of this chapter, the male lion and his female companion meet, engage in mortal combat, and are finally killed. This chapter can be equated with the initial alchemical operations in which the masculine and feminine properties of Primal Matter are discovered, destroyed, and buried, in order to begin the process of putrefaction. In the second chapter, “Lundi,” ruled by the element l’eau, women and water are the central characters. In these collages male and female figures are often separated or found in different states of consciousness, while waves, storms at sea, waterfalls, and other inundations wash them clean of all impurities. After the primal material has been destroyed, it must undergo a period of rest and a series of washings to remove all impurities dredged out in the preceding violence. These collages parallel this second stage of purification or ablution. The exemple of the third chapter, “Mardi,” is a place, “La Cour du dragon,” an ancient enclosed district of Paris. Four of these collages are set in this district, while the rest are set in nineteenth-century parlors. Both locations recall the hermetic enclosure of the alchemical vessel. In these collages, Ernst adds dragons and serpents to accompany human figures, which are often winged. Dragons and serpents both represent Primal Matter, while dragons can also symbolize the element of fire and the heating of the alchemical vessel. The élément that rules this chapter is feu, and fire is signified in the pictures on the background walls containing smoking revolvers and lighted candles. In this volatile stage, the male and female protagonists argue and plead with each other, and are finally reunited with embraces and kisses. The chapter corresponds to the red phase of conjunction, the “Chemical Wedding,” in which the primal couple is fused by the heating of the alchemical vessel. These first three chapters thus represent the three traditional stages of the alchemical process, the black (death and putrefaction), the white (purification and ablution), and the red (conjunction). The fourth chapter, “Mercredi,” begins new transformations. Its collages are filled predominantly with bird-headed human figures. Birds traditionally represent the element air, as well as the gases that rise and fall to indicate the processes of distillation and condensation. In one collage (S/M 2011), the Androgyne is created by fusing the upper torso of a woman to a man’s body.


collage as alchemy The candle on the floor refers to the heating of the vessel, causing the birds, or gases, to rise. Several of these collages include insects in various stages of development from the larval to the adult, mirroring the metamorphosis of the couple. The final volume of Une Semaine de bonté contains the final three chapters, “Jeudi,” “Vendredi,” and “Samedi.” In “Jeudi,” the main character is a rooster. The chicken is another symbol for the alchemist, whose careful control of the heat of the vessel is compared to a hen incubating her eggs. One of these collages is clearly a laboratory scene (Fig. 5.10). A large rooster with a scalpel in its hand approaches a woman on a table, while above her head a “pelican” vessel is being heated (compare Fig. 4.22). The cock is related to Mercury, the god and the planet, as seen in one of the “Children of Mercury” prints (Fig. 4.3). In the second section of this chapter, the exemple is “Easter Island.” Male characters, fused with the stone heads of Easter Island idols, become symbols of the Philosopher’s Stone. Once the conjunction of the primal couple has occurred, the Philosopher’s Stone will appear at the conclusion of the red phase of the work. “Vendredi” is composed of three short sections, titled “Three Visible Poems.” The third “visible poem” is composed of two collages that signify the final perfection of the masculine and feminine principles. Ernst used two well-known surrealist symbols for male and female sexuality, the severed hand and the dislocated eye, to create his images of balanced oppositions. In these two collages, the male and female characters, who in their various disguises have dominated the plot of this novel, have been purified and reduced to their essences. In a collage (S/M 2078) in the final chapter, “Samedi,” a young man appears who represents the “Young King” born of the death of his father. Hysterical women, gleaned from Charcot’s studies, fill these collages. The highest spiritual goal of alchemy, the mystical experience of Divine Love, is transformed into an unending quest for human love and sexual desire. The structure and imagery of the seven chapters of Une Semaine de bonté closely duplicate the alchemical process. The characters and elements that reign over each chapter and many of the incidental motifs within these collages are drawn from the alchemical tradition. Although a much greater unity can be found in this novel in comparison with the earlier novels, the placement of the collages within each chapter continues to defy a consistently logical sequence. This, too, relates to traditional alchemical manuscripts, wherein


Fig. 5.10. Max Ernst, collage, “The Laugh of the Cock,” Une Semaine de bonté, 1934 (S/M 2039). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

collage as alchemy text and imagery are intentionally scrambled to discourage the unworthy from attempting to unlock the mysteries. The appearance of Ernst’s three collage novels in the late 1920s and early 1930s coincided with the Second Manifesto and the new emphasis on hermeticism within the surrealist movement. The influence of Grillot de Givry’s Musée des sorciers can be found, including an illustration of “Talismans for the Seven Days of the Week,” which shows the seven planets represented by the appropriate gods and goddesses.48 The sun, “Soleil,” who represents Sunday or Dimanche, is accompanied by a lion, the main character of “Dimanche,” the first chapter of Une Semaine de bonté. The moon, or “Lune,” is a woman with her lunar symbol, similar to the woman who sleeps and dominates the second chapter. Mercury, who relates to the fourth day of the week, “Mercredi” or Wednesday, is a winged figure, paralleling the many birds of the fourth chapter. Concurrently with the collage novels, Ernst created other collages and mixed-media works, most notably his images of Loplop, a half-bird, halfhuman creature who emerged in the paintings and collages of the late 1920s.49 Serving as the artist’s alter ego, Loplop often stood behind an easel, presenting the artist’s work to the viewer; the effect is somewhat similar to Picasso’s fusions of the artist and the easel in his studio paintings of the mid- to late 1920s. Many collage elements, frottages, and other graphic works are pasted to the surface of the Loplop paintings. Often these images contain a pair of hands, as in the earlier collage, Magician, as if to perform a feat of magic. These images of Loplop underscore the important role of his female companion, La Femme 100 têtes. As in the collage novels, where Ernst created androgynous figures or balanced female and male figures within his compositions, the union between Loplop and La Femme is strongly emphasized in the Loplop series. In the View article in 1941, Ernst credited the development of these archetypal figures to the traumatic incidents of his childhood—the death of his sister Maria, and the overlapping death of his pet bird Horneblom with the birth of his sister Loni. A dangerous confusion between birds and humans became encrusted in his mind and asserted itself in his drawings and paintings. The obsession haunted him until he erected the Birds Memorial Monument in 1927, and even later Max identified himself voluntarily


max er nst and alchemy with Loplop, the Superior of the Birds. This phantom remained inseparable from another one called Perturbation ma soeur, la femme 100 têtes.50 The inseparability of the masculine and feminine characters emphasized in this passage is amply revealed in Ernst’s collages and paintings of the 1930s. Humanoid plant creatures, related to the bird Loplop, also began to populate Ernst’s works at this time, such as a Human Figure (Fig. 5.11). This animated figure was constructed from a broad-leafed plant with large berries that form egg-shaped protuberances near its shoulders and testicles. This figure can be compared to an illustration from Grillot de Givry of the mysterious male and female mandrakes. The mandrake is a broad-leafed plant whose roots resemble human figures, magically developing into both male and female types (Fig. 5.12). Mandrakes were once widely distributed in Germany, where they were used for medicinal and magical purposes.51 This comparison reveals Ernst’s subtle transformations of traditional hermetic imagery, which by the late 1920s was increasingly available. Another aspect of Ernst’s development during this decade was his return to sculpture.52 Ernst’s first sculptures appeared during the Dada period in Cologne as comic anthropomorphic and relief assemblages. Following his move to Paris, however, he abandoned sculpture for many years. He renewed his interest in sculpture during the summer of 1934 while vacationing with Alberto Giacometti in Maloja, Switzerland.53 In the bed of a nearby stream, Ernst discovered an infinite variety of egg-shaped rocks worn smooth by the rushing water. With a minimal amount of relief carving, he used the inherent grain patterns of these rocks to create birdlike and abstracted shapes on their surfaces, as seen in Max Bill’s photograph of Mysterious Egg (Fig. 5.13). Ernst’s interest in stones can be traced to the late 1920s, when Roland Penrose, returning from a wedding trip to Egypt with his wife, Valentine Boué, brought back a small stone found in the Sahara that Ernst later exhibited at the Galerie Villon in 1929 as a joint readymade under the title “Found Object.” 54 While in Egypt, Boué became enthralled with a Spanish mystic, Galarza, with whom she pursued her own interest in mysticism and alchemy.55 In addition to the interest in alchemy among the Parisian surrealists, Penrose’s gift of a “Philosopher’s Stone” came at a crucial period, as Ernst returned to collage and began to create his first collage novel. From an alchemical point of view, Ernst’s rock sculptures from his summer in Switzerland served as Primal Matter, found material from the earth. Their


Fig. 5.11. Max Ernst, Human Figure, 1931, oil and plaster on wood, 184 ⫻ 100 cm (S/M 1712). Moderna Museet, Stockholm. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 5.12. Anonymous, male and female mandrakes, from E. A. Grillot de Givry, Le Musée des sorciers, mages et alchimistes (Paris: Librairie de France, 1929), 384.

clearly defined egg shapes suggest the “Philosophic Egg” of the alchemical vessel. The transparency of the vessel enabled the alchemist to watch operations occurring within. The opacity of the stone did not permit the eye to penetrate, so birds were carved on the surface to suggest an alchemical transformation of Primal Matter. In most of Ernst’s sculptures, as with the collages, sexuality was a central theme, revealed as a dialogue between male and female imagery. In some, like Lunar Asparagus (S/M 2661), comic genitalia became the faces for long spindly creatures attached to a single base, fused like the alchemical Androgyne. These male and female figures were based on a New Guinean sculpture that also contained two figures attached to a single base, found by Jacques Viot, Ernst’s first dealer in Paris.56 During the winter of 1934 –1935, Ernst made a series of nine sculptures, including Lunar Asparagus and Oedipus (S/M 2154), in which he fused hybrid masculine and feminine attributes into single androgynous forms.


Fig. 5.13. Max Ernst, Mysterious Egg, summer 1934, carved granite, 71 ⫻ 43 ⫻ 30 cm (S/M 2105). Photo by Max Bill, Zurich. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy In the late 1930s, Ernst moved to Saint-Martin d’Ardèche with Leonora Carrington and decorated their small farmhouse with plaster sculptures of hybrid animals. Metken recognized several connections between collages from Une Semaine de bonté and these metamorphosed creatures.57 In later sculptural works, Ernst created chess pieces, dominated by a large king and a smaller queen. Like Duchamp, Ernst was an avid chess player, but his choice of the royal pair, such as The King Playing with the Queen, 1944 (S/M 2465), may have had as much to do with the archetypal King and Queen of alchemy as with his favorite game. Many of these early forms culminated in Ernst’s large sculptural grouping Capricorn (S/M 2474), created during his early years in Sedona, Arizona, with Dorothea Tanning.58 He would return to the theme of sexual duality in his late sculptures. In Oiseau Janus (1960), Ernst combined two heads on a single figure with other details, including a shell, a turtle, and a bird, animals representing the elements of water, earth, and air.59 Alchemical interpretations of Ernst’s sculptures offer many possibilities still to be explored. Certainly the multiple directions of his work in the 1930s, including the three collage novels, the Loplop series, the sculptures, and continuing paintings and graphic works, reveal a cohesive and integrated body of work, filled with alchemical allusions. Whatever the medium, the collage method remained central to his working process. The alchemical imagery found in Ernst’s works of the 1930s mirrored the developing surrealist interest in hermeticism revealed in contemporary periodicals. One of the objects selected for discussion in the surrealists’ “recherches expérimentales” was a medium’s crystal ball.60 Questions posed about this object include several with alchemical implications: “Is it capable of metamorphosis? . . . What happens if you plunge it into water? milk? vinegar? urine? alcohol? mercury? . . . To what element does it correspond? To what sign of the zodiac does it correspond?” Although the responses given by the members of the group varied widely, many had alchemical implications. For example, in answer to the crystal ball’s related element, the participants all chose the traditional alchemical elements of fire, water, air, and earth, rather than scientific elements. Continuing throughout the 1930s, Minotaure published numerous articles that touched on hermetic subjects. In an article illustrated with several bizarre antique automatic machines, Benjamin Péret constructed an imaginary dialogue in which the famous alchemist Albert the Great and the artist Leonardo da Vinci were two of the participants.61 The following year,


collage as alchemy Georges Hugnet contributed a poetic tribute to palmistry in which he referred to the “mineral hands which ripen under the eyes of the alchemists . . .” 62 Dr. Charlotte Wolff provided an introduction to palmistry in another article in Minotaure, using her observations to construct psychological assessments incorporating the terminology of William James and C. G. Jung.63 The article was illustrated with the palm prints of André Breton, Paul Eluard, and Marcel Duchamp, among others. Elsewhere, Dr. Wolff published her analysis of the palm prints of many artists, writers, and performing artists, including Max Ernst, Adrienne Monnier, René Crevel, Man Ray, and Antonin Artaud.64 In his discussion of fetal development in an essay in Minotaure, Dr. Pierre Mabille compared the embryo to an alembic and then compared embryonic development to the unconscious. This essay was illustrated with an astrological diagram of the human body and its corresponding zodiac signs taken from the Très Riches Heures, du Duc de Berry.65 A dedicated hermeticist, Mabille also published an introductory article on hermetic symbolism, illustrated with several alchemical emblems, although their symbolic meaning was not explained.66 Elsewhere Mabille cast a horoscope for Lautréamont, discussing its significant conjunction of Neptune and Saturn. This essay was accompanied by Pierre Menard’s analysis of Lautréamont’s handwriting.67 Albert Béguin’s discussion of the Androgyne was perhaps the most informative of these many articles on hermetic subjects published in surrealist journals during the 1930s.68 He connected the Androgyne to creation myths and to a “nostalgia of a return to unity,” shared by Platonic and alchemical philosophy and by the “modern myth of the unconscious.” The duality of the sexes, the celebration of love, and the union of two sexes in a single person were explored in relation to the writings of Ritter, Böhme, Balzac, and Baudelaire. Perhaps because of his long commitment to androgynous imagery, Ernst designed the cover for this issue (S/M 2285). Androgynous imagery has been identified in the works of many contemporary artists,69 but none can claim a more extensive dedication to it than Max Ernst. In 1937, a special issue of Cahiers d’Art was devoted to Ernst, and it included the first extensive reproduction of his works combined with an essay drawn from his earlier statements and enlarged with significant additions. Ernst helped to choose the images that illustrate this issue, including several of his most significant alchemical paintings: Winter Landscape (Fig. 3.2), Dada Gauguin (Fig. 3.4), Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Fig. 4.4), Memory of God


max er nst and alchemy (Fig. 4.7), and Inside the Sight (Fig. 4.21). The issue also included essays and poetry by Breton, Eluard, Péret, Joë Bousquet, G. Ribemont-Dessaignes, Jean de Bosschère, and Jacques Viot. Reproduced on the cover was a sphinx, a hybrid creature centrally connected to the Oedipus legend (S/M 1833). Ernst adapted its traditional attributes to create an androgynous figure combining the nude body of a man, the head and bust of a woman, the wings of a bird, and the head of a lion. As in the first chapter of Une Semaine de bonté, a male lion and a winged woman were joined together, symbols of the fixity and volatility of matter. In the accompanying essay “Au delà de la peinture,” Ernst defined collage as “something like the alchemy of the visual image. the miracle of the total transfiguration of beings and objects with or without modification of their physical or anatomical aspect.” 70 He also described collage as an alchemical composition of two or several heterogenous elements resulting in their unexpected union, due to a will tending— by love of clairvoyance—toward the systematic confusion and derangement of all the senses (Rimbaud), either by chance, or a will favoring chance.71 He defined the mechanism of collage as the exploitation of the fortuitous encounter of two distant realities on a plane that does not suit them, paraphrasing the famous phrase of Lautréamont: “Beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissection table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.” The sewing machine and the umbrella, feeling displaced and in search of their identity, will make love.72 This description recalls the alchemical process, in which the masculine and feminine properties are refined from their base nature and eventually make love within the alchemical vessel. The sexual symbolism of the umbrella and the sewing machine as male and female had long been recognized by the surrealists.73 The components of the collage are like the opposing male and female principles of the alchemical process. The unaccustomed plane is the bed, or alchemical vessel, or base illustration, upon which this union takes place. Because the collage method was Ernst’s basic working method throughout his career, his equation of collage to alchemy in this essay has far-reaching implications. Many parallels can be drawn between the alchemical work and the collage process. The alchemist must find Primal Matter to begin the work,


collage as alchemy as Ernst found preexisting images to make his collages. Then the Primal Matter was destroyed, as wood engravings or other found images were cut from their original context. The separated parts were then recombined, fused by fire in the alchemical vessel and by paste in the collage. The goal for the alchemist was the production of gold; for Ernst it was a new image of transmutation and discovery. Yet traditionally, the production of gold was less important than the self-knowledge that resulted from engaging in the work. Likewise, the making of a work of art became the vehicle for an investigation and knowledge of his personal identity. For Ernst, alchemy provided a metaphor, and more than a purely poetic one, for the creative process and for the self-revelation that came from making art. Not only did he consistently incorporate alchemical symbolism and create androgynous figures in his collages, paintings, and sculptures, but he also typically conflated alchemical imagery with autobiographical references. His combinations of male and female figures and sexual symbols created hybrids of unified androgynous imagery. In his works of the early 1920s, alchemical symbols were conflated with images of his parents and their sexual activity that led to his conception and birth. As his works developed into the 1930s, he used alchemical imagery as a very personal symbol of the divided aspects of his personality. Loplop and his inseparable companion La Femme became its masculine and feminine poles. Within his imagery, these male and female characters fused like an alchemical persona that resonated with the artist’s psyche. As with the alchemical Androgyne, masculine and feminine elements exist as one in his imagery, fused through the transformational alchemical mechanism of collage.


. . . all these hermaphroditic deistic formations express the idea that only a union of the masculine and feminine elements can result in a worthy representation of divine perfection.—Sigmund Freud 1 The genius of the great surrealists will owe its renaissance to the young women who dared to and were capable of loving them.—Joë Bousquet 2


The Alchemical Androgyne: Ernst and the Women in His Life

Within the remarkable continuity of Ernst’s visual motifs— birds, machines, vegetation, vertical forests, horizontal landscapes, and seascapes—the feminine image was persistently embedded. Derived from both Freudian and alchemical symbolism, Ernst’s images of women were central to his recurring adaptations of sexual and androgynous imagery. These explorations had a deeply personal resonance, initiating in childhood with the death and birth, respectively, of his sisters Maria and Loni. At puberty, he envisioned a stream of men and women separating to the left and right as they approached his bed.3 In his fantasy, he leaned to the right to observe the women, although only a few were young enough to excite his adolescent desires. The men to the left were more menacing, including one old man who had his father’s features. Much later, in January 1926, he had another vision of a tall, thin woman dressed in a transparent red robe who appeared at the foot of his bed.4 The mature female persona in his art, La Femme sans têtes, was a true composite, representing the chaotic, seductive, and terrifying power of the feminine archetype and the ideal erotic woman of his dreams. This mythic image often merged with the obvious and obscured portraits of the women he loved, each one associated with certain motifs that clustered in the art he made during the years they were together. Women were active within the surrealist movement from its earliest days, although their contributions, particularly literary ones, have often been overlooked.5 Several women, such as Simone Kahn Breton, Renée Gauthier, and


the alchemical androgyne a woman named Suzanne, took part in the “sommeils” and other surrealist activities, such as the collaborative creation of “exquisite corpses.” The egalitarian nature of surrealism supported the inclusion of women, and some three hundred women’s names appeared in surrealist journals, exhibition catalogs, and other publications.6 Against a misogynous climate in the 1920s and 1930s that was fostered by the right-wing press, the surrealists took the side of the women in the controversial and highly publicized murder cases against the Papin sisters and the sexually abused Violette Nozières.7 Understandably, many feminist writers have expressed concerns over the violence found in some surrealist images of women, but these analyses do not always evaluate the full range and the context of surrealist imagery. In truth, there was a great diversity of participation among female writers and artists within and on the periphery of surrealism, and a more balanced examination of the interchanges between the men and women of the group is still in its initial stages in the scholarship.8 The real-life experiences of the female surrealists did not always live up to professed surrealist ideals, but most could speak favorably about the support they had received from their male colleagues.9 Ernst earned his reputation as one of the more amorous surrealists, having liaisons and relationships with many of the movement’s most creative women. Beginning with his first marriage to Luise Straus, the women in his life were remarkably intelligent and productive artists, writers, and art patrons. Many of Ernst’s companions have resisted talking about their personal and artistic relationships with him because of their annoyance that, all too often in the past, their work has not been considered on its own merits. Still, parallels exist between Ernst’s images and those of his female companions, as their relationships and common interests mutually enriched the creativity of both partners. Several of the younger women in the surrealist milieu, including Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington, consistently explored hermetic and alchemical imagery. The alchemical Androgyne (Fig. 6.1), with its sexual fusion of a King and a Queen, the male and female archetypes, provides a metaphor for exploring the relationships between Ernst and the women in his life, between Ernst’s images of these women and their images of him. This representation of a balance between the two sexes is the goal of the alchemical work, a task as elusive in the laboratory as in real life.10 Ernst’s first images of women appeared in the stylistically diverse works of his college years. Respectable bourgeois women populated the streets of his naturalistic and more cubist compositions, while their tattered sisters


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 6.1. Anonymous, The Hermetic Androgyne, frontispiece from E. A. Grillot de Givry, Le Musée des sorciers, mages, et alchimistes (Paris: Librairie de France, 1929).

assumed more anguished poses in his expressionist paintings. A few prewar studies depicted female nudes in a forest, such as The Three Graces, ca. 1912 – 1913 (S/M 63), and Expectation, 1913 (S/M 241), in which a young boy turns to look at two seated nudes in the background. Expeditions into the forest for nude posing during his late adolescence provided Ernst with opportunities to practice his skills of seduction. It was in the forest near Brühl that Ernst had lost his virginity with a young girl named Alma. Years later, he could recall the exact day—at the age of fifteen years, one month, and three days.11 These sketches, painted in the early 1910s, suggest that the forest and its nymphs continued to lure and entice him. During his college years, Ernst developed a healthy and active libido. Franz Balke, whose personal friendship with Ernst spanned the period from Easter 1912 to August 1914, remembered his strikingly handsome appearance,


the alchemical androgyne with classical facial features and lively blue eyes that rendered him almost effortlessly seductive to women.12 His many erotic escapades were conducted partly in revolt from his strict Catholic upbringing. Ernst was surrounded by women, especially young ones, whose sexual innocence he viewed as a challenge. To Balke’s astonishment, Ernst revealed that one young woman had reserved a double room in a Cologne hotel for the evening following her eighteenth birthday. Although these young women were not active participants in the Young Rhinelanders movement, Ernst later acknowledged their occasional presence while reminiscing about his carefree days before the war: The feminine element was not at all excluded from the garden of our delights. If we had among us neither female painters nor poets, it was only that none presented themselves and that no one set out to pursue them. On the contrary, all persons worthy of the name of Perturbation my sister, the hundred-headless woman, were received with cries and clamors. These persons were rare, their apparitions of short duration. The most constant were those whom we called willingly, the sources of all goodness, and those who presented themselves to our eyes under the aspect of those adorable young Rhenish girls who had inspired some beautiful poems of Heinrich Heine and Guillaume Apollinaire, and some beautiful paintings of Stephan Lochner and the Master of the Half-Figures.13 It was during this period that he met Luise Straus, who had entered the University of Bonn at Easter 1912 to work on a degree in art history.14 Ernst’s laughing blue eyes, extravagant cravats, and radiating cheerfulness first attracted her attention, but she remained immune to his charms for over a year before pursuing the relationship. The turning point came in a life drawing class when Lou asked Max’s help with a nude drawing. He agreed to help in exchange for her company on a walk. Even then, Lou put him off for several days, until one moist and foggy night they walked along the Rhine and she had a change of heart. Soon they were constant companions, although still another three-quarters of a year would pass before they became intimate. Max promised not to pressure her and waited until she made the decision to escalate their relationship, after she had received encouragement from Hans Arp, who had also briefly fallen in love with her. At the end of


max er nst and alchemy the summer of 1914, Max left for the war, and their relationship was subsequently nurtured by almost daily letters and occasional furlough visits to Cologne. In 1916, they had a brief pregnancy scare, much to the consternation of Lou’s Orthodox Jewish parents. Max had been willing to marry her then, but they waited until shortly before the end of the war and were married in a civil ceremony in October 1918. Ernst’s surviving works from the war years show little evidence of this romance. It was only after the Armistice, when Max and Lou’s apartment on the Kaiser-Wilhelm Ring became the focal point for the Cologne Dada movement, that his imagery became sexually charged. During his absence, Lou had established herself as a writer. Her dissertation on medieval Rhenish goldsmiths 15 had won her a summa cum laude degree, although she preferred to use her writing skills to analyze modern art. One of her first articles described Albrecht Dürer’s work as a precursor to cubism, an idea she admitted would come as a great surprise to the German Renaissance master. Although she talked about this concept with Max, the article was entirely hers. When a position as art critic for a newspaper in Düsseldorf fell through, she was offered a chance to write theater criticism instead, and later she expanded her efforts to news reporting, architectural reviews, and articles on contemporary art. She was a bright, warm, and talented woman whose courage to love Max in spite of her family’s objections showed her strong independent spirit. She also knew that a relationship with him would require compromise and the courage to live a life of revolt against bourgeois standards. Returning from the war, Max had changed. His effusive animation was often punctuated by periods of withdrawal and introversion.16 Still, the first years of their marriage were happy and carefree, and they enjoyed their romantic poverty, thriving in the way young couples do when finally free of dominating parents. For the first Cologne Dada exhibition in November 1912, Ernst created a small assemblage dedicated to Lou, its title including her pseudonym, Armada v. Duldgedalzen, Rosa Bonheur of the Dadas. The Right Hand of DaDa Central W/3 (S/M 300). He made the object, now known only through a photograph, from a glass bottle into which he inserted a doll’s severed hand with a spool of sewing thread stuck on its thumb.17 The inscription credits her as being the right hand of Dada Central W/3, even though the doll’s left hand was used in the sculpture, and its comic reference to the famous French nineteenth-


the alchemical androgyne century animal painter nevertheless paid tribute to Lou’s role as a woman artist. She certainly contributed to the collage-making and writing projects of Cologne Dada, although their collaborative working methods make specific attributions to her difficult. At the second Dada exhibition in April 1920, she was seven months pregnant with their son, Jimmy, who reportedly was kicking up a storm during the evening’s proceedings.18 Inspired by Jimmy’s birth in June 1920, Max created two collages to celebrate the new mother and son (Figs. 6.2 and 6.3). Lou’s collage was inscribed again with the phrase “armada v. duldgedalzen, the rosa bonheur of the dadas.” Ernst superimposed his own symbolic presence onto Lou’s photograph in the form of a sleek phallic seal.19 Jimmy’s collage was captioned “dadafex minimus, the greatest anti-philosopher of the world.” The baby pops up like a jack-in-the-box from an aquarium of Paleozoic animals cavorting in a primordial soup. In front, the two battling dinosaurs are a comic representation of Lou and Max in the process of Jimmy’s conception, creating a humorous Darwinian connection between the Paleozoic Era and his own progeny. Although dinosaurs do not appear in alchemical emblems, green reptiles such as dragons, snakes, and frogs typically symbolize Primal Matter. In this collage the battling “dragon-dinosaurs” have given rise to a new child. Still, the adapted alchemical symbolism in these two portraits is more subtle than that found in his concurrent self-portrait photocollage, The Punching Ball ou l’immortalité de Buonarotti, where he embraced an androgynous figure formed by fusing a flayed male head and a woman’s body. During this time, Lou was producing her own androgynous images. Her photocollage Augustine Thomas and Otto Flake (S/M 384) 20 contains a woman reclining on a chaise longue. To her left, an androgynous figure, created by adding a man’s head to a woman’s body, looks up at two flayed animal carcasses, possibly added by Ernst. Both photocollages include androgynous figures, with male heads fused to female bodies, and both include images of flaying or dissection, thus forming symbolic representations of Silberer’s discussions of alchemy and psychology (discussed in Chapter 2). Although few works of this period depicted Ernst’s new family, sexuality was a pervading theme, laying the foundations for images that would recur throughout his career.21 Metamorphosed couples, horned and priapic males, headless women, and floating female genitalia powered by futile Dada machines establish the centrality of sexuality in Ernst’s works of the Cologne period. One set of paired images, The Hat Makes the Man, 1920 (S/M 359), and


max er nst and alchemy the overpainting The Sandworm, 1920 (S/M 360), incorporated male and female hats from a catalog found when Ernst was working part-time at his new father-in-law’s clothing factory. In the latter, female hats are linked to form a sluglike insect inching its way across a horizontal landscape. In the former, Ernst creates a phallustrade, a phallus-balustrade, by visually combining a

Fig. 6.2. Max Ernst, Armada v. Duldgedalzen, la Rosa Bonheur des Dadas (Luise Straus-Ernst), 1920, collage with cut photographs, printed reproductions, and pencil, 11.1 ⫻ 8.6 cm (S/M 379). Private collection. Courtesy Menil Collection, Houston. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


the alchemical androgyne

Fig. 6.3. Max Ernst, Dadafex minimus, le plus grand antiphilosophe du monde (Jimmy Ernst), 1920, collage with cut photographs, printed reproductions, and pencil, 11.1 ⫻ 8.6 cm (S/M 378). Private collection. Photo © 1992 by Rameshwar Das, East Hampton, N.Y.; all rights reserved. Courtesy Menil Collection, Houston. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

tower of hats with an erect protuberance. This phallic form appears again on the right edge of The Elephant of the Celebes (S/M 466) behind one of Ernst’s first headless women.22 Like a vaudeville impresario, she gracefully points to the huge elephant in the middle of the canvas, whose horned head signifies its masculinity.


max er nst and alchemy The Eluards purchased this painting, as well as Oedipus Rex (S/M 496), during their first visit to Cologne, where they arrived on November 4, 1921. That same year, Max inscribed several sexually charged collages to Gala, including Puberty Approaches, 1921 (S/M 418), and Perturbation, My Sister, 1921 (S/M 415). In Puberty Approaches, a headless woman clipped from a pornographic postcard floats in the sky. Her left arm has been transformed into a phallic projectile that penetrates a round ball. In Perturbation, My Sister, another headless woman holds an umbrella. This object derived its sexual meaning for Ernst from Lautréamont’s famous metaphor for sexual intercourse, “As beautiful as the chance encounter of an umbrella and a sewing machine on a dissection table,” a passage that Ernst knew from Breton’s readings of Lautréamont in the Tyrol during the previous summer’s vacation. Sexual attributes suited Gala well, although she was by no means a “headless” woman.23 In fact, her intelligence and literary interests had helped to ignite her relationship with Paul Eluard. They met in the autumn of 1912 in a tuberculosis sanatorium at Clavadel, Switzerland. In that restful environment, Gala devoted her time to reading Russian and French authors— Dostoyevsky, Baudelaire, Verlaine, and Gérard de Nerval. She spotted Eluard reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. That night, she threw cards to determine if meeting him would be auspicious. Receiving a positive response, she spent the next day making inquiries about the fragile and sensitive young patient.24 They soon discovered they had many interests in common, and their mutual attraction blossomed into an unofficial engagement. During the war, they corresponded frequently until the fall of 1916, when Gala moved to Paris to live with Eluard’s parents, the Grindels, continuing her French language studies and devouring French poetry. They married on February 12, 1917, in a simple ceremony, attended only by his parents because of the war. Their only child, Cécile, was born in May of the following year. Living in Paris after the war, they were soon drawn into the Dada circle of the literary avant-garde. Gala and Paul began to collect art as well, sharing similar tastes in painting and sculpture. During one of the first Dada soirées, organized in 1920 by Germaine Everling and Francis Picabia, Gala acted in a play written by Breton and Soupault, although, unlike Paul, she did not typically take part in their Dada activities. From these first encounters, there was a strong mutual antagonism between Gala and the members of the group. Soupault accused her of ridiculing his friends Breton


the alchemical androgyne and Aragon.25 In addition, she and Paul remained somewhat socially aloof from the group as the Grindel family money allowed them a lifestyle somewhat above that of their financially struggling friends. They had first encountered Max Ernst through his collages, which they admired at the Galerie Au Sans Pareil exhibition in May 1921. During their travels that summer, they missed meeting the Ernsts in the Tyrol, then accompanied the Bretons to Vienna to visit Sigmund Freud, finally arriving in Cologne on November 4. The affair between Max and Gala probably began during that first visit. Many years later, during the surrealists’ investigations into the nature of sexuality, Breton asked his colleagues to recall their most emotional sexual memory subsequent to losing their virginity. Max answered that it occurred one night in 1921 with a woman that he believed he “loved violently,” after having spent the previous night not sleeping with her and deciding that his abstinence had been a profound error.26 If this confession indeed related to the beginning of his affair with Gala, it captured the passion and intensity of their liaison, although how they were able to consummate their new relationship with both spouses in such close proximity remains a mystery. Several photographs from that visit reveal their closeness. In one (Fig. 6.4), Max, holding Jimmy on his shoulder, leans away from Lou and toward Gala, who wears his Iron Cross. Their affair escalated during the Eluards’ second visit to Cologne in March 1922, and during the joint vacation of the two families in the Tyrol the following summer, it became obvious to everyone that Max would follow Gala to Paris. Even before Gala’s arrival, the happiness in the Ernsts’ marriage had waned. Lou recognized that Max had outgrown the provincial confines of the Cologne art scene, and that family life was beginning to frustrate and entrap him. She was also aware that she had suppressed too much of herself in her complete devotion to him.27 Even Jimmy’s birth, which brought them both great joy, had not produced the necessary closeness that was missing. Lou and Max both understood his need for freedom, and yet the breakup of their marriage was painful. Lou described Gala as “that Russian female . . . that slithering, glittering creature with dark falling hair, vaguely oriental and luminant black eyes and small delicate bones, who had to remind one of a panther.” 28 Max cruelly told Lou that he had never loved her as passionately as he loved Gala. Still, the night before he left for Paris, Max and Lou cried together while watching Jimmy sleep.


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 6.4. Photograph of Gala Eluard, Max Ernst, Jimmy Ernst, Luise Straus Ernst, Paul Eluard, and Theodor Baargeld. Cologne, early November 1921. Museum d’Art de d’Histoire, Mairie de Saint-Denis.

Max’s passionate love for Gala served as a vehicle for his escape to a wider world. Throughout his early Paris years, Gala appeared in portraits and in more disguised imagery. She was the only woman included in his group portrait Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1). Although she rarely participated in the group’s activities, she attended some of the séances. A photograph of her exists that was supposedly taken during a trance.29 From childhood, she frequently used cards to divine the future, and her second husband, Salvador Dalí, later designed a tarot deck for her, incorporating her portrait into the “Empress” card, one of the most powerful cards of the Major Arcana.


the alchemical androgyne Ernst’s portraits of Gala during this period focused on her body and her eyes. His nude portrayals of her in The Beautiful Gardener and the Eaubonne murals hint at their physical intimacy without revealing its passion. Still, Ernst’s familiarity with her body was not a privileged one; her figure had already achieved some notoriety thanks to the efforts of her husband, who carried a nude photograph of her to share with his friends.30 Nude images of Gala in the Eaubonne murals also incorporated the theme of blindness, for in these paintings her eyes were either masked or covered, as if she were closing her eyes to the real world in order to develop the inner sight of the clairvoyant. Conversely, Ernst often captured the penetrating intensity of her eyes, as in his Portrait of Gala of 1924 (Fig. 6.5), an image copied from a Man Ray photograph. Her eyes are prominent, open, and fully frontal in the lower half of the painting, while the plane of her forehead has been peeled and rolled forward to reveal circular microbes floating above in a distant sky. By the removal of her mouth she is rendered silent, although her powerful gaze elevates her as a mystical seer in a world beyond physical reality. In several drawings created shortly before Paul Eluard’s abrupt departure from Paris, Max portrayed Gala over and over again, as if her face, with its varying expressions from bemused detachment to icy withdrawal, had truly possessed him.31 After the trio’s rendezvous in Indochina and Ernst’s subsequent departure from the Eaubonne house, images of Gala continued to appear and to be transformed in his works. Her eye became The Wheel of Light (S/M 818) in Histoire naturelle, his frottage series of 1925. In another frottage and several paintings of this period, women whose heads turn away from the picture plane could be interpreted as images of Gala, whose decision to return to Eluard was viewed by Ernst as a personal rejection. One such painting, whose title, Violent Love (S/M 942),32 is inscribed in large letters at the bottom, portrays a woman seen from behind. A single white rose, realistically painted in contrast to the frottage technique of the figure, is a symbol of this violent love, a beautiful blossom armed with thorns. It is also an alchemical symbol of Philosophic Mercury, the Queen and feminine archetype, like the white rose picked by the wanderer in the alchemical legend recounted by Silberer.33 Ernst later claimed that he left Gala because she didn’t want him to paint.34 Yet in fact, his first years in Paris were incredibly productive. In this period, when his alchemical imagery reached its first pinnacle with


Fig. 6.5. Max Ernst, Portrait of Gala, ca. 1925, oil on canvas, 81.6 ⫻ 65.4 cm (S/M 788). Collection of Muriel Kallis Newman. Photo by Christopher Gallagher, Chicago. Courtesy Menil Collection, Houston. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

the alchemical androgyne such paintings as Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Fig. 4.4), Gala’s images, both recognizable and disguised, are laden with hermetic symbolism. He cast her as “Virgo” to his “Mercury,” and her portraits, with their thematic polarities of blindness and inner sight, asserted her psychic abilities and the power of her hypnotic gaze. Even Violent Love, created after the breakup, contains the alchemical symbol of a white rose, as if their separation reminded Ernst of the chemical separation of the King and Queen. In 1927, the year after his divorce from Lou became final, Max met MarieBerthe Aurenche—the beginning of the end of Gala’s centrality in his romantic life. Gala still loomed large, however, as a threat to the young MarieBerthe, whose insults concerning Gala provoked a fistfight between Max and Paul Eluard (they remained estranged for over a year because of this incident).35 Whatever the extent of Max and Gala’s continuing intimacy, she did not entirely disappear from his life or his work. In a photographic collage, Loplop Introduces the Members of the Surrealist Group, A Meeting of Friends in 1931 (S/M 1806), Max placed himself near the center of the composition between Gala and Salvador Dalí, whom she had met in 1929 and for whom she finally left her husband, Paul Eluard. The visual proximity between Max and Gala in this collage suggests that he still considered himself close to her while she maintained her role as muse for both Ernst and Dalí, and even for Eluard, who smokes a cigarette beneath them. Ernst’s subsequent comments about their relationship, however, indicated his relief at its demise. Telling his son, Jimmy, about Gala’s new relationship with Dalí, he commented wryly, “I hope she doesn’t tear him into little pieces.” 36 Although Marie-Berthe has received much less attention than Gala in the literature, Ernst’s relationship with her also coincided with a very productive period in his life from the late 1920s through the mid-1930s.37 He continued his technical experiments with frottage and grattage. He returned to collage, creating his three collage novels, and in the early 1930s he also returned to making sculpture. It was during this period that his alter ego, Loplop, first appeared in his work, usually accompanied by images of young women. Ernst continued to create landscapes, while a number of new themes emerged, including the bird families, the shell-flowers, and the Hordes. The latter are grattage paintings in which monstrous human figures in aggressive poses emerge from the landscape. They symbolize the mounting political tensions in Europe in the years just prior to Hitler’s ascendance in Germany. A few representational portraits of Marie-Berthe exist (S/M 1308), but as with


max er nst and alchemy Gala, her disguised presence can be connected to several motifs that clustered during the period of their relationship. When she met Max, Marie-Berthe was working as a secretary in an art gallery on the Left Bank, her first job after having gained her freedom from a girls’ Catholic convent school in Jersey.38 She was a pretty, friendly, and petite young woman of twenty; Max was thirty-six. Their attraction to each other was strong and immediate (Fig. 6.6). Her wealthy family, with their

Fig. 6.6. Lee Miller, photograph of Marie-Berthe Aurenche and Max Ernst, Paris, 1929. Private collection. Photo: courtesy Jürgen Pech, Max-Ernst-Kabinett, Brühl, © Lee Miller Archive.


the alchemical androgyne distant claim to the French throne, opposed the match and tried to get Ernst arrested by issuing a warrant, which he evaded for several days in bars and taxis with the help of his surrealist friends. Soon after their marriage, Ernst obtained legal documents to remain in France, although he was still considered a German citizen.39 Marie-Berthe joined Max in his studio apartment on the rue Tourlacque in Montmartre. Soon after their meeting, she helped create an “exquisite corpse” with Ernst, Max Morise, and André Breton (S/M 1197). Perhaps such early collaborative efforts prompted her to begin to paint on her own, although few works have been firmly attributed to her hand. In her portrait of Breton,40 he sits at a table with a bottle of wine and a white rose on a tiled patio, flanked by two spiraling columns. A headless woman is seated to the right, while in the distance two other figures whisper together on a central path leading through a primordial grassland. Ernst undoubtedly inspired her headless woman, but the painting style is her own. She also painted a dual portrait of herself and Max in a Garden of Eden (Fig. 6.7), a setting reminiscent of the primitive jungles of Henri Rousseau, like the grassland in her portrait of Breton.41 In this painting, called Loplop Paradise, she is nude in the background, crowned with flowers, and surrounded by a male lion and tiger. An exotic flower is superimposed over her pubic area. A more prominent Max dominates the foreground, mesmerizing the viewer with his glittering blue eyes, while a serpent of temptation coils down from a tree on the right toward his neck. In the background of this dreamlike vision, a thin crescent moon floats over a distant landscape. Marie-Berthe’s paradisiacal natural environment recalls Ernst’s own contemporary incorporation of flowers, leaves, and shells to signify the sexual renewal of nature. Max and Marie-Berthe were years apart in age, but she represented a new connection to his youth and creativity, filling the role of the “femme-enfant,” that surrealist concept of the woman-child imbued simultaneously with both sensuality and innocence.42 Ernst’s addition of leaves and flowers to nude portraits of young women recalls similar additions in Picasso’s images of Marie-Thérèse Walter; their contemporary relationship involved an even greater age difference between the artist and his young mistress.43 Around 1927–1928, soon after Ernst and Marie-Berthe married, the bird alter ego Loplop appeared, the culmination of Ernst’s bird imagery that had developed throughout the 1920s. Loplop was often accompanied by full and


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 6.7. Marie-Berthe Aurenche, Loplop Paradise, 1931. Reproduced in Werner Spies, Loplop, 92. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

partial images of women and others in the form of anthropomorphic plantfigures, as discussed in the previous chapter. In one of the Loplop paintings, a naturalistic portrait of Marie-Berthe appears on an easel held by an abstracted geometric Loplop in the background.44 Most of the Loplop paintings are multimedia assemblages in which natural and abstracted flowers, butterflies, and shell forms stand in contrast to the angular, geometric con-


the alchemical androgyne struction of the male hero. The title of one of these paintings, The Prince Consort (S/M 1759), identifies Loplop with Max in his new role as a royal bridegroom, married into the Aurenche family, with its distant claim to the French throne. In another collage, Loplop Presents the Chimera (S/M 1758),45 the sex of the leaf-figure beside Loplop is more obviously feminine than in The Prince Consort, but both figures refer to Marie-Berthe. As Max was defining himself in his paintings through the persona of Loplop, Marie-Berthe is disguised as Loplop’s youthful female companion, represented by attached photographs and frottage fragments and by floating shells, butterflies, or women formed from leaves and flowers. In a later painting, Hermaphrodite (S/M 2130), he combined a feminine shell-flower with an amorphous male figure to form a single Androgyne. In a related work, Loplop Presents a WomanFlower (S/M 2135), the partners are more recognizably human, illuminated by a full moon, while the bird Loplop hovers in the background.46 Concurrent with the appearance of Loplop, several bird-family paintings appear, related to the themes of love, marriage, and sexual union, including One Night of Love (S/M 1134) and After Us, Motherhood (S/M 1209). Floating in these canvases of bird families, larger male and female birds embrace each other and shelter small baby birds. Evolving from the multiple bird grattages of 1925 and 1926, these paintings attest to Ernst’s new dedication to family life, infused with his early affection for Marie-Berthe, who soon acquired her own associations to birds. Roland Penrose and his wife, Valentine Boué, became close friends of the Ernsts during this time, and Penrose described Marie-Berthe as Max’s “bird-like wife,” while Jimmy Ernst recalled that at their first meeting, Marie-Berthe reminded him of exotic waterbirds at the zoo.47 In 1928, concurrently with the making of many of his bird-family paintings, Ernst defended marriage and monogamy in his conversations with the surrealists on sexuality.48 In these paintings, the bird-wives and birdchildren hatching on canvas were inspired by his new marriage to MarieBerthe. Paintings such as Inside the Sight (Fig. 4.21) have alchemical associations, discussed previously, and so again, Ernst conflated hermetic imagery with disguised motifs of his personal life. Once, when Jimmy Ernst visited them in Paris, Max showed him a nude portrait of Marie-Berthe painted in a landscape. Jimmy, who was about ten at the time, scolded his father for showing such a scandalous painting to a boy of his tender age.49 The next day, Max painted out the nude and substituted one of his shell-flowers. Both shells and flowers are connected sym-


max er nst and alchemy bolically to Venus, the goddess of love, and to female sexuality. Whether or not Marie-Berthe was the original inspiration for the shell-flowers in the painting described by Jimmy, she and shell-flowers were made interchangeable by the substitution. As with the bird-families, the shell-flower paintings also have their alchemical associations, related to the pilgrimage of Saint James taken by Nicolas Flamel. Ernst’s comic critique of Marie-Berthe’s Catholic upbringing comprised the “plot” of his second collage novel, Réve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel, 1930. In this story, sexuality and blasphemy merge as a young innocent Catholic girl is beset with erotic temptations. Early in the novel, the main character indulges in incestuous and sacrilegious sexual liaisons, resulting in a split in her personality into a double character, Marceline-Marie. As the novel unfolds, she witnesses religious tortures and shipwrecks, discovering to her horror that birds, insects, and rabbits are gleefully propagating beneath her white dress. Coiffured hair grows unchecked, taking on its own personality and eventually sailing away. Marceline-Marie wakes occasionally throughout the novel, each time finding that her nightgown has risen to increasingly indecent levels. Her “dried-up parents,” mentioned early in the novel, return at the end to console her for the loss of her celestial bridegroom. The novel is an imaginative anticlerical farce permeated with alchemical overtones of death, purification, and regeneration. In addition, this fictional narrative resonates with uncanny prophesy, as the sweet and cheerful Marie-Berthe transformed into a deeply troubled young woman plagued by consciousness of sin and convinced of her own defilement, eventually returning to the arms of the Church and her family for comfort. It is difficult to pinpoint Marie-Berthe’s transformation from the cherished “femme-enfant” to the mentally unbalanced young woman that she became. In an eerie premonition of her increasingly erratic behavior, Ernst’s main character in this second collage novel has a double personality. Various reminiscences of Marie-Berthe reflected this duality, for she was characterized both as charming, fun, and gracious, and, on the contrary, as selfish, shallow, and hysterical. Jimmy Ernst remembered her with great love and compassion for her kindness to him as a child.50 During her first visit to Cologne, Marie-Berthe and Lou began a friendship that was strengthened when Lou moved to Paris in 1933. Marie-Berthe confided in Lou about her problems with Max and asked for advice, offering Lou a place to stay when she fell on hard times. During his visits to Paris, Jimmy was keenly aware of


the alchemical androgyne Marie-Berthe’s vulnerability and profound loneliness in dealing with Max’s infidelities, including those with Meret Oppenheim in 1933, Lotte Lenya in 1934, and Leonor Fini in 1935.51 Lou, in spite of her friendship with MarieBerthe, defended Max and urged Jimmy to be less judgmental, understanding perhaps better than anyone the conflicts between Max’s need for freedom and Marie-Berthe’s need for emotional security. Other descriptions of Marie-Berthe portrayed her as a superficial beauty, a vacuous mind behind a pretty face, who secretly sold Max’s paintings for coiffures and manicures, refusing to work after once having been fired for painting her toenails on the job.52 Troubles in their marriage undoubtedly were generated on both sides, exacerbated by their perpetual lack of money. As Marie-Berthe’s relationship with Max grew more distant, she retreated into religion and her behavior became increasingly erratic. Their problems came to a head in London in 1936, where Max had gone to visit Roland Penrose and to see an exhibition of his own work. Marie-Berthe belatedly arrived in tattered clothing, holding an empty string bag and speaking incoherently. She refused to attend the opening, opting instead for a frantic cab ride to a Catholic priest on the outskirts of London to make her confession. After returning to Paris, the couple separated. The following year, when Leonora Carrington joined Ernst in Paris, Marie-Berthe often followed and harassed them, causing many unpleasant public scenes and even attacking them physically. As Ernst’s relationship with Marie-Berthe deteriorated, plant motifs formerly associated with her beauty and youth became symbols of her increasing dependency and insecurity. In Ernst’s series of the “airplane fly traps,” the sexually symbolic themes of flying and vegetation are conflated into symbols of entrapment and death.53 To create these Venus fly-traps, Ernst transformed broad leaves, similar to those found in Marie-Berthe’s own painted landscapes, into crashed airplanes overgrown with decaying vegetation. Marie-Berthe’s hysterical scenes partly inspired the shrieking monsters of the two Angel of Hearth and Home paintings, especially since these threatening, leaping figures had metamorphosed from the more playful leaf creatures found in the Loplop–La Femme paintings begun during the early days of their relationship.54 The more terrifying stimulus for these maniacal figures, however, was the increasing political unrest throughout Europe and the concurrent social and artistic repression in Nazi Germany.55 Although Ernst had been separated from his homeland for over a decade, Hitler’s rise to power,


max er nst and alchemy first denounced in Ernst’s “Horde” paintings of the late 1920s, had serious effects on Lou and Jimmy as German Jews. Soon after the burning of the Reichstag, Lou lost her job at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum along with all the other Jewish staff members. In June 1933 she moved to Paris, leaving Jimmy to live with his maternal grandparents. Like his father, Jimmy was blond and blue-eyed, once described by a teacher as the perfect Aryan. As racial tensions mounted, he frequently ran into trouble with Hitler’s brownshirted thugs. Twice a year, he visited Lou, Max, and Marie-Berthe in Paris, and each year his return trip to Germany was increasingly perilous. After long delays spent negotiating for a travel permit, Jimmy left Paris in 1938 and sailed to New York, with Max and Lou sending him off with a tearful farewell.56 Over the next few years, Max’s own safety in France grew less and less secure. His companion during this period was the beautiful young Englishwoman Leonora Carrington, whom he met in June 1937,57 while in London to see an exhibition of his work organized by Roland Penrose at the Mayor Gallery.58 Soon after meeting, they traveled to Cornwall to vacation with Roland Penrose and his new companion, Lee Miller, and were joined by, among others, Paul and Nusch Eluard, Man Ray, and Man Ray’s friend, the dancer Adrienne (Ady) Fidelin from Martinique. A photograph from that trip shows the four women sunning themselves, adopting together the calculated pose of the sleeping surrealist muse,59 while another photograph of Max and Leonora together reveals that he was truly smitten (Fig. 6.8). Returning to Paris, Carrington moved into the apartment where Max had lived since separating from Marie-Berthe. Leonora’s father was a wealthy English textile manufacturer who provided her with substantial material comforts and an upper-class background to rebel against, while her Irish mother and nanny bequeathed their enchanted folklore to enrich her childhood and to spawn her lifelong fascination with myth and its power over the imagination. During her school years, she was expelled from a number of prestigious Catholic convent schools for her unconventional behavior, strident independence, and preference for art over the rigors of scholastic discipline. Enrolled at the age of fifteen at Miss Penrose’s Academy in Florence, she developed an appreciation for the precise painting of Italian Renaissance masters. The following year, studying in Paris at the Académie Chaumière, she grew to appreciate more modern artists and had her first contact with surrealist painting. She returned to England in 1934 and


the alchemical androgyne

Fig. 6.8. Lee Miller, photograph of E. L. T. Mesens, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, and Paul Eluard, Cornwall, 1937. © Lee Miller Archive.

began with great reluctance her entrance into English society, including a presentation at court, attendance at the Ascot races, and a lavish debutante party at the Ritz Hotel in London. Unimpressed by upper-class society, she convinced her parents to let her pursue her art studies at the newly founded academy of Amédée Ozenfant, cofounder of the Purist movement, who encouraged her natural tendency to emphasize line and contour in her work. That same year, after Leonora saw the large International Surrealist Exhibition organized by Roland Penrose and Herbert Read, her mother gave her a copy of Herbert Read’s Surrealism, in which a reproduction of Max Ernst’s Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale provoked a profound resonance within her.


max er nst and alchemy Although just turned twenty, Leonora had a strong foundation to develop her own mature style of painting when she met Max Ernst.60 Her first major painting, Self Portrait: At the Inn of the Dawn Horse, was painted soon after their arrival in Paris in the summer of 1937. In the painting Leonora sits in a vacant room beneath a white rocking horse, based on a hobbyhorse they bought in a Paris flea market. Photographs of Max in their sparsely decorated apartment show that this hobbyhorse lacked a tail and had the same damaged muzzle and slender back legs as in her painting, suggesting almost human proportions.61 Additional anthropomorphic associations are found in the plush upholstered chair, whose right arm ends in a hand and whose legs are supported by high-heeled shoes. Leonora had enjoyed horseback riding as a young woman in England. Her electrified mane of dark brown hair and her white riding pants reaffirm her close association to the horse on the wall and to the wild white horse seen through the window galloping away into the distant landscape. She reaches out toward a lactating hyena, whose intense blue eyes stare out at the viewer, as does she. The eyes of this hyena identify it as a disguised portrait of Max Ernst, despite its evident female sex.62 Because of anatomical similarities between male and female hyenas, these animals had been regarded in legend as hermaphrodites.63 By portraying Max as a hyena, she casts him as an androgynous character, while establishing her own iconic identification with horses. Ernst depicted horses before meeting Carrington (Fig. 7.5), but they now reappeared in his work with close associations to her. Throughout the summer, Leonora and Max remained in Paris to collaborate on the decor for a new production of Albert Jarry’s Ubu enchaîné.64 Their decision to move to the south of France was provoked by Marie-Berthe’s continued public attacks on them and by Ernst’s decision to distance himself from the surrealist movement. Paul Eluard, whose friendship with Ernst had been repaired and strengthened by the mid-1930s, realigned himself with the Stalinist Communist Party, which the surrealist group (Eluard included) had long since denounced as a counterrevolutionary formation. In doing so, Eluard was fully aware that his participation in surrealism was over. Max and Leonora’s first year together can be reconstructed through the fictional veil of her short story “Little Francis,” written during the winter of 1937–1938, when Max briefly returned to Marie-Berthe. In the story, Leonora disguised herself as the young boy, Francis, who travels to the south of France with his Uncle Ubriaco, all the while pursued by Ubriaco’s jealous daughter


the alchemical androgyne Amelia, a character based on Marie-Berthe.65 Carrington’s fictional identification of herself as a young boy forecast many of the sexual inversions and androgynous unions that appeared both in her work and in Ernst’s throughout the following year.66 In the early spring of 1938, Max returned to Saint-Martin d’Ardèche fully committed to Leonora, and they began a prolific period of individual works and close collaborations. Four of Leonora’s paintings were included in surrealist exhibitions of that year.67 She also wrote prolifically, producing The House of Fear (1937–1938, published 1938) and the collection titled La Dame ovale (1937–1938, published 1939), short stories containing many symbolic associations to the imagery in her paintings. Ernst’s introduction to The House of Fear, titled “Preface, or Loplop Presents the Bride of the Wind,” reinforced Carrington’s association with horses, and his collage illustrations, inspired by her texts, combine horses with both male and female human figures. Comparisons of their works reveal how closely they merge each other’s personal symbols. One striking example is found by comparing Carrington’s painting Femme et Oiseau, ca. 1937,68 and a collage illustration by Ernst for La Dame ovale (Fig. 6.9). Carrington’s painting shows a long-necked horse with a flowing mane and human face that somewhat resembles Carrington herself. The horse’s lower right contour is shared by a small magpie, which relates loosely to a passage in La Dame ovale where a magpie named Matilda flies in through a broken window to perch on the head of a hobbyhorse named Tartar. In Ernst’s collage, the magpie is joined to the horse’s forelock. Considering Ernst’s extensive use of birds as personal symbols and Carrington’s more recent self-identification with horses, it is plain that both images use symbolic animals to reflect the relationship of their creators, and that their physical fusion re-created an Androgyne, symbolic of the creative connections between the two artists. The collages that Ernst constructed for Carrington’s House of Fear have similar androgynous features. In one illustration (S/M 2300), a woman with a horse’s head holds Hercules’s club, a reference to the myth in which Hercules and Omphale, the Queen of Lydia, exchanged clothes. This same myth provided the inspiration for a later collage, reproduced in the exhibition catalog Paramyths. In another collage for The House of Fear (S/M 2301), Ernst created two androgynous figures by combining horse heads, again symbols of Leonora, with masculine human bodies. Mimicking the poses of fashion models, they are pursued through a perspectival maze by a young man in


max er nst and alchemy

Fig. 6.9. Max Ernst, collage illustration for Leonora Carrington, La Dame ovale,1938 (S/M 2319). © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

knee breeches. To the left, their human counterparts, identified as a man and a woman by the size of their feet, dream peacefully in bed. In addition to his illustrations for Leonora’s stories, Ernst continued to paint landscapes, perfecting the technique of decalcomania, which recently had been “invented” by Oscar Dominguez.69 Ernst transformed these molten, spongy textures into evocative figural towers resembling the natural stalactites found in the nearby caves of Aven d’Orgnac.70 He also constructed a se-


the alchemical androgyne ries of cement relief sculptures and wall murals to decorate the dilapidated farmhouse he and Leonora bought in Saint-Martin d’Ardèche. These sculptural creatures were derived from the hybrid characters in the earlier collages of Une Semaine de bonté, and at the same time anticipated subsequent sculptures and paintings, particularly the large-scale sculptural group Capricorn of 1948 (S/M 2474).71 In several locations around the house, male and female figures are in close proximity, or actually superimposed—as in the wall mural in the Loggia, where an owl- or cat-woman merges with a horned male fish, or the half-length couple of indeterminate zoological origin fusing over a window (S/M 2309, S/M 2310). The large couple on the façade share these hybrid animal characteristics (S/M 2304). The male has upraised arms and a beaklike nose, and a small bird-child is connected to his lower body, while the woman closely resembles a collage Ernst used as the cover illustration for the 1937 Cahiers d’Art issue devoted to his work (S/M 1833). Like the androgynous figure in that collage, she holds a small lion’s head in her hand. On the garden wall a horned quadruped places an affectionate human hand on the abdomen of a horned mermaid (S/M 2311). The Saint-Martin sculptures serve as a fulcrum within the fluid continuity and transformation of Ernst’s imagery from the early 1930s to his later works. There does not seem to be an encompassing alchemical “program” in their arrangement within the house. However, the connection between these animal hybrids and the collaged characters from Une Semaine de bonté suggests some alchemical references; for example, the association between the women and lions in the first chapter of the novel, “Dimanche,” and the large woman holding a lion’s head on the façade of the house. More important are the sexual inversions of traditional mythic characters, such as the horned male “mermaid,” which, like Carrington’s characterization of herself as a young boy in Little Francis, suggests that both she and Ernst scrambled sexual identity in their figural work in a way that pointed to the creation of androgynous hybrids. Ernst, who had been constructing androgynous imagery for years, helped to set her on this path, although Carrington had read mystical literature before they met. After her move to Mexico in 1942, and during the many productive years that followed, hermeticism and myth would become increasingly pervasive in her work.72 Her painting Oval Lady of that year is clearly alchemical, with its egg-shaped alembic vessel on the left.73 In September 1939, the productivity and relative peacefulness of their re-


max er nst and alchemy treat was shattered when Germany invaded Poland and France declared war. Because Ernst had never officially become a French citizen, he was arrested as an enemy alien and sent to the nearby prison of Largentière with the imminent threat of being sent back to Germany, where he had been classified by Hitler as a “degenerate” artist. This first of many prisons was fairly lax, and Leonora visited him often, bringing art supplies so that he could continue painting. After six weeks he was transferred to the camp of Les Milles, near Aix-en-Provence, where her visits were denied. In spite of horrendous conditions, he continued to work, now in the company of Hans Bellmer, with whom he shared a small cell. Several decalcomania paintings are dated to this period, including Alice in 1939 (S/M 2338) and Woman Changing Herself into a Bird (S/M 2339), mythical images of Leonora that contributed to the genesis of The Robing of the Bride. Through the intercession of Carrington and Paul Eluard in Paris, Ernst was released by the French authorities in December to return to Saint-Martin d’Ardèche. Throughout the spring, the happiness and fragility of their reunion was evident in their work, including a collaborative work titled Rencontre, in which Carrington’s horse-faced women and Ernst’s mythic hybrid animals meet together in a barren landscape scarred with menacing dormant volcanoes.74 The anxieties of this turbulent period are reflected in Carrington’s Portrait of Max Ernst (Fig. 6.10).75 Ernst’s red fish-tailed feathered robe is based on his androgynous mermaid sculptures and paintings at the Saint-Martin d’Ardèche house. There is a chilling sense of isolation as Ernst wanders alone in an arctic landscape while Carrington’s personal symbol of a white horse is frozen within an iceberg in the distance. Another small horse is contained within the lantern Ernst carries to light his way. This image closely resembles “The Hermit,” a card from the Major Arcana of the tarot deck, symbolizing isolation and introspection. In the Waite tarot deck, designed by the English artist Pamela Colman Smith, the hermit also stands on an icy landscape to further emphasize the introversion signified by this card. A hermit with a lantern is also found in an alchemical emblem, as a reminder that the alchemist, like the artist, must always follow nature.76 The lantern that Ernst holds resembles the transparent glass alembic of the traditional alchemist. After the initial alchemical process of death and destruction, the King and Queen, Sulphur and Mercury, are separated in the whitening phase of albedo. If Carrington saw the events of the previous fall as a cruel parallel to


Fig. 6.10. Leonora Carrington, Portrait of Max Ernst, 1940, oil on canvas, 50.2 ⫻ 26.7 cm. Young-Mallin collection. Photo: Brewster Arts Ltd. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy these alchemical processes, her depiction of this icy environment recalls this whitening phase of separation and purification. According to alchemical legends, the Queen revives first, followed by the King, who appears robed in crimson.77 Carrington correctly ascribed the feminine white to the female horse, and the masculine red to Max’s robe. Sometime during the spring, Leonora began a related painting in which she rests beside a prancing horse while Ernst, wearing the beginnings of another elaborate robe and seen in profile as in the earlier painting, returns to her on the right side of the canvas.78 This work remained unfinished and was inscribed May 1940, when Ernst was arrested again and Leonora began to suffer the mental anguish that eventually led to her hospitalization.79 Ernst’s Robing of the Bride (Fig. 6.11) was related to Leonora’s portraits of him, through their shared use of red robes and alchemical symbolism.80 Inspired by the decalcomania paintings he had executed during his internment the previous fall, Ernst created a large central female figure wearing a brilliant red robe that separates to reveal her body, resembling the nudes of Lucas Cranach.81 The head of this creature closely resembles an owl, while a third mysterious eye peers outward and to the right, revealing a second person hidden beside, or merged with, the larger bird. An article on French owls in Minotaure 82 described their features, nocturnal habits, and mating rituals. Undeserving of their reputation as omens of misfortune, these birds are in reality noble hunters, faithful lovers, and doting parents. Most scholars interpret the central robed figure of this painting as a woman with the head of an owl and a strange third eye. It is possible to see it as a composite fusion of a large red male owl fused to his female partner, whose red feathered head turns in profile to reveal her single eye. The Minotaure article also mentioned the mythic connection between the owl and Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Like the Greek goddess, the female owl in Robing of the Bride wears above her breast a small pendant formed of a golden face.83 Other figures in the painting include a nude woman with an elaborate headdress, whom the central figure pushes away, and a shorter figure to the left with the head of a swan and a cloak of green feathers, carrying a broken spear. Crying at the lower right is a bizarre green hermaphrodite whose winged arm is similar to that of the childlike creature found on the façade of the Saint-Martin d’Ardèche house. In the background is a smaller painting containing another red-robed Androgyne.


Fig. 6.11. Max Ernst, The Robing of the Bride, 1940, oil on canvas, 130 ⫻ 96 cm (S/M 2361). Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. Photo by David Heald. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy Ernst was working once again from his imagination, his general sense of alchemical legend, and his stock of late 1930s imagery. The small hermaphrodite combines the genitals of both sexes, and its pregnant belly, as well as the colorful metamorphosis of its wing from green to red, suggests the imminent transformation of Primal Matter and the birth of the red Philosopher’s Stone. The central figure is an androgynous combination of the Queen’s nude female body and the King’s red robe, topped by a doubleheaded figure composed of a full-face male owl and a female owl in profile. Ernst’s Robing of the Bride thus suggests the “chemical wedding” of Sulphur and Mercury, the reddening phase of rubedo, the sexual conjunction of the King and Queen. Their union produces the Philosopher’s Stone, an androgynous substance capable of its own multiplication—hence the duplicate painting in the background. Although Ernst signed and dated the painting 1940, it is difficult to determine whether he finished it by the time of his arrest in May, when the German offensive began in Belgium, Holland, and France.84 Ernst was taken to the camp at Loriol in La Drôme. Believing that he was in great danger and fearing for her own life, Leonora escaped to Spain, where she suffered a breakdown and was placed in a mental institution in Santander on the northwest coast. Her painful psychological experiences were reconstructed in a harrowing narrative, “Down Below,” written in Mexico in 1943 at the encouragement of Pierre Mabille, a dedicated hermeticist.85 At one point, she imagined that she was turning her blood into “comprehensive energy— masculine and feminine, microcosmic and macrocosmic—and into a wine that was drunk by the moon and the sun.” 86 This quotation, along with other alchemical references within the story, suggests that she viewed her descent into madness and her recovery as a type of alchemical journey, not unlike the psychological “introversion” described by Silberer long ago. Meanwhile, Ernst was released from prison once again. He used his marriage to Marie-Berthe to support his claim for freedom, although in truth that marriage had already been officially dissolved. Returning to SaintMartin d’Ardèche, he found Leonora gone. In her despair and confusion over his absence and the impending terrors of the war, she had sold their farmhouse for a bottle of brandy in exchange for receiving her exit papers. Ernst depicted her escape in several works, including two drawings of the Bride of the Wind (S/M 2368 and S/M 2369) and the paintings I Saw a Grand Duchess Who Lost Her Shoe, The Flight, and Spanish Doctor, Fat Horse and Young Girl


the alchemical androgyne (S/M 2355, S/M 2356, and S/M 2357), all dated 1940. In the center of Europe after the Rain (S/M 2395), Ernst depicted a young woman turning her back on a bird creature, recalling the women seen from behind that had appeared in his works when Gala returned to Eluard. With rolls of recent paintings in his suitcase, Ernst journeyed to Villa Air-Bel in Marseilles, where he was reunited with several surrealist friends and other artists and writers seeking emigration from occupied France. Lou was also there, having remained in Paris until the Nazi invasion forced her retreat to the south of France. Ernst offered to remarry her in order to help her obtain a visa, but with unwarranted optimism, she refused, believing that she was in no immediate danger.87 For a while, Lou was sheltered by the poet Jean Giono in Manosque, Maritime Alps, where she would remain until being discovered there in September 1943. In these desperate times, many alliances of convenience were struck. At the urging of the surrealist painter Kay Sage, Peggy Guggenheim (Fig. 6.12) went to Marseilles to offer financial help to the circle of surrealists hoping to emigrate. She agreed to pay for Ernst’s passage in exchange for some of his paintings, and during the course of these negotiations, they became lovers.88 They were together in Marseilles to celebrate his fiftieth birthday with a bottle of wine brought from Saint-Martin d’Ardèche. While Peggy was finalizing the travel arrangements for her children, her ex-husband Laurence Vail, and his wife, Kay Boyle, Ernst left for Spain. At the border, it was discovered that his papers still were not in order, but a border guard who admired his art pointed out the train that headed for Madrid as well as the one returning to France. Taking this kindly hint, Ernst boarded the proper train and thus obtained his freedom. He traveled on to Lisbon to wait for Peggy, and there, through a series of coincidences reminiscent of the movie Casablanca, he was reunited with Leonora. She had evaded her family’s plan to move her from Santander to an institution in South Africa by escaping from her captors in Lisbon, where she sought refuge at the Mexican embassy. Thinking that Ernst had been sent to Germany, she made an alliance with a Mexican diplomat, Renato Leduc, whom she had met in Paris. He offered to marry her so that she too could emigrate. Peggy arrived in Lisbon to find Max hopelessly pursuing Leonora. Opting for safety over a renewed affair with Ernst, Carrington wed Leduc, and they sailed for New York just a few days before Peggy and Max boarded the Pan Am Clipper.


max er nst and alchemy After arriving at La Guardia airport on July 14, Max was detained by immigration authorities for three days, until his case was reviewed. He was eventually released into the custody of his son, Jimmy. Jimmy became Peggy’s assistant, working closely with her to open her new gallery, the Art of This Century. Peggy’s triplex apartment temporarily became a meeting place for the exiled surrealists. Leonora’s presence in New York exacerbated the already problematic nature of Max and Peggy’s relationship. To Peggy’s chagrin, Max often spent his days with Leonora, and Jimmy remembered the bittersweet intensity of these encounters: I don’t recall ever again seeing such a strange mixture of desolation and euphoria in my father’s face when he returned from his first meeting with Leonora in New York. One moment he was the man I remembered from Paris—alive, glowing, witty and at peace and then I saw in his face the dreadful nightmare that so often comes with waking. Each day that he saw her, and it was often, ended the same way. I hoped never to experience such pain myself, and I was at a loss of how to help him.89 During this period, Ernst painted two versions of The Anti-Pope, a work with some derivations from The Robing of the Bride. Peggy often complained that Ernst never painted her, an irritating situation considering his numerous portrayals of Leonora within his landscapes, even after her departure. When Peggy saw the first version of this work in his studio (S/M 2392), she was moved to tears, mistakenly identifying the profile face of the girl in the upper right corner as herself at the age of eight (Fig. 6.12). She showed Max one of her childhood photographs to prove his magical conjuration. Suggesting that he title the painting Mystic Marriage, she identified Max as the horse at the right edge of the painting being fondled by herself as a “femmeenfant,” while her daughter Pegeen looks toward them from the middle of the canvas. Ernst began the second version of this painting around the time of their marriage, when the political repercussions of Pearl Harbor finally put an end to Ernst’s matrimonial procrastination. More accurate identifications of the disguised characters in this romantic triangle can be made in this second ver-


the alchemical androgyne

Fig. 6.12. Photograph of Peggy Guggenheim with The Antipope, ca. 1942. Photo courtesy Jürgen Pech, Max-Ernst-Kabinett, Brühl.

sion (Fig. 6.13). On the left edge of the painting is a couple, a woman in an opened red robe and an agitated horse that looks toward the right side of the painting. Peggy recognized the swollen abdomen of this female monster as her own, although she read the horse and the woman as a single figure. Actually, the two figures are physically separated, although the owl-headdress of the horse eclipses and hides the woman’s face. Ernst portrayed himself as the horse looking anxiously at the group of female figures on the right. The tall horse with the magical third eye is Leonora, whose emotional withdrawal


Fig. 6.13. Max Ernst, The Antipope, 1941–1942, oil on canvas, 160 ⫻ 127 cm (S/M 2391). Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice. Photo by David Heald. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

the alchemical androgyne and steadfast refusal to leave her husband cause her body to be encased in armor. Pegeen wears a revealing pink flounced shift and rests her head on the horse’s shoulder. The other female figures may represent Leonora’s friends Catherine Yarrow and Kay Boyle, both of whom had encouraged Leonora to abandon Max in Saint-Martin d’Ardèche and in Lisbon, and both of whom were in New York by this time.90 Firm in her decision to make a final break, Leonora left in 1942 to live in Mexico,91 although traces of her features continued to haunt Ernst’s imagery. In an illustration titled First Memorable Conversation with the Chimera (S/M 2424), reproduced in the first issue of the New York Surrealist periodical VVV in June 1942, Ernst included a text interspersed with several drawings that recorded the recent course of their relationship. Hybrid creatures based on horses and birds romp in sexual abandon, while at the lower left, the horse-Leonora is again seen in flight. In other drawings from 1942 (S/M 2407 and 2408), the bird-headed Loplop reappeared, this time accompanied by a female bird (Peggy) and a budding adolescent bird-girl (Pegeen). As during the first years of his marriage to Marie-Berthe, Ernst portrayed himself as the patriarch of his new bird family, in a futile attempt to depict familial harmony amid personal conflicts. Father, mother, and daughter bond together in his Surrealism and Painting (S/M 2419), a seminal work of 1942, in which the bird-artist paints a canvas covered with drip marks from a punctured paint can, a technical experiment Ernst later shared with Jackson Pollock.92 During the early 1940s, the fascination with hermetic philosophy continued to flourish among the exiled surrealists. The Max Ernst issue of View (April 1942) celebrated him as the alchemist-magician of the surrealist movement.93 Other texts in View confirmed that hermeticism was a favorite topic of discussion.94 Kurt Seligmann published several alchemical emblems and other hermetic illustrations that would later reappear in his book The Mirror of Magic (1948).95 In one article, he posed the question “What about magic?” to which Ernst replied that magic is “the means of approaching the unknown by other ways than those of science and religion.” 96 For the March 1943 issue of VVV, Ernst created several collages, including an illustration for André Breton’s essay “Situation of Surrealism between the Two Wars,” depicting a nude woman split in two and superimposed upon the cabalistic Tree of Life (S/M 2430). His choice of a mystical Jewish image may have stemmed from the concern he and Jimmy had for Lou, who was indeed in imminent


max er nst and alchemy danger. The following September she was discovered in the south of France and shipped to the Drancy detention camp outside Paris, where a final photograph of her was taken in May 1944. Soon after, she was transported to Auschwitz, where, tragically, she died just months before the camps were liberated.97 Jimmy expressed his great sadness that in the midst of his frustrations over his inability to help his mother, Lou, his father’s relationship with Peggy Guggenheim had thrown him into one of the most vital arenas of twentiethcentury American art.98 Jimmy worked as Peggy’s secretary while the stage designer and architect Frederick Kiesler designed her gallery, the Art of This Century, which opened October 20, 1942. For the third show late in the year, Peggy planned an exhibition of thirty-one women artists. She sent Max to their studios to select works to be included. Entering the studio of Dorothea Tanning, he found the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his life. He was fascinated by her seminude self-portrait,99 in which she stands at the threshold of a series of doors receding into the distance, all mysteriously ajar. She wears an elaborately theatrical blouse decorated with ribbons and lace cuffs, while her skirt is composed of wooden twigs and branches metamorphosing into nude female bodies. A flying lemur crouches like a pet gargoyle at her bare feet. Ernst announced that the painting should be titled Birthday, and it would remain in their collection as a cherished remembrance of the beginning of their relationship. Tanning grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, nurturing her intellectual curiosity at the local public library. She received her training at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1934 and then moved to New York, where she discovered an affinity with her work in the large exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism.” 100 In 1939, she visited Europe for the first time, bearing letters of introduction to Ernst and other surrealists, but found no one remaining in Paris that August, as they had all begun their escapes to the south of France in advance of the approaching invasion. When the war broke out in September, Tanning escaped to Stockholm, staying with her Swedish relatives until she secured passage on a ship and returned to New York. Her work had already received recognition through the support of Julien Levy, who introduced Ernst and Tanning at a dinner party about a year before they met again that snowy afternoon in late 1942.101 Entering her studio, Ernst noticed a chessboard and offered to play a game, which she diplomatically lost. He re-


the alchemical androgyne turned the following day to give her another chance to win. By the end of the week, he moved in with her, rapidly extricating himself from the life, as well as the apartment, of Peggy Guggenheim. Ernst and Tanning played chess together often, and the game became a significant part of both artists’ representations of each other. They spent the summer of 1944 near Great River, Long Island. Upon their arrival, Ernst sent an urgent postcard back to Julien Levy in New York, who was to join them soon: “No chess set available at the village store.” 102 Ernst transformed the garage into a sculpture studio and began to create a number of sculptures based on the theme of chess, such as The King Playing with the Queen (S/M 2465). Ernst and Levy both designed chess sets, including one with egg-shaped pieces for playing at the beach on a board drawn in the sand. Later in the year, Levy held an exhibition on the theme of chess, for which several artists contributed chess sets, including Ernst, Calder, Duchamp, Man Ray, and Tanguy.103 On December 15, a performance was organized by Duchamp, who persuaded the grand master George Koltanowski to play, blindfolded, a number of simultaneous games with Ernst, Tanning, Levy, and others.104 The theme of chess, with its major players the King and Queen, provided analogies to the two archetypal characters of alchemy. The egg-shaped pieces of the chess set created on Long Island carry further connections to the “Philosophic Egg,” or alembic vessel. More convincing alchemical references can be found in many of Ernst’s other sculptures of that summer, such as Moonmad (S/M 2473.2), a Janus-like figure that can be interpreted as a male and female character fused together. Another sculpture created during this summer, titled Young Woman in Lunar Form (S/M 2466) and also known as White Queen, suggests the identification of a chess piece with the lunar alchemical Queen. In 1945, shortly after Tanning recovered from a serious bout of encephalitis, she and Ernst entered a contest, sponsored by Albert Lewin for his film The Private Life of Bel Ami, to paint a picture on the theme of the Temptation of St. Anthony (S/M 2487).105 Ernst’s painting won the contest. With the prize money, they bought land in Sedona, Arizona, an area they had first visited together on a summer vacation in 1943.106 The following year, they began building a house on a rise that Tanning named “Capricorn Hill.” Conditions were primitive and austere, and for the first few years they even had


max er nst and alchemy to carry their water from a well. There, in the middle of Oak Creek Canyon in the Arizona desert, nights provided opportunities to watch the stars and to read by the light of kerosene lamps. A number of visitors appeared from Europe, including Roland Penrose and his wife, Lee Miller, who took several photographs of the couple (e.g., Fig. 6.14) and their progress in building their own home. It was a most productive period for both artists, Tanning producing her most famous work, Maternity, seen on the easel in Figure 6.14, and Ernst creating numerous landscapes and decorating the house, as he had done in Saint-Martin d’Ardèche, with cement sculptures.

Fig. 6.14. Lee Miller, photograph of Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst, with her painting Maternity on the easel, ca. 1947. Photo: courtesy Jürgen Pech, Max-Ernst-Kabinett, Brühl, © Lee Miller Archive.


the alchemical androgyne

Fig. 6.15. Dorothea Tanning, Max in a Blue Boat, ca. 1947, oil on canvas, 61 ⫻ 50 cm. Artist’s collection. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Both artists created paintings to celebrate their relationship. In Max in a Blue Boat (Fig. 6.15), Tanning cast Ernst as a magician.107 He sits in a blue boat in the center of the canvas holding fire in his hand and wearing a vest covered with crescent moons and stars. Tanning is also in the boat, and the two of them are playing a game of chess without pieces. As if the board has come to life, black and white bedsheets rise and begin to metamorphose into birds.


max er nst and alchemy In the center of the horizon, a sun or moon is cut perfectly in two. To the left is a large case with niches holding small dolls, derived either from Ernst’s kachina doll collection or from earlier doll imagery found in Tanning’s paintings. Like Carrington’s Portrait of Max Ernst, this image can be compared to a tarot card. In the Waite tarot deck, the Six of Swords contains a rowboat with a mother and child who pass over water, symbolizing a passage to a calmer place after turmoil. Although Tanning probably did not base her painting on this card,108 its meaning is not far from the truth of their departure from New York. Peggy Guggenheim’s recently published book, Out of This Century, portrayed them both in a hostile light, and their presence in New York had become increasingly uncomfortable. On October 24, 1946, Ernst and Tanning married in a double ceremony in Hollywood with Man Ray and his bride, Juliet Browner. Two years later, Ernst completed a painting commemorating this marriage titled Chemical Nuptials (Fig. 6.16), an alchemical phrase indicating the union of Sulphur and Mercury. In Ernst’s painting the larger male figure stands in the center. His triangular face, with its spiraling lobed eyes, and his body are constructed of interlocking geometric planes of warm colors, mainly yellows and oranges. To the right, the bride is composed of a cooler range of blues and aquamarines. Their chests are joined in a folding gridlike panel, and they reach out their hands toward each other, standing above a curious blue-green reptilian animal, half-turtle and half–gila monster, similar to the dragon found in traditional images of the alchemical Androgyne (Fig. 6.1). In the left background is a red form shaped like an alembic vessel. This image of the “Chemical Wedding” continues a recurring theme dating back to a frottage from Ernst’s Histoire naturelle series (Fig. 4.13). In the 1948 version, the two archetypal characters of the alchemical drama, the warm Sulphur and the cool Mercury, are abstracted portraits of himself and Dorothea. The geometrical features of the bridegroom are common to several human figures and portraits dating to the mid- to late 1940s. The geometric features of these figures derive in part from Ernst’s earlier depictions of Loplop, which often had assumed geometric form. Geometric aspects of Ernst’s figures had also been influenced by his recent contacts with Native American masks.109 In addition, these new geometric forms derive from stereometric objects exhibited at the Poincaré Institute that had been used to illustrate algebraic equations.110 Ernst had been interested in mathematical models for some time and encouraged Man Ray to photograph these objects, which ap-


Fig. 6.16. Max Ernst, Chemical Nuptials, 1948, oil on canvas, 150.5 ⫻ 66.5 cm (S/M 2594). Private collection, Paris. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy peared in Cahiers d’Art in 1936. His portrait Euclid (S/M 2496) reflects these mathematical interests, while at the same time representing a strange sexual hybrid combining Euclid the mathematician and Euclid the cross-dressing philosopher.111 In 1948, Ernst completed his large-scale sculptural group Capricorn, which he once identified as a family portrait.112 As with the bird families of the late 1920s, Ernst combined male and female creatures, along with their fanciful pets, to celebrate his marriage. The horned King and his fish-crowned mermaid Queen are the culmination of the horned animals and mermaids that decorated his home at Saint Martin d’Ardèche, as well as being close cousins to the entire menagerie of Ernst’s male and female characters, beginning with the horned, priapic males and headless females of the Cologne Dada period. Individual animals did not symbolize one woman exclusively; that is, birds appeared before he met Marie-Berthe, horses before Leonora, and mermaids before Dorothea. As these relationships developed, however, certain creatures came to be firmly associated with particular women in his life. In 1949, as part of a retrospective exhibition catalog, Ernst published a short series of collages with his own poetry in a section titled “Paramyths.” 113 In these collages, he continued to play with androgynous imagery by combining male and female figures and their sexual symbols. In one collage, Strange Hallucination (Fig. 6.17), he included the god Apollo, who holds a sun disk in one hand and a whip in the other, thus conflating the alchemical symbol of the sun with a whip derived from the dream-memory of his parents’ intercourse. Hidden behind Apollo is a larger female figure, originally an illustration of the sculpture of Artemis (Diana) of Ephesus, the goddess of animals and the moon, whose head, feet, and hands barely protrude from beneath the carefully arranged Victorian nightclothes.114 In choosing depictions of Apollo and Artemis (Diana) to form his Androgyne, Ernst selected mythological deities typically associated with the sun and the moon. Rising above these two figures is the skull of a large bird, as if Loplop has been stripped to the bone through some alchemical operation that has simultaneously united the male and female aspects of his personality. Beneath this Androgyne is a ram’s horn, whose encircling shape recalls the coiling serpents and dragons typically placed at the bottom of the alchemical Androgyne, representing the Primal Matter from which the couple arose. In this collection of poems, Ernst paid tribute to Dorothea while associating himself with Hermes.


Fig. 6.17. Max Ernst, Strange Hallucination, 1948, collage illustration for Paramyths, p. 25, published 1949. 25.27 ⍝ 18.7 cm (S/M 2673). Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Š 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Not only did the unconscious streetlights whisper their sinful names with silent music and pale devotion Hermes and Dorothea Hermes and Dorothea but also they watched her picking high-heeled oranges in her

max er nst and alchemy blouse and reverentially noticed that they were black and warm. They melted away between their fingers with laughter and equinoxial storms.115 As Ernst equates himself to Hermes in this poem, he recalls his first identification with the god Mercury/Hermes in Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1) and other works of the early Paris period. Ernst had long ago assumed the persona of this messenger of the gods, the legendary founder of alchemy and author of the most famous compendium of ancient hermetic wisdom, The Emerald Tablet, with Dorothea as his feminine partner. In a later interview, constructed with fanciful fairy tales and titles of his recent paintings, Ernst again played with the masculine and feminine versions of his characters, creating a text containing many references to his continuing marital happiness: “And there it is, O Chemical Wedding! Where once upon a time a star rose, now Hirondil Hirondelle arise.” 116 In the most extensive version of Ernst’s biographical notes, he posed the following question as the final entry from 1975: Final Question: Max Ernst wishes to permit himself the liberty of asking his critical male readers and gentle female readers whether they think he has earned the flattering title accorded to him by one of the greatest (and most neglected) poets of our time, René Crevel: The magician of barely detectable displacements.117 Ernst posed the question of his claim to being a magician to both men and women, just as he had so often included both male and female imagery over the course of his long career. Sexuality was central to his work, derived from his early study of Freudian and alchemical symbolism and nurtured by his own joyously active libido. In an interview with Edouard Roditi, he admitted the close connection between his desire to paint and his physical desire for those he loved: . . . In order to create a painting of any kind of image, I must first conceive it in my mind and then desire so ardently to see it with my own eyes that this desire can be compared only to the des-


the alchemical androgyne perate need that one might feel to see in one’s own physical presence the loved one whose absence one desperately regrets. My relationship to my work is, as you quite properly said, of a frankly erotic nature, even if the actual painting or sculpture isn’t in any way erotic.118 In his essay in the 1942 View issue, Nicolas Calas recognized the unique and significant role of women in Ernst’s images. Max Ernst’s latest work modified our conception of the woman. Among the painters of our time only two others have given us a new version of man’s companion: Modigliani and Picasso. The change they first brought about was limited to the world of pure aesthetics while in Picasso—I am thinking of the portraits of Dora Maar—although the artist does give the woman a new soul—she only has the merit to fit into [italics in the original] his conception of a world whose growth we have watched for over a period of years. It is not the woman who fits into Max Ernst’s cosmos, for his world only comes into existence with the woman. . . . Eloquently Max Ernst tells us that in the Surrealist conception of life man asks the woman to share his dreams. Without common dreams no spiritual understanding, no purity can exist. In this extremist conception of life where to transform reality and to preserve our dreams are the only admissible sources of inspiration and the only values for judging conduct it becomes possible to understand the significance of Max Ernst’s image of the woman. She lived with him since the days of the earliest collages for he had dreamt of her since childhood; she sprang out of the myths (or the soul) of Romantic Germany and became the increasingly individualized being he and only he knows how to portray. . . . Born in the night, like the moon, the woman of our dreams inspires. The woman in our dreams and in the rich dreams Max Ernst is now giving us.119 Herbert Silberer interpreted the Androgyne, with its fused male and female archetypes, as the polarized aspects of the human mind, resolved of all conflicts from childhood and integrated into the mature adult psyche. Ernst’s


max er nst and alchemy earliest androgynous figures related both to his parents and to himself. The death, revival, and sexual union of the King and Queen produced the Philosopher’s Stone, the young Red King, with whom Ernst identified in his early works. In subsequent stages of his career, androgynous couplings continued, and from the late 1920s, with the appearance of Loplop and “La Femme 100 têtes,” Ernst spoke insistently of these archetypes as being symbols of the polarized aspects of his own identity.120 Yet throughout his career, he cast the real women in his life—Luise Straus, Gala Eluard, MarieBerthe Aurenche, Leonora Carrington, Peggy Guggenheim, and Dorothea Tanning—as representatives of the feminine archetype, both in recognizable portraits and as hermetic symbols. Ernst’s masculine and feminine archetypes, like the horned man and his nude consort, evolved and merged with his own recognizable characteristics and those of the women he loved. For Ernst, the Androgyne was both a metaphor for psychic development and a visual model of his relationships. The creative energy of these talented women, their personalities, both nurturing and volatile, served as a perfect balance to Ernst’s creative energies. In their written and painted depictions of him, Lou, Marie-Berthe, Leonora, and Dorothea acknowledged his search for a vision beyond the mundane appearances of reality, and they celebrated his role as a magician in their lives. They understood the hermetic duality of his personality and shared the path he chose to follow. Concluding his study of alchemical philosophy, Silberer struggled to find a contemporary parallel to the ultimate goal of the work, a mystical union with God and the experience of Divine Love. To Ernst and to many other male surrealists, the highest goal was not a religious experience, but the eternal quest for the ideal woman, in which their human love and desire could merge. Silberer ended his book with a discussion of a seventeenth-century English mystic, Jane Leade.121 Summarizing his theories about alchemical symbolism as well as the ultimate goal of the mystical quest, Silberer stated: Every one seeks his ideal chiefly in the unknown [meaning the unconscious]. It matters not so much what ideal he seeks, but only that he does seek one. Effort itself, not the object of effort, forms the basis of development. No seeker begins his journey with full knowledge of the goal. Only after much circulation in the philosophic egg and only after much passing through the prism of colors does that light dawn which gives us the faint intimation of


the alchemical androgyne the outline of the prototype of all lesser ideals. Whoever desires hope of a successful issue to this progress must not forget a certain gentle fire that must operate from the beginning to the end, namely Love.122 In the introductory essay of the View issue, titled “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst,” Breton punctuated his reminiscences of the artist with seven mystical commandments. As if in agreement with Silberer, he ended his tribute to Ernst with “the seventh and to this day the last commandment,” Love is always before you, love.123 For Ernst, the great loves of his life served as that “certain gentle fire” operating from beginning to end, each in turn sharing and sustaining his alchemical quest.



Little Max’s first contact with painting occurred in 1894 when he saw his father at work on a small water color entitled “Solitude” which represented a hermit sitting in a beech-forest and reading a book. There was a terrifying, quiet atmosphere in this “Solitude” and in the manner it was treated. . . . Even the sound of the word “Hermit” exercised a shuddering magic power on the child’s mind. . . . Max never forgot the enchantment and terror he felt, when a few days later his father conducted him for the first time into the forest. One may find the echo of this feeling in many of Max Ernst’s Forests and Jungles (1925–1942).1

As Above, So Below: The Alchemical Landscapes

T h r o u g h o u t Ernst’s career, landscapes played a prominent role, an unusual emphasis considering the rather marginal position of landscape painting in twentieth-century art as a whole.2 These images had germinated in deep psychological soil, beginning with the two early memories—his response to his father’s watercolor Solitude, and the conflicting emotions of enchantment and terror felt when he and his father first ventured together into the deep forests of Brühl. Four years later, Max’s “second contact with painting” was connected once again to his father and to a landscape. In a painting of their backyard garden, Philipp eliminated a tree that ruined his composition. He then cut down the real tree that had offended him. Little Max was horrified by his father’s authoritarian mastery over nature and decided “to direct himself towards a more equitable conception of the relationship between the subjective and the objective world.” 3 The forest, with its deeply Freudian associations of “enchantment and terror,” acquired new associations when his adolescent romantic adventures charged it with erotic energy. He claimed that the nymph Echo first appeared to him in the forests of Brühl as a disembodied woman like her mythic counterpart.4 He admitted that he never actually saw her, but heard her voice and clearly sensed her presence. For years to come, the Rhenish forest would be a potent symbol of his psychological roots, infused with images of erotic sexual fantasies. Ernst’s forests are sexually ambivalent: “Male in its compo-


as above, so below nents, female in its entity, [the forest] became a private symbol for the night, the unconscious and ‘Mother Nature.’” 5 As a young man, Ernst returned to the forest to sketch from nature (Fig. 7.1). Rejecting the tedious technique of his father, who meticulously reproduced each beech-leaf in his painting of the hermit, Ernst absorbed the stylistic lessons of the post-Impressionist and fauvist painters, as in Landscape

Fig. 7.1. Max Ernst painting near Brühl, 1909, photograph, 11 ⫻ 7.9 cm. Courtesy Jürgen Pech, Max-Ernst-Kabinett, Brühl.


max er nst and alchemy with Sun, 1909 (S/M 10), a work indebted to van Gogh.6 Already in these early paintings, images emerged that would dominate his later landscapes— a dense vertical forest and the horizontally divided picture with the sun placed predominantly in the center. Ernst’s formal experiments continued during his involvement with the Young Rhinelanders movement and for a while after the war as he incorporated the stylistic innovations of cubist, futurist, and expressionist artists. Landscape elements generally are secondary to figural, animal, and architectural details in these early works, such as Hat in Hand, Hat on Head and Immortality (S/M 247, S/M 248).7 In these paintings, white birds descend and rise amid the trees, while in Hat in Hand, a small sun is placed in the upper right corner. These details indicate that the symbolic elements of his mature landscapes had already appeared. Ernst’s wartime imagery reflected the psychological pressures of armed combat, although in abstracted works, such as Flowers and Fish and Vegetation (S/M 262, S/M 263), he continued to depict flora and fauna. Although little remains to gauge the full extent of his thematic development during this period, Ernst once stated: Many of these, lost or destroyed, already contained the germ of his later works (Histoire Naturelle, 1925). A few titles, still remembered, indicate a state of mind: Desire of a plant to cling, Of love in the inanimate world, Descent of animals into the valley at night, A leaf unfolds, and so forth.8 In these works, the seeds of his later landscape imagery continued to develop. After the war, Ernst’s new Dada constructions incorporated further stylistic innovations using the disjunctive mechanism of collage. Photocollages of this period were often situated within a landscape; some were memorials to land that was bombed during the war.9 Other landscapes were more sexually charged. With his “discovery” of the Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog, landscapes overpainted onto full-page plates of plants and their reproductive cycles became the sites of strange apparitions of sexual evolution. Stamens, pistils, bulbs, and blossoms sprouted above and below the horizon in Allways the Best Man Wins and Mobile Herbarium (S/M 342, S/M 343), linked by arcs and pulleys to create an animated mechanical foreplay among the male and female component parts. The vulval and phallic shapes of these plants com-


as above, so below ically replicate human sexual activity, a preoccupation reflecting Ernst’s continuing use of Freudian symbolism, as well as his marriage to Lou and subsequent fatherhood. In these overpaintings, the landscape was defined by the simplest of elements—a horizontal line and distant mountain peaks. Several works, such as Katarina Ondulata and Puberty Approaches (S/M 356, S/M 418), contain small constellations in the sky, created by short lines that connect dots of varying sizes, similar to diagrams found in astronomy books.10 It has been suggested that such references to astronomy and astrology were intended as Dada jokes poking fun at outmoded beliefs,11 although further investigations into these constellations may reveal more intentional applications of astrological lore. The constellations indicate that, like the landscape below, the sky above is activated with symbolic imagery. A few Dada collages, such as The Little Tear Gland That Says Tic Tac (S/M 352),12 forecast the recurring structure of Ernst’s forests of the late 1920s. He created a dense planar composition from a piece of wallpaper and added a mechanical cog as a substitute sun above. Vertical and circular forms contrast with each other in many of his subsequent forest paintings, and these phallic “trees” and the rounded shapes have been interpreted as archetypal male and female symbols. During this same period, Ernst’s first alchemical images appeared. In several works discussed earlier, such as Winter Landscape (Fig. 3.2), Dada Gauguin (Fig. 3.4), and Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Fig. 3.6), the earth and the water reinforce the alchemical meanings of the central image. As with his floral overpaintings, these landscape settings are subsidiary to the central images, namely, the pistons and incubating furnace of the bride in Winter Landscape; the alchemical couple and their son in Dada Gauguin; and the fused androgynous birds in Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It). These alchemical landscapes derive from Silberer’s descriptions of nature found in alchemical texts. For example, the landscape in Dada Gauguin functions symbolically as white seeds buried in the black earth, symbols of the first two stages of the work, nigredo and albedo. Plants form seeds that die and are buried in the ground before the rain and the warmth of the sun cause them to germinate, grow, and eventually produce fruit. Likewise, Primal Matter must be destroyed and buried before watery inundation and gentle heating purify and unite its male and female properties. The four elements— earth, water, fire, and air— unite to form all substances in the material world, while their three characteristic


max er nst and alchemy states—solid, liquid, and gaseous—signify the progressive stages of the work throughout the transformation of Primal Matter.13 Landscape settings are frequently found in alchemical engravings, often accompanied by symbolic figures, animals, and the two central characters, the King and Queen, or the sun and the moon.14 The Analogy of the Alchemical Microcosm to the Macrocosm (Fig. 7.2), first printed in the Opus medico-chymicum: Basilica philosophica of J. D. Mylius (1618), is one of the most elaborate of these symbolic landscapes.15 This engraving equates the heavens above and the earth below, connected by a central cosmic diagram of concentric circles combining the sun and the moon. The top half of this circle represents the sun and is filled with a host of angels and religious symbols of the Christian

Fig. 7.2. Matthäus Merian, Analogy of the Alchemical Microcosm to the Macrocosm, engraving from J. D. Mylius, Opus medico-chymicum: Basilica philosophica (Frankfurt: Lucas Jennis, 1618). Photo: University of Glasgow Library.


as above, so below lamb and dove and Hebrew letters of the name of God. The first inner ring contains the symbols of the zodiac through which the sun travels. This ring continues below, where it is filled with symbols of the remaining five ancient planets. Terms and symbols of the alchemical work fill the inner circles, with a symbol for the Philosopher’s Stone at the center. The widest ring in the circle below includes symbolic alchemical animals, the crow, swan, dragon, pelican, and phoenix, which represent stages of the work, all encased by a darker band symbolizing the night sky and an outer border of moist cool clouds. The alchemist, dressed in the starry robe of the magician, stands centrally below on a small hill, perched on the double lions of Primal Matter. The forest behind him is filled with miniature trees, each one containing a symbol of the planets and metals, as well as symbols signifying important operations of the work. At the outer edges are Apollo and Diana wearing symbols of the sun and the moon. A fiery phoenix by Apollo guards circles representing fire and air, while the feminine eagle by Diana oversees water and the earth. The mountainous landscape in the distance is also divided into day and night. In sum, this emblem is a magnificent illustration of the hermetic wisdom of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.16 Landscape details combine with symbolic figures, animals, and graphic symbols to reveal the secrets of the alchemical work. But despite this rich heritage of landscape imagery, most alchemical engravings of this sort remained in rare texts, and few were reproduced in more popular hermetic literature until Grillot de Givry’s Musée des sorciers (1929).17 Ernst’s first alchemical works derived more from Silberer’s descriptions of the alchemical metaphors of nature than from the images, which became available to him only after his move to Paris. In many transitional works created in Cologne and Paris, Ernst portrayed remote landscapes with distant snow-covered peaks, alpine landscapes inspired less by alchemy than by Baargeld’s enthusiastic mountaineering and by their Dada vacations in the Tyrol. The dramatic glacial background of Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1) symbolized the first meeting of the Cologne and Paris Dadaists in the Tyrolean Alps. Nietzsche had evoked such regions in Thus Spake Zarathustra: “Philosophy, as I have understood it hitherto, is a voluntary retirement into regions of ice and mountain-peaks—the seeking out of everything strange and questionable in existence, everything upon which, hitherto, morality has set its ban.” 18 Despite these many examples, most works of this transitional period contain subdued landscape settings, with


max er nst and alchemy greater emphasis placed on the jarring visual “encounters” of Ernst’s early surrealist imagery.19 Throughout the early years in Paris, alchemical landscapes and cosmic imagery increased. The most alchemical emblematic painting of the early 1920s, Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Fig. 4.4), contains a distant understated landscape setting. Visceral organs placed at the lower center relate to Primal Matter and to the earth from which it derives. As discussed earlier, Ernst duplicated a diagram of eclipse theory (Fig. 4.5) and adapted an alchemical emblem illustrated by Silberer (Fig. 4.6) to form a cosmic alignment between the sun above and the earth below. The horizon is stratified between the dark cosmos and the lighter blue atmosphere surrounding the earth and the various phases of its revolving moon. The sun and the earth are identical, split into blue and black halves and surrounded by a red ring. These mirrored images reinforce the alchemical adage “as above, so below”—that is, the macrocosm and the microcosm are one. When Breton issued the first Surrealist Manifesto, calling for “pure psychic automatism” in writing and painting, Ernst’s techniques evolved through his “discovery” of frottage and grattage. As he transformed the textural patterns of wooden floorboards and other rough surfaces, he returned to images drawn from nature that had lain dormant for several years, including forests, leaves, and flowers. In the frottage series, Histoire naturelle, these motifs coalesced into visions spawned from the mineral, vegetable, and animal worlds, reinvigorating the tradition of natural histories extending back to Pliny.20 Plant growth is determined by the laws of crystalline structure, while insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals spring from primal earth, captured at the moment of metamorphosis. Gala’s eye became The Wheel of Light (S/M 818), while another large eye, found on a floating reptilian-bird-fish in The Escaped (S/M 819), is Max’s own. In System of Solar Money (S/M 820), multiple eyes become globes, microbes, and radiating solar spheres, suggesting an alchemical model of divine creation in which galactic and microscopic forms are one.21 Alchemical allusions can be found in Conjugal Diamonds (S/M 814) and in a related frottage, the Chemical Wedding (Fig. 4.13), in which gestating birds and radiating plants fuse with one another. A quotation from Silberer underscores these alchemical associations: “A very significant and ancient idea in alchemy is that of sprouting and procreation. Metals grow like plants, and reproduce like animals.” 22 In his Histoire naturelle series Ernst revived the flora


as above, so below and fauna motifs of his earliest works, fusing them with alchemical symbolism to an increasing degree. These prints inspired an outpouring of animated botanical and zoological creatures that would populate his works in the second half of the 1920s. The divided picture plane found in several of the Histoire naturelle landscapes also exists in a number of related grattage paintings, such as Sea and Sun (S/M 976). Ernst’s long ocean voyage to Indochina probably inspired this calm, endless vista where, deep beneath the ocean, currents crisscross behind a black circle, a shape echoed above in the larger white sun with a red omniscient eye in its center. The colors of these three details— black, white, and red—signify the three major stages in the alchemical process, nigredo, albedo, and rubedo. Legge suggested some striking visual comparisons between this painting and alchemical engravings,23 one of which depicts the operation of “separatio,” in which fixed and volatile properties of Primal Matter separate to the top and bottom of the vessel. Considering Ernst’s recent departure from the Eluard household, his physical separation from Gala had its alchemical expression in this painting. The eye motif appeared earlier in Histoire naturelle to portray both himself and Gala. Here, Ernst created an equivalency between the rounded sun in the sky and the deep black hole in the depths of the sea, a cosmological resonance above and below the horizon that would be duplicated in many paintings to come. In the Histoire naturelle series, he included ringed suns, both above and below the horizon in The Blink of an Eye (S/M 791) and in other frottages and paintings from 1925, including The Love River and Earthquake (S/M 827, S/M 837). In The Wheel of the Sun (S/M 1011), the sun is ringed and doubled to dip below the horizon line, reminiscent of the concentric circles of the hierarchical cosmologies of Jacob Böhme, as well as the cosmic diagram contained in Mylius’s engraved landscape discussed above (Fig. 7.2). The deep blacks below the horizon contain colorful petroglyphs suggesting that primordial life is stirring deep within the earth. Air currents swirl around this vision, while the warm orange circle contrasts the fiery heat of the sun with the cooler cream color of the moon. Often the centers of these ringed forms were darkened, as they would be in an eclipse. Others have light centers, as if the roles of the sun and the moon were reversed. Because Ernst often chose eclipse imagery as his source illustrations for works such as the Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1), Men


max er nst and alchemy Shall Know Nothing of This (Figs. 4.4, 4.5), and, later, a collage from the chapter “Vendredi” in Une Semaine de bonté,24 these numerous ringed suns hovering in his landscapes of the mid-1920s can be identified as eclipses. While Ernst used the hermetic aspects of these natural conjunctions, his curiosity also may have been sparked by contemporary scientific discoveries about corona shapes, helium flares, and sunspots. A well-publicized total eclipse of May 29, 1919, turned into the centerpiece of a lively discussion on the proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity.25 Visible in Peru, Brazil, and central Africa, this eclipse lasted almost seven minutes and was photographed and publicized widely (Fig. 7.3). Another lengthy eclipse of more than four minutes on January 24, 1926, could be seen in East Africa, Sumatra, and the Philippines. French

Fig. 7.3. Anonymous, Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919, photograph reproduced from S. A. Mitchell, Eclipses of the Sun, 2d ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1924), opp. 394.


as above, so below newspaper coverage of these total solar eclipses occurring over the dense remote jungles may have played a role in fixing the eclipse as a persistent feature in Ernst’s alchemical landscapes. Around this time, the theme of the forest returns, although it had never entirely disappeared from his work since its first appearance in the impressionistic sketches of his youth. In his many frottages, he transformed woodgrain patterns into the dense planes of vertical trees. These same forest images appeared when he adapted his frottage technique to the roughly rubbed and scratched painting techniques of grattage. In Silberer’s alchemical legend, the wanderer began his travels in a forest, a journey explained in psychoanalytic terms as a signal for entry into “a life of fantasy, the entrance into the theater of dream.” 26 The forest is the symbol of the unconscious, site of the repression and fear that must be faced and overcome in order to obtain a new centered equilibrium of the soul.27 Roughly coinciding with his first return to Germany after moving to Paris, Ernst’s forests of the late 1920s are seductive, evocative, and impenetrable, teeming with animals hidden in the underbrush and permeated with the decay and regenerative life of nature in the process of evolution. Many of these forests are dominated by ringed eclipses, which join the forest to an image of archetypal conjunction, such as The Great Forest of 1927 (Fig. 7.4). Helmut Leppien gave a vivid description of this painting and its powerful compositional strategies, as falling diagonals contrast to the stark verticals to underscore the constant decomposition and regeneration of nature.28 Oppositions play throughout as the dense and exuberant undergrowth becomes the site of spawning wild animals and human beings, whose descendants, the Hordes, finally break free into paintings of their own. In spite of the gloomy, dark, overcast surface, the painted layers beneath, revealed by the grattage scraping, are vividly colored. Light and dark reversals throughout the work strengthen these oppositional tensions. In a related grattage painting, Vision Provoked by the Nocturnal Aspect of the Porte Saint-Denis (S/M 1177), the circular sun embedded within the forest serves as a home for a family of birds. As with the bird-family paintings of this same period, the circle became the transparent alembic vessel in which the gestation of the birds could be observed. Ernst later stated that birds were his symbols of absolute freedom because they were not subject to the laws of gravity.29 In alchemical emblems, any winged animal or human being is a symbol of the volatile opera-


max er nst and alchemy tions of the work. Here the free and volatile bird was encased within the fixity of the forest. Placed above, behind, and within his seascapes and forests, Ernst’s painted eclipses superimpose the sun and the moon in perfect union, the natural equivalent of the alchemical Androgyne. In his automatic text, “Soluble Fish,” Breton used the image of an eclipse as an analogy to his meeting a woman on the street: “Take this smoked glass which is my hand in your hands, behold the eclipse.” 30 Likewise, Ernst often duplicated the conjunction of the sun and the moon above with an earthly mating of cavorting birds, insects, and animals, such as the frolicking stallion and mare dancing on a rocky promon-

Fig. 7.4. Max Ernst, The Great Forest (La Grande Forêt), 1927, oil on canvas, 114.5 ⫻ 146.5 cm (S/M 1173). Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kunstmuseum. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


as above, so below

Fig. 7.5. Max Ernst, The Bride of the Wind, 1927, oil on canvas, 81 ⫻ 100 cm (S/M 1098). Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

tory in the painting The Bride of the Wind, 1927 (Fig. 7.5).31 The sun and the moon come together in the heavens while the animals below make love. In The Carmagnole of Love (S/M 1078), Ernst placed a ringed sun behind an embracing couple, equating the solar-lunar fusion to a human sexuality, and one with personal implications. Although the man’s face is abstracted, the woman bears a resemblance to Gala Eluard. What should be a dance of love and freedom becomes the entangled web of a troubled former liaison. When Marie-Berthe entered his life, Ernst created another forest painting, titled Max Ernst Shows to a Young Girl the Head of Her Father (S/M 1169), a work symbolically depicting the decapitation of her father as punishment for


max er nst and alchemy the furor he had raised in opposition to their relationship. Mr. Aurenche has been guillotined, a comic reference to the family’s distant claim to the French throne. The faces of Max and Marie-Berthe are abstracted to simple lines, while in the sky, an eclipse signals the enduring power of their sexual union over her father’s futile protests. Throughout this phase of Ernst’s career, the shell-flowers and leaf-creatures represent Marie-Berthe and the youth and renewal she inspired in his work. As their relationship deteriorated, plants became claustrophobic mazes of entrapment seen in the garden airplane-trap paintings. Technically, these works record yet another transformation, as the grattage techniques of the shell-flowers evolved into the more representational painting of the garden mazes and labyrinths of the early 1930s. In 1934, Ernst published a short essay in Minotaure titled “The Mysteries of the Forest” in which he contrasted two types of forests as an analogy for two types of women.32 The virtuous and rigid forest is a disguise for the increasingly conservative Marie-Berthe, while Ernst’s description of the untamed forest and volcanic landscape reflects his desire for women filled with sexual energy, enthusiasm, and spontaneity. This essay forecast yet another transformation in Ernst’s landscapes to dense jungles filled with insects and reptiles, reminiscent of the exotic landscapes he had visited in Indochina a decade earlier.33 Ernst’s jungle imagery paralleled that of several contemporary articles in Minotaure by other surrealists who recorded their fascination with exotic plants, animals, and carnivorous insects, especially the ravenous female praying mantis, which supposedly kills its mate after copulation. While this gruesome behavior occurs only in captivity, the surrealists could observe the deadly courtship rituals in their insect aquariums.34 Roger Caillois compiled several myths and legends about this insect from throughout the world and drew comparisons to psychoanalytic theories, specifically Freud’s castration complex and the male fear of the vagina dentata.35 In another essay, Caillois discussed the ability of certain insects to perfectly mimic their environments. He compared this “magical power” to the clinical works and theories of Pierre Janet about neurasthenic patients who suffered from psychotic disruptions of spatial concepts that made them incapable of distinguishing the boundaries between themselves and their environments.36 He also cited Gustave Flaubert’s discussion of the Temptation of St. Anthony, describing his physical tortures as hallucinations of a type of psychiatric mimesis. The hermit could not distinguish plants from animals; he confused plants with


as above, so below stones, pebbles with the brain, stalactites with breasts, and iron crystals with tapestries ornamented with figures. The saint’s visual transformations affected all three realms of the natural world—mineral, vegetable, and animal— transforming one into another. The hellish descent of the neurasthenic patient was a psychoanalytic process that, depending on the individual, could result in a reintegration of the original sensibility and the prenatal unconscious. Caillois compared these visual hallucinations to popular Slovakian decoration and the early paintings of Dalí, but he might just as well have been discussing the forests and jungles of Max Ernst. In the jungles of 1936 –1937, including several versions of The Nymph Echo and Nature at Dawn,37 Ernst restored a surprising degree of linear control, distantly related to that of the landscapes of Henri Rousseau. Deep within the undergrowth of the forest floor, contrasting to the careful contours of the dark green leaves, are luscious pinks, blues, and magentas that miraculously transform into delicate tropical flowers, bursting from their pods in foamy effusions. Lizards, snakes, and insects stalk and slither through the interior darkness, camouflaged by eons of evolutionary time to perfectly mimic their leafy environments. (Recall that in alchemical emblems, green reptilian animals, including snakes, frogs, and dragons, are symbols for Primal Matter.) In each of these primordial settings, large bird-headed creatures with human hands peer out from the foliage to engage the eye of the viewer. Slowly, the eye travels beyond this aviary king of the forest, penetrating the overgrown maze to seek and discover its hidden treasure, a small, pale green nude woman, also perfectly camouflaged beside the curvilinear leaves—the nymph Echo. At the end of his essay “Au delà de la peinture,” Ernst included a short section titled “Instantaneous Identity” in which he discussed the polarities of his personality so full of apparent contradictions.38 He related these qualities as if they were observed by women who found him charming and distinguished but at the same time a difficult and complex character. . . . (“he is a nest of contradictions,” they say) transparent and at the same time full of enigmas, a little like the pampas. It is difficult for them to reconcile the sweetness and moderation of his expressions with the calm violence that is the essence of his thought. . . . Concerning “nature” for example, one can observe in him two apparently irreconcilable attitudes: that of the god Pan and the man Papou who possess all of her mysteries and playfully


max er nst and alchemy achieve union with her (“he marries nature,” “he runs after the nymph Echo,” they say) and that of a conscious and organized Prometheus, thief of fire, who, guided by thought, pursues her with an implacable hatred and grossly insults her. “This monster is pleased only by the antipodes of the landscape,” they say again. And a teasing little girl adds: “He is a brain and a vegetable at the same time.” 39 Ernst combined references to the god Pan, the priapic wood sprite and follower of Dionysius, with a native of the Papuan Gulf in New Guinea to symbolize a man in perfect harmony with the natural world.40 Prometheus is his antithesis, a mortal who by stealing fire challenges the gods’ domain over the earth and thus inflicts their wrath on the natural world. Ernst concluded his essay by explaining that these two opposing attitudes of his personality could be convulsively fused by an electric exchange of energy resulting from his creative vision. “This exchange, whether it occurs as a calm, continuous current or all at once, with lightning and thunder,” would be the equivalent of his true “identity.” 41 The discovery of his identity was thus a psychological process similar to alchemical operations. The opposing forces of the psyche could be fused through a cathartic process, which, for Ernst, was centered in the creative energy of his artistic vision. Concurrently, Breton published several essays recounting his courtship and romance with Jacqueline Lamba. He evoked a vision of wild and untamed vegetation, offering as an example of “fixed-explosive” beauty “a speeding locomotive abandoned for years to the delirium of a virgin forest.” 42 He compared the crystalline growth formations of minerals to prickly hawthorn bouquets, and imagined coral reintegrated “as it should be in life, in the glittering reflection of the sea.” Life, “in the constancy of its processes of formation and destruction,” was perfectly captured for the human eye by the “blue titmice of aragonite and the treasure bridge of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef,” a poetic vision accompanied by photographs of crystals and coral. In 1936, Minotaure published a photograph of Lamba leaning out of a window overgrown with vegetation within a ruined building with grass growing on its roof. Without explanation, Lamba’s photograph is opposite an article by Pierre Mabille, illustrated with alchemical emblems.43 Like Ernst, Breton represented nature’s exuberant growth as a reflection of his happiness in love. He also drew a contrasting and destructive analogy using a scene from the Marquis de Sade’s New Justine, in which the


as above, so below eruption of Mount Etna prompts the hero Jerome to conspire with the chemist Almani. Almani was “trait for trait” opposed to the “lover of Nature” and operated instead as its executioner, “who finds such pleasure to mix his sperm with the flow of burning lava.” 44 The violence of nature causes its own most destructive cataclysms, and Breton drew this parallel as nature became a macrocosmic reflection of his own process of loving, both gentle and destructive. These comparisons between nature and human love, between nature’s abundant fruitfulness and its destructive power, recall alchemical descriptions of nature’s regenerative processes and the separation and reconciliation of the King and Queen. Breton’s essays were laced with references to alchemy, as in “The Night of the Sunflower,” where he combined night and day in the title, fusing the time of the moon with a flower of the sun. The word tournesol carries multiple alchemical references, to the sun (sol in Latin), to the earth (sol in French), and to chemistry, where it is the name of an agent used in litmus tests.45 In certain alchemical illustrations, blooming sunflower trees signify the production of gold (see Fig. 6.1). After meeting each other, Breton and Lamba began a walk through the Paris night within the alchemical quarter of Paris, passing the Tour Saint Jacques, another play on the word tournesol,46 and the former site of Flamel’s Cemetery of the Innocents, which at one time contained his famous alchemical hieroglyphs. The entire essay recounted the “magical-circumstantial” coincidences surrounding their first meeting in 1934 and Breton’s amazing precognition of that night in a poem he had written eleven years earlier, in 1923. In the essay that follows, “The Starry Castle,” Breton credited Ernst’s garden airplane-trap paintings as having this same magical power of prophecy. He saw them two months before he and Lamba visited the Canary Islands. There they saw kite birds flying over a terraced landscape filled with retama plants whose flowers were sheltered within its polygonal angles, a scene that duplicated perfectly the images found in Ernst’s paintings.47 His frottages of plants and animals illustrated this essay. A final image of an austere house above a chasm with a crystalline form in the sky (S/M 2246) illustrated the phrase: “On the side of the abyss, made of the philosopher’s stone, the starry castle opens.” 48 The alchemical references in Breton’s essays and in Ernst’s imagery underscore the connections between nature, human love, and alchemical symbolism. Breton expanded his definition of “convulsive beauty” to include the “veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive and magic-circumstantial.” 49 These terms can


max er nst and alchemy be compared to the alchemical work, with its secretive sexual nature, with its constant fluctuations of volatile and fixed properties within the alembic vessel, and with its magical coincidences, such as Flamel’s discovery of the manuscript of Abraham the Jew. Breton’s description of a speeding train covered by overgrown vegetation exemplified perfectly this fixed-explosive beauty. The photograph that inspired his analogy was reproduced later by Benjamin Péret in an article filled with alchemical references.50 Péret described the evolutionary jungle of South America in alchemical terms: There where Genesis has not yet said its last word, there where the earth separates from the water only to beget the fire in the air, on earth or in the water, but above all, there where earth and water, terrified by the celestial fire, make love day and night. . . .51 The separation and coagulation of the four elements create a sexual turbulence where the earth and the water make love, permeated by the rich evocative imagery of the jungle, where nature is both forgiving and relentless. When Leonora Carrington entered Ernst’s life, like Lamba for Breton, she strolled gracefully into his jungle environments. In Leonora in the Morning Light (S/M 2358), Carrington assumes more prominence than her nude archetypal sister, the nymph Echo, while male creatures, a horned minotaur and lizards, retreat to the background. With her right hand she holds a phallic pod of bursting seeds, and her flowing hair sprouts tendrils reaching to the vine above as if to ground and stabilize her as the voracious vegetation begins a process of metamorphosis. After they moved to Saint-Martin d’Ardèche, Ernst’s landscapes again responded to the richly evocative landscape around them. Although summer vacations often had inspired natural themes in his work, now, for the first time since moving to Paris, he was living again in the countryside, where feathery cypress trees and spiky succulents grew in profusion. Clear, cool rivers cut striated patterns into arid canyon walls, and deep caves sheltered the eternal growth of stalactites and stalagmites.52 His decalcomania technique produced a liquid fusion of color, provoking visions of animated phantoms that he brought to life by clarifying details to create interior forms. This technique was particularly suited to evocative poetic landscapes in which apparitions of young women appeared among luxuriant vegetation and crystalline fossils.53


as above, so below Work on these paintings was interrupted by the approaching war and Ernst’s series of incarcerations, and as a result his landscapes often bear the scars of this troubled time. The unchecked growth and sexual exuberance of the forests and jungles shifted into scenes scarred by blight and putrefying decay, illuminated by the unforgiving light of midday. Concurrent with the beginnings of the Second World War, these paintings seemed to forecast the disintegration of Western civilization and to predict a total annihilation of European culture. In May 1939, just months before the invasion of Poland, Péret wrote an essay describing the haunting power of ruins as a metaphor of the political disintegration of Europe.54 He included photographs of ruined castles in France, Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia, and the Cox grottoes in England, a prehistoric cavern whose stalactites look like the fossils of ruined castles. In the essay, an artist enters this landscape to find wildly growing vegetation, rapacious birds, and a tiger changing into a wolf and then shedding its skin to transform further into a dog. In anticipation of the imminent destruction facing Europe, he ponders which ruins of the existing civilization will remain to be exalted by the poet of another era. Neither churches nor prisons nor banks, and especially not Versailles, a structure vacant of phantoms and the decadent product of a degenerate feudal society, would evoke the same power as the ruined castles of the Middle Ages. Péret also included Raoul Ubac’s technically altered photographs of Parisian buildings, including the Bourse, Garnier’s Opera, and the Eiffel Tower. He imagines these structures emerging like fossilized specters, abandoned and overgrown with flowers and vegetation; he closes with the phrase: “What a beautiful spring, the Opera is flowering as never before!” Likewise, Ernst’s decalcomania paintings of the early 1940s appeared as the disintegrating remains of former civilizations, signaling the return of a new alchemical cycle, when Primal Matter is destroyed and putrefaction begins again. In several of these works, such as Europe after the Rain (S/M 2395), finished after Carrington’s departure, a woman runs away from a bird-headed creature. Other mythic women remain, found in the lower left corner and middle right of the painting, like Rhine maidens bogged down in the earth’s primal muck. In Totem and Taboo (S/M 2383), a predatory bird with Ernst’s own features, wearing a flamboyant helmet, perches atop a totemic phallic pole in the upper left corner. Here the nymph Echo is a buxom nude, peeking out from a fallen


max er nst and alchemy log with long-billed birds by her side in the lower center. In his book Totem and Taboo,55 Freud discussed animism, a belief that everything in nature is a living presence, a worldview with some similarities to the pantheistic philosophy of Schelling. Freud explained that sorcery and magic were often used as a means of gaining control over the omnipresent spiritual entities. Throughout Ernst’s forests and jungles, and even his shell-shocked landscapes, sexual activity is visible in the details of these paintings, as if sexual intercourse occurs as an imitative magic to ensure nature’s survival and renewal. Once safely in New York, Ernst completed many of these unfinished canvases, which had been brought to him there by Carrington. He also began a new series of paintings in which geometric rectilinear forms imposed a greater order and structure on the picture plane. Perhaps it was the contrast of the safety of New York with the terrifying insecurities of Europe that contributed to the dramatic reversals in Day and Night (S/M 2443). The painting is divided into areas of light and dark by picture frames placed throughout the landscape with different perspectival viewpoints to capture glimpses of its phallic trees and dense underbrush. Within these frames, bright daylight enlivens the colors, while the surrounding areas remain dark and mysterious, as if the two areas are illuminated alternately by the sun and the moon. Such divisions into light and dark can be compared to the alchemical landscape engraving discussed above (Fig. 7.2), in which the realm of Apollo is illuminated by the sun, while the realm of Diana is dark and permeated only by moonlight. By 1943, Ernst tightened his grid and expanded it to the edges of the canvas in Painting for Young People and Vox Angelica (S/M 2447, S/M 2448). Both paintings were divided into perfectly balanced rectilinear forms, arranged into an encyclopedic catalog of his various painting techniques, an intensely personal statement of his past and present. In Painting for Young People, the upper left corner is a realistically painted image of a fog descending on a river. The river continues to flow into the next panel, where it cuts through a brilliant red and orange canyon whose inhospitable banks are strewn with parched bones. Two panels beneath hold primordial forests. In the central panel, a lightning storm rages over rotting fallen trees, while an oversized vine bursts forth with new life. To the right a silent charred forest is overseen by a blazing orange sun. Vox Angelica has an even more densely organized grid that frames the stylistic evolution of Ernst’s landscapes from the beginning of his career. Vox


as above, so below Angelica’s geometric construction and its many references to Ernst’s personal memories have sparked a comparison to Rosicrucian and Masonic mnemonic constructions of charts and tracing-boards with their gridlike arrangements.56 Silberer summarized the connections between the alchemical tradition and the Rosicrucian movement, which had adopted many of alchemy’s central tenets and symbols. As David Hopkins explained, its founding text by Johann Valentin Andreae, The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, suggested that in the utopian state of Christianopolis, young people will be educated by looking at paintings of animals, plants, and geological structures, similar to the images gathered in the versions of Painting for Young People and Vox Angelica. In Vox Angelica, Ernst’s vision stretched from the depths of the earth to the furthest reaches of the cosmos, where constellations float in front of blurry rotating galaxies. Dividing panels of illusionistic wood grain recall the summer in 1925 when he “invented” frottage after staring at the heavily grained floorboards in his hotel at Pornic in Brittany. Geometric instruments, compasses, and protractors from the Dada period acquire human sexual characteristics and are used to spell out the name “Max” in the lower right corner. The dense forests of the 1920s, the verdant jungles of the 1930s, and the spongy cypress savannas of the early 1940s meet on a single plane. Within the smaller divisions are memories of his travels, including an Asian pagoda, the Eiffel Tower, and the Empire State Building. Strangely enough, given that Ernst was living in the middle of Manhattan, nothing of the city can be found except for this latter small detail. Geometric constructions of two horizontal panels below mimic the red and orange geological striations of the land and the deep blue-green currents of the sea. Down the central axis of the painting, behind two cagelike balconies, a serpent coils up a tree of knowledge, while in the second panel above, as the sky darkens, the serpent is joined by a small bird and a female nude, coiffed with a 1940s hairdo. Medium-sized panels are painted with the brilliant primaries of red, blue, and yellow. These colors and the overall grid pattern are a tribute to the works of Mondrian, whose own grid paintings, such as Broadway Boogie Woogie, also transformed in response to New York’s electric energy and rectilinear design. Although Ernst and Mondrian were stylistically poles apart, they admired each other’s work and were in contact with each other within the circle of exiled European artists. In Vox Angelica, Ernst displayed the remarkable technical range of his painting styles of the past, and also included a new automatic dripping technique, visible in a blue panel in the upper right center.


max er nst and alchemy The crisscrossing black lines were created by punching a hole in the bottom of a paint can and then swinging the can over canvas placed on the floor, a technique also incorporated in The Bewildered Planet (S/M 2426). Despite this newest experiment with abstracted imagery, it remained subsidiary to his overall vision and only one point on a continuum from the illusionism of trompe l’oeil to pure color-field painting. His outrage over the bombing and destruction of the Rhineland by Allied bombers inspired a number of paintings in the 1940s and early 1950s that paid tribute to the Rhenish masters he had so admired in Cologne as a young man.57 In Rhenish Night (S/M 2460), the image of the forest reappeared, with tall trees that shelter a flock of birds hiding in terror amid the charred remains of a lush wilderness. Ernst’s Temptation of St. Anthony (S/M 2487) was a powerful work of this type, although its theme had been assigned as part of the competition for Albert Lewin’s film The Private Life of Bel Ami.58 The traditional temptation of St. Anthony theme had hermetic associations, discussed by Fulcanelli and illustrated by Grillot de Givry as an example of demonic possession.59 Ernst’s saint, dressed in a brilliant red cassock, is tortured by the pincers of terrifying horned and crustaceous creatures, spawned from some nightmarish bestiary. In the middle ground, behind the deep icy waters of a phosphorescent mountain lake, a pale green nude woman is entwined in a vine connecting her to a large rocky tower that wears a strangely animated bird mask. Perched on a thin pedestal on the right, another nude woman, descended from the Olympic visions of Max Klinger, stretches out her hands, illuminated from below by a magical light. Golden sulphurous clouds rest over distant mountains, recalling the blue-green vistas of Northern Renaissance landscapes. With the prize money from the competition, Ernst was able to purchase land in Arizona, an area he had first visited in 1941, when he, Peggy, and their children, Jimmy and Pegeen, drove through the American Southwest. Jimmy remembered his father’s reaction to the landscape when they stopped to look at a rattlesnake on the road. Suddenly Max stiffened, awestruck by the land, realizing he was looking at his own landscapes—images, such as The Entire Town (S/M 2220), that he had been painting for several years before coming to America.60 It was on this first trip that he bought his famous collection of kachina dolls at a tourist trading post in the Grand Canyon for five to seven dollars each. Later, he and Tanning would spend several summers in Arizona before moving there in 1946. Visiting the eroded towers of Bryce Canyon,


as above, so below the mesas of Monument Valley, and the majestic rock formations near Sedona, he found the landscape of his imagination. As always, the resulting paintings were infused with motifs and compositional elements of the past. His portrayals of the southwest continued in the tradition of the western landscape established by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, capturing the majestic power of the mountain peaks and mesas and the timeless geological records of the deeply stratified canyons. He activated his entire repertory of techniques, continuing an expertly controlled decalcomania while transforming his camouflaged animals into the archaic reptilian creatures of the high desert. Their land in Sedona was spectacularly beautiful, but also far from the comforts of civilization, and perhaps at no other time in his life was the surrounding landscape such an insistent presence. Tanning portrayed these vast uninhabited spaces and contrasted the insignificance of a human presence in her Self Portrait.61 With utter authority, nature established a dominance over the rhythms of their daily life. Performing the simplest of daily tasks, like carrying water to the house, involved incredible hardships. At first, there was no electricity. Nightfall descended rapidly, illuminating the sky with the moon’s rapid cycle and a million stars. The days brought a sunlight so intense and a heat so oppressive that the landscape seemed to evaporate, and they often sought refuge in the cool streams of Oak Creek Canyon. Not surprisingly, the sun and the moon appeared prominently in Ernst’s Arizona landscapes, while the animals beneath the earth were spawned from the desert—gila monsters, lizards, and toads—similar to the animals hidden in the depths of Time and Duration (S/M 2572). A spiraling sun-moon reigns over this painting, while deep within the earth additional spirals form the faces of two subterranean animals. These symbols echo the forms of Native American petroglyphs found on the walls of nearby canyons. The endless continuity of the cycle of nature is a mystery shared and revered by the Indian tribes who were their new neighbors.62 Other paintings, such as The Phases of the Night (S/M 2507), structure the Arizona landscape within a geometric framework that reveals Ernst’s continuing interest in mathematics.63 During a visit to Nevada in the summer of 1946, Ernst began a series of small paintings called Microbes (Fig. 7.6).64 His sister Loni remembered her excitement at receiving the first shipment of these tiny paintings in the mail, and recognized that they were “not microbes, but microcosms.” 65 With simple washes and puddled pigment, Ernst created tiny views of the land, verification that the smallest part of the universe is reflective of the whole. In


max er nst and alchemy these small paintings, a microcosmic view of the world paralleled the macrocosmic—a new simplicity of vision forecasting his more purely abstract landscapes of the 1960s. Color returned to these paintings with unprecedented brilliance, as if the indefatigable sun of the American desert had illuminated natural colors within the sands and rocky canyons even more brilliant than those already in his palette. Although the Microbes are generally more abstracted than Ernst’s larger landscapes, they formed an encyclopedic catalog of his landscape imagery, including scenes of the earth, rain, the sky, and the tumultuous eruptions of volcanic peaks, visualizations of nature’s constant alchemical transformations of earth, water, air, and fire.66 In many of these small landscapes, Ernst

Fig. 7.6. Max Ernst, “Mite-size Art,” Life 32 (January 21, 1952): 58–59. © 1952 Time Inc. Reprinted by permission. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


as above, so below stressed the calm horizon between the earth and sky, while in others, circular forms return, reminiscent of earlier eclipse imagery. For example, a small vertical painting in the middle of the right-hand page, with the hermetic title Lull, may represent a lull in a storm, but the title more likely refers to the Catalan mystic Ramón Lull. On the same trip in 1946 when Ernst created his first Microbes, he and Tanning took a raft trip down the Colorado River, causing some consternation when they arrived several days late at the take-out point.67 Memories of these canyons and the meandering flow of the river were captured several years later in Colorado, the Medusa (S/M 3009), a comic comparison between their adventures on a lost raft and Géricault’s famous painting. Within Inspired Hill (S/M 2857), the red volcanic earth glows deep beneath the surface to reveal at the lower left a rounded shape of glowing yellow that reflects the sun above. Even after Ernst and Tanning returned to Europe, they visited Arizona for several winters, each time exploring the west by different routes,68 and Ernst continued to paint images of the southwest well into the mid-1950s. Ernst and Tanning first visited Paris again in 1949, where he was reunited with many of his old friends, including Hans Arp and Paul Eluard.69 When they moved back permanently to France in 1953, Ernst took his first trip back to Germany—a reentry into the landscape of his childhood that sparked strong feelings.70 The reality of seeing Cologne, just beginning to rebuild after almost complete destruction in the war, inspired the landscape Old Man River (Vater Rhein, S/M 3007).71 Like Vox Angelica, this painting was a tribute to two countries, America and Germany, fusing Ernst’s past and present, the memory of the river and its landscape as they used to be, to a self-portrait composed of a head filled with small birds and fish. The Rhine had symbolized German national power in the Wilhelmian period, but Ernst set politics aside to reclaim the river, restored to its magical powers and forming, through its flow, the profile of the artist himself. Ernst remained active in surrealism for several years after the war— regularly participating in all its major exhibitions and publications—though perhaps not as intensely as in earlier years.72 In 1954, however, his acceptance of the Venice Biennale prize brought final censure and estrangement from the Paris group.73 The prize for sculpture was awarded to his old friend Hans Arp. To receive this first major international award, Ernst traveled to Venice, where a comic error prevented him from actually accepting the prize in


max er nst and alchemy person. A guard who did not recognize him refused to admit him to the ceremonies when he could not produce his letter of award. Unperturbed, he and Tanning went to a church to look at Tintoretto paintings instead.74 The prize money enabled them to buy land again, and in 1955 they settled in Huismes near Chinon in the Touraine. This move began another productive period, as Ernst continued to produce graphic works and illustrations for the writings of his friends and favorite authors.75 Often before, his landscape paintings had predicted images he would encounter in the future. This time, a strange coincidence brought him full circle to images of the past. One day, wandering about in the nearby flea market, he happened upon rolls of the same wallpaper that he had used to create some of his earliest Dada collages. In Dada Sun, Dada Forest (S/M 3215, 3216), he duplicated the forest image of The Little Tear Gland That Says Tic Tac (S/M 352), replacing the wheel of that collage with a ringed circle, like the many eclipses of his forest landscapes. He also worked on a series of portraits, continuing to develop the geometric faces of his figural studies from the mid-1940s. Several of these portraits depicted hermetic figures, including The Dark Gods (1957) (S/M 3220) and Albert the Great (1957) (S/M 3224). Like Cornelius Agrippa, Ernst had claimed Albert the Great as a mythic forefather from his native Cologne.76 Ernst’s portrait of Albert is an abstracted vision in which the alchemist’s head is rendered as a simplified triangle emerging from a crystalline environment of red paint. This triangular shape recalls the central face in Basil Valentine’s emblem (Fig. 2.2), a small diagram filled with alchemical symbols reflecting the truism that the hermetic philosopher can attain cosmic union.77 Critical recognition of Ernst’s achievements grew throughout the 1950s, following his first retrospective in Brühl in 1951. Authors paying tribute to Ernst continued to describe his works in alchemical terms. Alain Bosquet had stated that the bird paintings of the late 1920s revealed Ernst’s search for “an alchemical formula where the great perturbations of the conscious and the unconscious are reconciled.” 78 Jacques Dupin praised the sustaining aspects of his works, in which the theories and technical preparations that went into his paintings “return to find themselves again unchanged upon leaving the alembic.” 79 Both authors praised his ability to balance his new textural experiments with an intellectual and philosophical depth tempered by a joyful playfulness, unlike so many artists who were devoting themselves exclusively to the techniques of tachism.


as above, so below As a tribute to his new home, the Touraine, Ernst painted one of his greatest hermetic works, The Garden of France (Fig. 7.7), in which a nude woman’s body is buried beneath an island between the Loire and Indre rivers. The title of this painting takes its name from the Touraine, known for its abundant agricultural production. The woman’s body is entwined with a huge snake, reminiscent of Franz von Stuck’s erotically seductive images of Eve at the turn of the century but actually borrowed directly from Cabanel’s Birth of Venus. In the upper left corner, within a cross section beneath the earth, there is a long phallic shape extending toward an egg. This fertile regeneration of nature is a detail derived from his earlier spermatozoan images of the blind swimmer.80 Ernst also adapted an alchemical source, namely an engraving of a woman buried in the earth with a dragon encircling her body, which had been used

Fig. 7.7. Max Ernst, The Garden of France, 1962, oil on canvas, 114 ⫻ 168 cm (S/M 3614). Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


max er nst and alchemy to illustrate an article by Kurt Seligmann (Fig. 7.8).81 The image relates to the legend of St. Marcel, the Christian tale of a saint’s battle with an evil dragon that invades a woman’s coffin and defiles her dead body. The myth was discussed by both Fulcanelli and Grillot de Givry, who considered images derived from this myth, such as the sculpture of St. Marcel on Notre Dame Cathedral (Fig. 2.2), to be representations of the destruction of Primal Matter during the first stage of putrefaction.82 The dragon and snake are interchangeable as symbols of Primal Matter, which must be destroyed before the feminine properties of Philosophic Mercury can be released. The symbolic detail of fertilization at the upper left corner of The Garden of France provokes the question of Ernst’s gendering of the landscape through-

Fig. 7.8. Matthäus Merian, Putrefaction Glorified, from Michael Maier, Atalanta fugiens (Oppenheim: Johann Theodor de Bry, 1618). Courtesy of Glasgow University Library, Department of Special Collections.


as above, so below out his career. In his landscapes the earth is sexually charged with playful androgynous characters. Male and female legs are fused in the sky, male and female birds inhabit the air, fish encircle each other in the sea, and earth-bound animals of both sexes fuse in the dense undergrowth of the forest. Sexuality is universal, but the land, the sea, and the air are not strictly gendered as the sole environment of one sex or the other. Rather, the sexual activity of these creatures underscores nature’s cycle of death and rebirth, often overseen by an eclipse of the sun or the moon. Perhaps in response to the launching of the first earth satellites in the late 1950s and the beginnings of the space race, Ernst was inspired throughout the 1960s to explore the relationship between the earth and the cosmos. In his book Maximiliana, or The Illegal Practice of Astronomy (1964), he paid tribute to the amateur astronomer and lithographer Wilhelm Tempel (1821–1889), who in 1861 discovered the “planet” (actually an asteroid) Maximiliana, whose name had obvious associations for the artist.83 During Tempel’s lifetime, his astronomical work never received proper recognition, and Ernst, who in his early seventies was just beginning to have large retrospectives in New York and Paris, felt some personal affinity with the astronomer. The book was a collaborative effort between Ernst and the graphic designer Iliazd, who duplicated enlargements of Ernst’s cipher writings and small illustrations in differing scales as a key motif to indicate points of microcosmic-macrocosmic correspondence.84 In many of Ernst’s later paintings, the horizontal division of the earth and sky and the inclusion of large rounded suns and moons above recall his earlier landscapes. In his Journal d’un astronaute millenaire, one of several collages titled Laugh of the Poet reflects this dualism of the sky and the earth.85 In the collage, God the Father is inscribed in a circle above, slicing the die of the visible world into two equal parts, as he had divided light and darkness. Below is a horizontal box tied with a fancy interwoven ribbon that represents the earth. This formulation of microcosmic-macrocosmic alignment also harks back to the emblem reproduced by Silberer (Fig. 4.6) in which the Primal Matter of the earth is represented by a cube below in the landscape in contrast to the circular celestial forms of the sun and moon above, another indication that Ernst was returning to his emblematic and abstracted imagery of the 1920s. Ernst’s abstracted landscapes of the 1960s and early 1970s make similar correlations between heaven and earth.86 In the Marriage of Heaven and Earth


max er nst and alchemy (Fig. 7.9), the canvas is divided into subtle horizontal striations with an eclipse shimmering above. Based on solar-lunar conjunctions, this image unites the sun and the earth. With the marriage of Heaven and Earth, the macrocosm above and the microcosm below are joined together in sexual fusion.87 Ernst transformed a traditional image of alchemical conjunction into a new abstracted vision of hermetic balance, bringing the components of his painting together to create a cosmic Androgyne, a perfect equilibrium of opposing forces. In these landscapes, alchemical numerology plays a significant role. The cyclic unity of the alchemical work is represented by the ringed sun. Duality is reflected by the oppositions within these works—sun/moon, light/dark, above/below, male/female. The picture plane is divided in two, symbolizing the duality of the cosmos above and below, a resonance between the macrocosm of the sky and the microcosm of the earth. The trinity of body, mind, and spirit find their equivalents on the physical plane with the textural materiality of the paint, on the intellectual plane with its inherent alchemical philosophy, and on the spiritual plane with an inexplicable transcendence, as with any truly great work of art. The rectangle often found below, with its four sides, represents the earth, or Primal Matter, composed of the four elements, earth, water, fire, and air, represented by landscape, the sea, volcanoes, and the sky. One of alchemy’s central axioms is “solve and coagula,” indicating that the alchemist must proceed by dissolving and coagulating substances in the vessel. Particularly in his late abstracted works, Ernst removed recognizable details, assembling his forms into a model of universal harmony. In When Reason Sleeps, the Sirens Sing (1960) (S/M 3548), a round spiraling form is mirrored above and below the horizon. The golden sun and the deep blue moon reflect the cyclic return of day and night, as consciousness melds to the deep unconscious power of the dreaming mind. The simple contrast of blue and yellow in this painting echoes one of Ernst’s earliest essays, in which he describes the symbolic marriage of these two colors that precedes the birth of plants on earth: . . . Blue and yellow are the first apparitions in color of the colored totalities of darkness and light, the measureless sphere of the firmament and the finite sphere of the earth, the first formation of the primary colors blue and yellow. Then the blue and yellow wedding


Fig. 7.9. Max Ernst, Marriage of Heaven and Earth, 1962, 115.9 ⫻ 88.9 cm (S/M 3631). Collection of Lois and Georges de Menil, Houston. Photo by F. W. Seiders. © 1999 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

max er nst and alchemy became possible: green, plant growth multiplied. The sea and the sky continued to be the symbol of the mind, finality the symbol of man. The first prayer of the plants as marriage.88 Many such late abstracted landscapes contain reminiscences of his earliest motifs, including horizontal landscapes and dense forests now combined with a simplicity born of long experience. Slightly different paint patterns above and below the horizon point again to the alchemical adage “as above, so below.” Throughout his life, landscapes marked the milestones of Ernst’s career, but they were more than just opportunities for technical experiments. With rich artistic sources at his disposal, from the Northern Renaissance to German Romanticism, Ernst fused his aesthetic vision to the real landscapes of his peripatetic career, transforming the forests of the Rhineland, the jungles of Indochina, the caves of the Ardèche, the arid mountain wilderness of Arizona, the misty peace of the Touraine, and, finally, the golden sunlight of Provence. Within these many evolutions of the land itself, the earth below and the sky above reflect each other, while love is joyously celebrated in sexual conjunctions visible throughout the mineral, vegetable, and animal realms. The landscape became the alembic in which he fermented his fantasies of love and uninhibited sexuality. The goal of the alchemist is to produce the conjunction of the sun and the moon, the chemical marriage of Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury, which results in their androgynous union as King and Queen. As in the surrealist pursuit of that point in the mind at which conscious and unconscious states become one, Ernst balanced the opposing forces that were the antipodal poles of his landscapes. The marriage of heaven and earth, the conjunction of the sun and the moon, and the equilibrium between male and female symbols in these paintings reveal their alchemical nature. They also map the psychological duality that Ernst frequently described as the polarized workings of his own mind. He understood the mysteries and rewards of the alchemical quest and found himself within its symbols.


Conclusion In 1972, the University of Bonn awarded Max Ernst an honorary doctoral degree in philosophy. His friend Dr. Eduard Trier composed the tribute, tracing his achievements from his student days at the university and highlighting the most significant moments in his career.1 This belated culmination of his studies, interrupted by the war and by his desire for an active participation in the revolutionary spirit of Dada and surrealism, was an honor that seemed to please him. For an artist whose peripatetic career led to many highs and lows, perhaps it is fair to say that this tribute provided some ironic justice for his many years of struggle and frustration. This award also gave fitting recognition to the intellectual life of an artist and poet who felt that the continual pursuit of knowledge had no bounds or limits. Philosophy, literature, and psychoanalytic writings had nourished his art since his youth, but his ideas were always closely bound to continual technical experimentation, from his first collages and photomontages through his development of frottage, grattage, decalcomania, and drip painting. His hands were finally stilled three years later when a stroke left him almost completely paralyzed. He lay immobilized in his bed in Paris for almost a year before dying on April 1, 1976, a few hours before his eighty-fifth birthday.2 In the years since, his work has continued to receive acclaim, especially in 1991, when several large retrospective exhibitions and smaller shows paid tribute to the centenary of his birth. Today he is recognized as one of Germany’s greatest artists of the twentieth century.


max er nst and alchemy Ernst’s adaptations of alchemical philosophy and imagery in his Cologne Dada works through his late landscapes point to the importance and continuity of this essential facet of his multifaceted iconography. When Ernst moved to Paris in 1922, he found a group of writers and artists who shared his interest in alchemy and other occult phenomena. From the early 1920s into the 1930s and 1940s, the surrealists’ interest in alchemy and other hermetic philosophies grew. Evidence can be found abundantly within the works of surrealism’s younger generation of artists and writers, especially Leonora Carrington, Victor Brauner, Kurt Seligmann, Remedios Varo, Gordon Onslow-Ford, and Joseph Cornell, to name just a few. By the 1950s and 1960s, Breton’s study of alchemical texts, together with his friendships with René Alleau, president of the Société Alchimique of France, and with Fulcanelli’s disciple Eugène Canseliet, enriched his late writings and influenced the following generation in the continuing evolution of surrealist thought and creativity. The “Occultation of Surrealism,” which Breton envisioned in the Second Manifesto, deserves a more extensive investigation to enrich our understanding of the surrealists’ dedicated pursuit of the “occult.” The present study of the pivotal role of Max Ernst in this regard has begun the task of charting this influence, but the effect of alchemy and other hermetic philosophies upon the surrealist movement as a whole is a broader tale whose telling remains the goal of a future project. Undoubtedly, Ernst’s achievements will continue to provide fertile ground for new interpretations for many years to come. He would surely approve of this evolutionary process, which ensures that the meaning of his art remains elusive, fluctuating, and ultimately mysterious. At the end of Herbert Silberer’s tale, the wanderer entered a land filled with worldly riches, good health, and acclaim, signifying that he had found the secret of transmutation. In truth, few alchemists, if any, ever found that ultimate secret of transmutation. Even the wisest of the ancient adepts felt that their search for alchemical wisdom was unending, always capable of evolving to explore greater mysteries. In his final years Ernst received international recognition for his art and for his contributions to the surrealist movement, but his art never lost its experimental fervor. He might have preferred to align himself with those struggling alchemists who understood that the journey was ultimately more important than the goal. From the moment of his mythic rebirth at the end of the First World War, he had aspired “to become a magician and to find the myth of his


conclusion time.” 3 Alchemy has had a tenacious hold on the late-twentieth-century imagination, and in its own evolution, its philosophy and imagery continue to inspire many artists, writers, and practitioners today. These contemporary alchemists often measure their success not in worldly possessions, but in the satisfaction of devoting themselves to the intrigue of the unsolvable puzzle—alchemy—that model for physical, intellectual, and spiritual transformation which has captured the human imagination throughout the ages. Rather than accepting the title of “adept,” Ernst would probably have preferred to see himself as an “initiate” so that the work could continue. As he once said of his own journey: “A painter is lost if he finds himself. The fact that he has succeeded in not finding himself, is regarded by Max Ernst as his only ‘achievement.’” 4



Notes Foreword 1. New York Times, Sunday, March 6, 1938. 2. See, for example, Janice Loeb, “Surrealism,” Vassar Review (February 1935): 5 – 12, 22 – 25; Herbert F. Muller, “Surrealism: A Dissenting Opinion,” New Directions 1940 (Norfolk: New Directions, 1940), 548 –562 —which, by the way, does not dissent from the prevailing critical view of the movement, but only from the affirmation of surrealism by Nicolas Calas in the same publication. 3. Julien Levy, Surrealism (New York: Black Sun Press, 1936); Lewis Mumford, “Surrealism and Civilization,” in Mumford, The Human Prospect (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1955 [1936]), 185 –190; Robert Clancy, “Surrealism and Freedom,” in American Journal of Economics and Sociology (New York, 1949), 271– 276; Nicolas Calas, ed., “Values in Surrealism,” New Directions 1940, and Nicolas Calas, Confound the Wise (New York: Arrow Editions, 1942). 4. Gilbert Highet, “The Sense of Nonsense: Dada and Surrealism,” People, Places and Books (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953), 248 – 255. 5. Captain Marvel and the Surrealist Imp (New York: Fawcett Comics, May 1948). 6. Congressional Record, August 16, 1949. 7. Guy Ducornet, Le Punching-Ball et la vache à lait: La Critique universitaire nordaméricaine face au surréalisme (Angers: Deleatur, 1992). 8. Renée Riese Hubert, “Three Women Poets,” Yale French Studies 21 (Spring– Summer 1958): 40 – 48; Myrna Bell Rochester, René Crevel: Le Pays de miroirs absolus (Saratoga, Calif.: Anma Libri, 1978). For J. H. Matthews, see especially his Surrealist Poetry in France (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1969) and The Imagery of Surrealism (Syracuse University Press, 1977). A complete list of Matthews’s books may be found in Ducornet, Le Punching-Ball, 163 –164. 9. Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, with an introduction by Robin D. G. Kelley (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000 [first English translation, 1972]); Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico (New York: Grove Press, 1961).


notes to pages xvii– 2 10. Walter Benjamin, “Surrealism,” in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978), 177–192; Theodor W. Adorno, “Looking Back on Surrealism,” Noonday 3 (New York: Noonday Press, 1960), 16 – 20; Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (New York: Vintage, 1962 [1955]) and An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969). See also my article “Herbert Marcuse and the Surrealist Revolution,” followed by Marcuse’s “Letters to Chicago Surrealists,” in Arsenal/Surrealist Subversion 4 (Chicago: Black Swan Press, 1989), 31– 47. 11. Robin D. G. Kelley, “Dig They Freedom: Meditations on History and the Black Avant-Garde,” Lenox Avenue 3 (1997): 13 – 27, and the same author’s introductions to Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1997), to Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), and to Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism; David R. Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History (New York and London: Verso, 1994), and “Plotting against Eurocentrism: The 1929 Surrealist Map of the World,” in Surrealism: Revolution against Whiteness, special issue of Race Traitor: Journal of the New Abolitionism (Somerville, Mass., 1998), 32 – 39; Herman Lebovics, True France: The Wars over Cultural Identity, 1900 –1945 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992); Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), and “Walter Benjamin and Cinema: Not a One-Way Street,” in Critical Inquiry 25, no. 2 (Winter 1999): 306 – 343; Paul Buhle, ed., Popular Culture in America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987); Archie Green, Wobblies, Pile Butts, and Other Heroes: Laborlore Explorations (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993); Paul Garon, Blues and the Poetic Spirit (revised and expanded edition, San Francisco: City Lights, 1996), and, with Beth Garon, Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues (New York: DaCapo, 1992); Ron Sakolsky and James Koehnline, eds., Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Culture (New York: Autonomedia/AK Press, 1993). 12. André Breton, L’Amour fou (Paris: Gallimard, 1937), 49. 13. Karel Teige, “Réponse à une enquête sur le surréalisme” (1951), in Change 25 (Paris, December 1975): 65. 14. The recent work of Don LaCoss, E. San Juan, Jr., Malynne Sternstein, and Michael Stone-Richards is especially impressive in this regard.

Introduction 1. “Au delà de la peinture,” in Max Ernst: Oeuvres de 1919 à 1936, Cahiers d’Art, special Ernst issue (1937): 13 – 46. 2. “Some Data on the Youth of M. E., As Told by Himself,” View 2, no. 1, special Ernst issue (April 1942): 28 – 30. Ernst collaborated with Dorothea Tanning and Robert Motherwell to produce the first expanded English version of his autobiographical writings, Beyond Painting and Other Writings by the Artist and His Friends, a volume in the Documents of Modern Art series, ed. Robert Motherwell (New York: Wittenborn, Schultz, 1948). 3. The exhibition catalog included German translations from Ernst’s earlier writings along with collected praise from his friends and other quotations chosen to


notes to pages 3 – 5 develop his magical persona more fully. Max Ernst Gemälde und Graphik, 1920 –1950, ed. Lothar and Loni Pretzell, exh. cat. (Brühl: Schloss Augustusberg, 1951), 85. 4. Patrick Waldberg, Max Ernst (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1958); Eduard Trier, Max Ernst (Recklinghausen: A. Bongers, 1959); and John Russell, Max Ernst, Life and Work (New York: Abrams, 1967). Other overviews of his life include Uwe Schneede, Max Ernst (New York: Praeger, 1973); Edward Quinn, Max Ernst (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1977); Sarane Alexandrian, Max Ernst (Paris: Somogy, 1992); and Ludger Derenthal and Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst, trans. Wolf Fruhtrunk (Paris: Casterman, 1992). 5. “An Informal Life of M. E. (as Told by Himself to a Young Friend),” in Max Ernst, ed. William S. Lieberman, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961), 7– 24; and “Biographische Notizen (Wahrheitgewebe und Lügengewebe) Fortsetzung von 1920 bis heute,” in Max Ernst, exh. cat. (Cologne: Wallraf-Richartz Museum, 1963), 19– 34. 6. “Notes pour une biographie,” in Max Ernst, Ecritures (Paris: Gallimard, 1970), 11– 99. 7. Max Ernst: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1975); Max Ernst, exh. cat. (Paris: Grand Palais, 1975); and Max Ernst: Retrospektive 1979, exh. cat. (Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1979). 8. Werner Spies, Max Ernst, Oeuvre Katalog (Houston: Menil Foundation; Cologne: M. DuMont Schauberg). The volumes include Das graphisches Werke, with contributions by Helmut R. Leppien, 1975, and the following with Sigrid and Günter Metken: Werke, 1906 –1925 (1975); Werke, 1925 –1929 (1976); Werke, 1929 –1938 (1979); Werke, 1939 –1953 (1987); Werke, 1954 –1963 (1998). 9. Werner Spies, Max Ernst— Collagen, Inventar und Widerspruch (Cologne: M. DuMont Schauberg, 1974). Subsequent citations are from Max Ernst Collages: The Invention of the Surrealist Universe, trans. John William Gabriel (New York: Abrams, 1991). 10. Arnold Böcklin, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst: Eine Reise ins Ungewisse, exh. cat. (Bern: Benteli, 1997), and Max Ernst: Die Retrospektive, exh. cat. (Berlin: SMPK Nationalgalerie and Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1999). 11. Dirk Teuber, “Max Ernst’s Lehrmittel,” in Max Ernst in Köln: Die rheinische Kunstszene bis 1922, exh. cat. (Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1980), 206 – 240. Teuber identified over a hundred Dada works based on pages from the Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog that had been either overpainted or clipped and collaged. Charlotte Stokes found many of the original wood engravings used by Ernst and suggested how their original context often amplified the meaning of the work. 12. “The Paintings: ‘It Is Beautiful Enough the Way It Is,’” in Max Ernst: Sculpture and Recent Painting, ed. Sam Hunter, exh. cat. (New York: Jewish Museum, 1966), 20. 13. Geoffrey Hinton, “Max Ernst: Les Hommes n’en sauront rien,” Burlington Magazine 117 (May 1975): 292 – 299. 14. For a review of alchemical research see M. E. Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Collage Novel, Une Semaine de bonté: Feuilleton Sources and Alchemical Interpretation” (Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1984), 117–119, 155 –168; David Hopkins, “Max Ernst’s La Toilette de la mariée,” Burlington Magazine 133 (April 1991): 237, n. 8, and David Hopkins, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst: The Bride Shared (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 106, n. 22. The alchemical findings of these scholars are cited in further detail throughout the book.


notes to pages 5 – 9 15. Most of the comparative alchemical imagery included here was first printed in the early seventeenth century. As indicated in the text, only a handful of images were reprinted in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century publications. Ernst’s knowledge of the original texts is difficult to establish, but because he admired bizarre nineteenth-century images, his familiarity with the reprinted imagery is more likely.

1. The Myth of the Child 1. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 28. 2. The importance of Freudian theory to Ernst has been well documented in the many publications of Werner Spies; for example, Max Ernst, 1950 –1970: The Return of La Belle Jardinière (New York: Abrams, 1973), 36 – 44. See also Gerd Bauer, “Die Surrealisten und Sigmund Freud,” Jahresring 27 (1980 –1981): 139–154; Charlotte Stokes, “Collage as Jokework: Freud’s Theories of Wit as the Foundation for the Collages of Max Ernst,” Leonardo 15 (1982): 199– 204; Geoffrey Hinton, “Max Ernst: Les Hommes n’en sauront rien”; Malcolm Gee, “Max Ernst, God, and the Revolution by Night,” Arts Magazine 55 (March 1981): 85 – 91; Laura Meixner, “Max Ernst’s Aquis Submersus as Literary Collage,” Arts Magazine 61 (November 1986): 80 – 85; and Elizabeth Legge, Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources (Ann Arbor: U.M.I., 1989). 3. Martica Sawin, Surrealism in Exile (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995); Dickran Tashjian, A Boatload of Madmen (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1995); and Stephanie Barron with Sabine Eckmann, Exiles ⫹ Emigrés, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1997), 156 –163. 4. André Breton, “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst,” View 2, no. 1, special Ernst issue (April 1942): 5 –7. 5. Ernst’s praise for his German cultural heritage in the midst of the war paralleled the comments of André Breton in his essay “Originality and Freedom,” Art in Australia (December–January–February 1941–1942), cited in Franklin Rosemont, ed., André Breton: What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1978), 206 – 208. Along with French authors, Breton praised Hölderlin, Novalis, and Hegel, and stated, “Their message never can be lost, even though for the moment it is being transmitted underground. It assigns to man a role entirely contradictory to that which, in 1941, the masters of Europe wish him to play.” 6. The first of these, titled “Max Ernst,” was published in Das Junge Rheinland 2 (November 2, 1921). The most elaborate version, “Notes pour une biographie,” was published the year before his death in Max Ernst (Paris: Grand-Palais, 1975). These earlier autobiographies, augmented with other excerpted writings, are included in Max Ernst, exh. cat. (London: Tate Gallery, 1991), 281– 339. 7. Max Ernst, “Visions de demi-sommeil,” La Révolution surréaliste 9–10 (October 1, 1927): 7. 8. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture.” This essay emphasized the connection between collage and alchemy and will be analyzed later in greater depth. 9. As noted in the Introduction, Ernst often returned to these early statements and expanded or amended them in the catalog essays for his later exhibitions. 10. For example, Werner Spies connected the opening paragraph from View to


notes to pages 9 – 16 Freud’s essay on Leonardo da Vinci in order to support his interpretation of the bird Loplop as the artist’s alter ego: Loplop: The Artist in the Third Person, trans. John W. Gabriel (New York: Braziller, 1983), 7–10. 11. Stokes suggested that Kurt Seligmann’s presence within Ernst’s New York circle contributed to the magazine’s focus on magic and the supernatural. Although Seligmann’s book The Mirror of Magic was not published until 1948, it marked a high point in the interest in hermeticism that had developed in surrealist circles in France. Charlotte Stokes, “Magus in New York: Max Ernst 1942,” Odyssey 5 (December 1982): 36 – 44. 12. Jacques Collin de Plancy, Dictionnaire Infernal (1863; reprint, Geneva: Slatkine, 1980), 635. 13. This horoscope was probably cast in New York; Stokes, “Magus,” 44. 14. Poisson was a practicing alchemist whose publications contained many rare alchemical images. His contributions to the late-nineteenth-century occult revival will be discussed in the following chapter. This engraving was reproduced in Théories et symboles des alchimistes: Le Grand Oeuvre (1891; reprint, Paris: Editions Traditionnelles, 1981), 95. 15. Max Ernst, “Biographische Notizen,” 19. 16. Chacornac published a French edition in 1928. The name “Rosencreutz” appears in a variety of spellings. This version has been adopted for consistency. 17. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 28. 18. André Breton, “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst,” 6. 19. Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964), 130 –143. See also Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1941), 5:127–138, and Charles Nauert, Agrippa and the Crisis of Renaissance Thought (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). 20. Albert joined the Dominican order in 1223 and became bishop of Ratisbon from 1260 to 1262, when he retired to a cloister in Cologne until his death in 1280. He taught in Paris from about 1245 to 1248. Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934), 2:517–592; Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century (New York: George Braziller, 1988), 114. His Compositum de compositis was translated by Albert Poisson, Cinq traités d’alchimie des plus grands philosophes (Paris: Chacornac, 1890), 91–127. 21. Patrick Waldberg compiles much biographical information on Ernst’s early childhood, including the impact of Max’s complicated relationship with his father on his choice of a career in painting, in “La Jeunesse de Max Ernst,” Mercure de France 330 (June 1957): 267– 299, later included in Waldberg, Max Ernst. He also discusses the polarized nature of Ernst’s disposition as a child who enjoyed play as well as solitude, 278. 22. Elizabeth Legge, Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources, 11–103. 23. André Perinaud, “Entretiens avec Max Ernst,” Arts, Lettres, Spectacles, Musique 921 (June 19– 25, 1963): 10. 24. Max Ernst, “Visions de demi-sommeil,” 7. 25. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 26. Günter Metken, “Sich die Kunst von Leib halten,” Pantheon 36 (April–May–


notes to pages 16 – 20 June 1978): 144 –149; Thomas Gaehtgens, “Das ‘Märchen von Schöpfertum des Künstlers’: Anmerkungen zu den Selbstbildnissen Max Ernsts und zu Loplop,” in Max Ernst: Retrospektiv 1979 (Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1979), 43 –78; Werner Spies, Loplop: The Artist in the Third Person; Charlotte Stokes, “Surrealist Persona: Max Ernst’s Loplop, Superior of Birds,” Simiolus 13 (1983): 225 – 234. 27. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 28. Evan Mauer, “In Quest of Myth: An Investigation of the Relationship between Surrealism and Primitivism” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1974), 277, and “Dada and Surrealism,” in Primitivism in 20th Century Art, ed. William Rubin, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1984), 2:535 –593. 29. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 30. Mauer, “In Quest of Myth,” 277. 31. Max Ernst, “Souvenirs rhénans,” L’Oeil 16, no. 103 (April 1956): 10. 32. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30.

2. Alchemy: Its History, Revival, and Symbolism 1. Julius Ruska, Tabula Smaragdina: Ein Betrag zur Geschichte der Hermetischen Literatur (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1926). 2. Brian P. Copenhaver, Hermetica (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), xv–xxiv. The introduction traces hermetic writings from the classical era into the early Middle Ages, distinguishing between the “popular” occult writings and the more “philosophical” treatises of the Hermetica proper. The connections between these two types of hermetic writings, their later translations, and their scholarly critics to date are also evaluated, xiii–lxxxiii. 3. Lucid discussions of alchemy can be found in Albert Poisson, Théories et symboles des alchimistes; Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, Alchemy: The Secret Art (New York: Avon Books, 1973); Allison Coudert, Alchemy: The Philosopher’s Stone (London: Wildwood House, 1980); Jacques van Lennep, Alchimie (Brussels: Crédit Communal, 1984); Cherry Gilcrist, Alchemy, the Great Work (Longmead: Element Books, 1991); Gareth Roberts, The Mirror of Alchemy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994); and Andrea de Pascalis, Alchemy: The Golden Art (Rome: Gremese International, 1995). Chinese alchemy defined five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water— each associated with the feminine-masculine duality of yin and yang, and with the metals and planets. J. C. Cooper, Chinese Alchemy (New York: Sterling, 1990), 91. 4. Raphael Patai, The Jewish Alchemists: A History and Source Book (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994); Sayyed Hassein Nasr, “Alchemy and Other Occult Sciences,” Islamic Science—An Illustrated Study (London: World of Islam Festival Publishing, 1976), 193 – 207. 5. Barbara Obrist, Les Débuts de l’imagerie alchimique XIV–XVe siècles (Paris: Sycomore, 1982); Robert Halleux, Les Textes alchimiques (Turnhout: Brepols, 1979); and Bernard Roger, A la découverte de l’alchimie (St.-Jean-de-Braye: Editions Dangles, 1988). 6. See the Book of the Holy Trinity, Lennep, Alchimie, 70 –78. 7. See discussion of Fulcanelli below. 8. See Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. 9. Charles Nauert, Jr., Agrippa and the Crisis of Renaissance Thought, 229.


notes to pages 20 – 22 10. The complex relationship between the rise of the Rosicrucian Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation is discussed in Frances Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972; reprint, London: Ark Paperbacks, 1986), and John Warwick Montgomery, Cross and Crucible: Johann Valentin Andreae (1586 –1654) (The Hague: Hartinus Nijhoff, 1973). 11. Stanislas Klossowski de Rola illustrated and explained the most significant of these alchemical engravings in The Golden Game. Obrist, 11– 36, critiqued twentiethcentury scholarship on alchemical imagery and addressed some of the problems posed by the ubiquitous influence of Jung in twentieth-century alchemical studies. 12. Peter Dryer examined the original drawing in Berlin and compared its major figures to prototypes from Sebastian Brant’s (1457–1521) Narrenschiff and to images of the Antichrist. He also compared the legend added beneath the print to passages from alchemical manuscripts. “Bruegels Alchimist von 1558: Versuch einer Deutung ad Sensum Mysticum,” Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 19 (1977): 69–113. 13. Morris Berman described alchemy as the last coherent expression of “participating consciousness,” a sense of philosophical or religious belonging in the natural world, which was regrettably displaced by the rise of science. He saw surrealist art as one important contemporary link to the alchemy of the past. The Reenchantment of the World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Bantam Edition, 1984), 2, 86. 14. Ronald Gray, Goethe, the Alchemist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952); Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton’s Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 15. Two books in the 1920s reviewed the hermetic sources of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century romantic literature: Constantin Bila, La Croyance à la magie au XVIIIe siècle en France dans les contes, romans et traités (Paris: Gamber, 1925), and Auguste Viatte, Les Sources occultes du romantisme, illuminisme—théosophie, 1770 –1820, 2 vols. (1927; reprint, Paris: Champion, 1965). 16. Ferdinand Hoefer, Histoire de la chimie depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à notre époque, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Fils & Cie, 1866 –1869). This publication and other histories of chemistry were reviewed in Jost Weyer, “The Image of Alchemy in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Histories of Chemistry,” Ambix 23 (July 1976): 65 –79. See also W. Ganzenmüller, “Wandlungen in der Geschichtlichen betrachtung der Alchimie,” Chymia 3 (1950): 143 –154, and Sarane Alexandrian, Histoire de la philosophie occulte (Paris: Seghers, 1983), 141–170. 17. Weyer, “The Image of Alchemy,” 70. See Marcellin Berthelot, Les Origines de l’alchimie (Paris: G. Steinheil, 1885), Collection des anciens alchimistes Grecs, 3 vols. (Paris: G. Steinheil, 1888), and La Chimie au moyen âge (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1893). 18. Mary Anne South Atwood, A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, introduction by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst (1850; reprint, Belfast: William Tate, 1920), 1– 20. Lindsay Clarke wrote a fictionalized account of Atwood’s life in The Chemical Wedding (London: Pan Books, 1990). 19. Arthur Edward Waite, The Secret Tradition in Alchemy (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1926). Waite and Colman Smith collaborated in designing a tarot deck known as the “Rider Deck” because of its publisher. This was the first tarot deck to have figural imagery in all seventy-eight cards, and it remains one of the most popular decks today. The Rider Tarot Deck, introduction by Stuart R. Kaplan (New York: U.S. Games, 1971), 3 –12. W. B. Yeats was also a member of this circle.


notes to pages 23 – 24 20. Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Alchemy and the Alchemists, with a preface by Manly P. Hall (1857; reprint, Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1976), 22. 21. Eliphas Lévi [Alphonse Louis Constant], La Clé des grands mystères (Paris: Baillière, 1861), opp. 411, 413, 415. See also Paul Chacornac, Eliphas Lévi, 1810 –1875: Rénovateur de l’occultisme en France (Paris: Chacornac Frères, 1926). Interest in occultism grew in Paris during the 1830s and 1840s, inaugurated by Cyliani’s Hermès dévoilé (1832; reprint, Paris: Editions Traditionnelles, 1991), which included a discussion of alchemy. Associations among Lévi, his socialist-feminist friend Flora Tristan, and the socialist phrenologist Simon Ganeau suggest a rich mix of politics and occultism fermenting in the same period during which Karl Marx described Jacob Böhme as a “great philosopher.” Franklin Rosemont, “Karl Marx and the Iroquois,” Arsenal: Surrealist Subversion 4 (Chicago: Black Swan Press, 1989), 202 – 203. 22. Robert Pincus-Witten, Occult Symbolism in France: Joséphin Péladan and the Salons de la Rose-Croix (New York: Garland, 1976), 58. See also Christopher McIntosh, Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival (London: Rider, 1972), and Janis BergmanCarton, “The Medium Is the Medium: Jules Bois, Spiritualism and the Esoteric Interest of the Nabis,” Arts Magazine 61 (December 1986): 24 – 29. 23. Louis Figuier, L’Alchimie et les alchimistes (1854; reprint, Paris: Denoël, 1970), 221– 247. 24. Victor-Emile Michelet, Les Compagnons de la hiérophanie: Souvenirs du mouvement hermétiste à la fin du XIXe siècle (1936; reprint, Nice: Belisane, 1977), 98 –100. Several sources connect hermeticism and French symbolism, including Denis Saurat, La Littérature et l’occultisme (Paris: Editions Rieder, 1929), and John Senior, The Way Down and Out: The Occult in Symbolist Literature (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1959). 25. Marcel Jean and Arpad Mezei, Genèse de la pensée moderne (Paris: Corrêa, 1950), and Maldoror (Paris: Editions du Pavois, 1947). 26. Bibliophile Jacob [Paul Lacroix], Curiosités des sciences occultes (Paris: Garnier, 1885), 3 –155. 27. L’Ordre de la Rose-Croix A.M.O.R.C., Les Sciences maudites (Paris: Diffusion Traditionnelle, 1990). 28. August Strindberg, Bréviaire alchimique: Lettres d’August Strindberg à Jollivet-Castelot (Paris: Durville, 1912). 29. François Jollivet-Castelot, La Vie et l’âme de la matière: Essai de physiologie chimique, études de dynamochimie (Paris: Société d’Editions Scientifiques, 1892 –1893), 24 – 27, 81– 91. In L’Hylozoïsme, l’alchimie: Les Chimistes unitaires (Paris: Chamuel, 1896), JollivetCastelot cited nineteenth-century chemists who defended the essential unity of matter, including Cyliani, Cambriel, Louis Lucas, Eliphas Lévi, Théodore Tiffereau, and Albert Poisson. This idea continued into the twentieth century with Abel Haatan, Contribution à l’étude de l’alchimie (Paris: Chacornac, 1905); Charles Lancelin, L’Occultisme et la science (Paris: Editions Jean Meyer, 1926); and André de Rassenfosse and G. Guében, Des Alchimistes aux briseurs d’atoms (Paris: Doin, 1928). Haatan stated that atomic theory proves the unity of matter, and he also made associations to the experiments of Crookes and cathode rays, 15 – 23. 30. François Jollivet-Castelot, La Science alchimique au XX siècle (Paris: Chacornac, 1904). The frontispiece is a photograph of Jollivet-Castelot and his colleagues in a laboratory.


notes to pages 24 – 27 31. François Jollivet-Castelot, Au Carmel: Roman mystique; Destin, ou le fils d’Hermes; and Natura mystica ou le jardin de la fée Viviane. Chacornac published all three books. 32. Jollivet-Castelot, Natura mystica, 32, 44. 33. This article was reprinted from the periodical La Voile d’Isis (December 1922) in Georges Richet, “La Science alchimique au XXme siècle,” in La Révolution chimique, ed. François Jollivet-Castelot (Paris: Chacornac, 1925), 251– 286. 34. Jollivet-Castelot, La Révolution chimique, 1–108, and 272, n. 1. 35. Jollivet-Castelot, La Fabrication chimique de l’or (Paris: chez auteur, 1928), 3 – 8. 36. Michelet, Les Compagnons de la hiérophanie, 98 –100. Marc Haven [Emmanuel Lalande], Arnaud de Villeneuve: Sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris: Chamuel, 1896), and Le Maïtre inconnu Cagliostro (Paris: Dorbon-aîné, 1912). Arnald is often spelled Arnold in Englishlanguage works. 37. Michelet, Les Compagnons de la hiérophanie, 84 – 87. 38. The Wellcome Institute in London owns some of Poisson’s personal manuscripts. 39. A few reprint editions contained illustrations, such as Basil Valentine’s Les Douze Clefs de philosophie (Paris: Chamuel, 1899). 40. Karl Kiesewetter, Die Geheimwissenschaften (Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich, 1894). 41. Ibid., 230 – 240. Kiesewetter’s other publications include Geschichte des neueren Occultismus (Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich, 1891); Faust, in der Geschichte und Tradition: Mit besonderer Berüchsichtigung des occulten Phänomenalismus und des mittelalterlicher Zauberwesens (Leipzig: Max Spohr, 1893); Der Occultismus des Altertums (Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich, 1895 –1896). 42. See Cornelius Agrippa, Magische Werk (Berlin: Barsdorf, 1916), and Ernst Darmstaedter, Die Alchemie des Geber (Berlin: J. Springer, 1922). 43. A comprehensive survey is found in Luther H. Martin, “A History of the Psychological Interpretation of Alchemy,” Ambix 22 (March 1975): 10 – 20. See also Filiz E. Burhan, “Vision and Visionaries: Nineteenth Century Psychological Theory; The Occult Sciences and the Formation of the Symbolist Aesthetic in France” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1979); Ernest Bosc, La Psychologie devant la science et les savants (Paris: Daragon, 1908); Theodore Flournoy, Spiritism and Psychology, translated and abridged by Hereward Carrington (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1911); Emile Boirac, La Psychologie inconnu (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1920); J. Maxwell, “La Magie naturelle psychologique,” in La Magie (Paris: Ernest Flammarion, 1922), 142 –162, 211– 213; Charles Richet, Traité de métapsychique (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1923); and Charles Richet, Thirty Years of Psychical Research, trans. Stanley De Brath (London: W. Collins Sons, 1923). Further discussion of the influence of Theodore Flournoy, Charles Richet, and Pierre Janet on the surrealists will follow. 44. Thomas de Cauzons [pseud.], La Magie et la sorcellerie en France (Paris: Dorbonaîné, [1911?]). 45. Janet’s works include L’Automatisme psychologique (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1889), Névroses et idées fixes, 2 vols. (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1898), and De l’angoisse à l’extase, 2 vols. (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1926). 46. Herbert Silberer, Probleme der Mystik und ihrer Symbolik (Vienna: H. Heller, 1914). Further citations, cited herein as “Silberer,” are taken from the English edition: Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism, trans. Smith Ely Jelliffe (1917; reprint, New York: Samuel Weiser, 1970).


notes to pages 27 – 30 47. The evolution of this legend is summarized in Richard K. Payne, “Sex and Gestation: The Union of Opposites in European and Chinese Alchemy,” Ambix 36 (July 1989): 78. David Hopkins discussed the Rosicrucian connections in Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst, 55 –56. 48. Cited in Silberer, 152 –153. 49. For a catalog of hermetic authors into the 1910s, arranged by discipline, see Albert Caillet, Manuel bibliographique des sciences psychiques ou occultes, 3 vols. (Paris: Dorbon-aîné, 1912). For alchemy, see vol. 1, xxxxii–xxxxv. 50. Edmund O. von Lippmann, Entstehung und Ausbreitung der Alchimie (Berlin: J. Springer, 1919), 496, 508, 512 –513, and bibliography. 51. Weyer, “The Image of Alchemy,” 70 –79; Rassenfosse and Guében, Des Alchimistes aux briseurs d’atoms, 127–128. See also Linda Dalrymple Henderson, Duchamp in Context: Science and Technology in the Large Glass and Related Works (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 22 – 28. 52. For example, several of Agrippa’s works were translated into French: La Magie d’Arbatel (Paris: Durville fils, 1910); La Philosophie occulte, 2 vols. (Paris: Chacornac, 1910 – 1911); Joseph Orsier, Henri Cornélis Agrippa: Sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris: Chacornac, 1911). Barsdorf ’s editions on Agrippa appeared in 1916 and 1921; Christian Rosencreutz, Les Noces chymiques de Christian Rosenkreutz, introduction by Auriger (Paris: Chacornac, 1928); Ramón Lull, Livre de l’ami et de l’aimé, trans. A. de Barrau and Max Jacob (Paris: Editions de la Sirène, 1919); L’Ami et l’aimé, trans. Marius André (Paris: Crès, 1921); L’Ars compendiosa de R. Lulle (Paris: J. Vrin, 1930). 53. René Allendy, “L’Occultisme nouveau,” Le Voile d’Isis, 14th ser. (1920): 3. Allendy’s writings include Le Grand-oeuvre thérapeutique des alchimistes et les principes de l’homeopathie (Paris: Voile d’Isis, 1920) and Rêves et leur interprétation psychoanalytique (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1926). 54. Papus [Gérard Encausse] died during the war, but several books originally published in the 1880s and 1890s were reprinted throughout the first quarter of the century, such as Traité élémentaire de science occulte (Paris: Chacornac, 1906, and A. Michel, 1926). See also Marie-Sophie André and Christophe Beaufils, Papus biographie: La Belle Epoque de l’occultisme (Paris: Berg, 1995). Oswald Wirth lived until 1943 and continued to publish hermetic books, including Le Tarot des imagiers du Moyen Age (Paris: E. Nourry, 1927) and Le Symbolisme hermétique dans ses rapports avec l’alchimie et la Francmaçonierie (Paris: Dervy-Livres, 1930). 55. In preparation for An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy (San Francisco: H. S. Crocker, 1928), Manly Hall began collecting hermetic books in 1922, having great success in London at the Marks Bookstore and at the firm of Dorbon-aîné in Paris. The 1940 edition of Dorbonaîné’s catalog Bibliotheca Esoterica listed more than six thousand works. Hall’s alchemical collection, gathered over sixty years, was presented in Alchemy: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Manly P. Hall Collection of Books and Manuscripts (Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1986), xiii. 56. Giovanni Carbonelli, Sulle fonti storiche della chimica e dell’alchimia in Italia (Rome: Institutio nazionale medico farmacologico, 1925), 80 – 81. 57. Kenneth Rayner Johnson, The Fulcanelli Phenomena (Jersey: Spearman, 1980), 145 –160. Johnson speculated on several possibilities—Julien Champagne, Pierre


notes to pages 30 – 33 Dujols, and Eugène Canseliet, Fulcanelli’s student, who wrote the introductions to his two major publications. 58. Fulcanelli [pseud.], Le Mystère des cathédrales et l’interprétation ésotérique des symboles hermétiques du Grand-Oeuvre (1926), trans. Mary Sworder (London: Spearman, 1971). 59. Fulcanelli [pseud.], Les Demeures philosophales et le symbolisme hermétique dans ses rapports avec l’art sacré et l’ésotérisme du Grand-Oeuvre (1930; rev. ed., augmented by Eugène Canseliet, Paris: Pauvert, 1965). 60. Fulcanelli, Le Mystère des cathédrales, 75 –76. Flamel’s original manuscript had disappeared, but two eighteenth-century copies were preserved in the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal and the Bibliothèque Nationale, containing images later described as surrealist by Breton and Robert Desnos, as discussed below. 61. Emile Angelo Grillot de Givry, Le Musée des sorciers, mages et alchimistes (Paris: Librairie de France, 1929). 62. Jung read Silberer’s book in 1914 and corresponded with him about it, although he felt Silberer’s equation of alchemy and psychology was “off the beaten track and rather silly.” In 1935, after his own interest in alchemy had been sparked, he wrote Erich Neumann: “The connecting link I was missing for so long has now been found, and it is alchemy as Silberer correctly surmised.” See Martin, “A History of the Psychological Interpretation of Alchemy,” 16 –17. While Jung’s study of alchemy postdated that of Silberer, his earliest writings nevertheless were steeped in other areas of mystical philosophy. 63. See The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life, trans. Richard Wilhelm, with a foreword by C. G. Jung (1931; reprint, New York: Harcourt Brace & World, 1931); Psychologie und Alchimie (Zurich: Rascher, 1944); and Mysterium Coniunctionis (Zurich: Rascher, 1955). 64. Surréalisme au service de la révolution (December 1931): 18. 65. I am grateful to Franklin Rosemont for suggesting these sources: Nicolas Calas, Foyers d’incendie (Paris: Les Editions Denoël, 1938), and Edward Glover, Freud or Jung? (New York: Meridian Books, 1956). Ernst, in particular, found Jung to be reactionary; Legge, Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytical Sources, 56. 66. Kurt Seligmann, The Mirror of Magic (New York: Pantheon Books, 1948). 67. John Read, Prelude to Chemistry (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1936); Eugène Canseliet, Deux logis alchimiques en marge de la science et de l’histoire (Paris: J. Schemit, 1945); John Read, The Alchemist in Life, Literature and Art (London: Thomas Nelson, 1947); F. Sherwood Taylor, The Alchemists: Founders of Modern Chemistry (New York: H. Schuman, 1949); Mircea Eliade, Forgerons et alchimistes (Paris: Flammarion, 1956); Eric John Holmyard, Alchemy (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1957); G. F. Hartlaub, Der Stein der Weisen: Wesen und Bildwelt der Alchimie (Munich: Prestel, 1959); Michel Caron and Serge Hutin, Les Alchimistes (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1959); Titus Burckhardt, Alchemie, Sinn und Weltbild (Olten: Walter-Verlag, 1960); and Eugène Canseliet, Alchimie: Etudes diverses de symbolisme hermétique et de pratique philosophale (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1964). 68. René Alleau, Aspects de l’alchimie traditionnelle (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1953) and Histoire des sciences occultes (Genève: Edito Service, 1965). 69. Robert Amadou, Le Feu de Soleil: Entretien sur l’alchimie avec Eugène Canseliet (Paris: Pauvert, 1978), 14 – 28, 78, 145.


notes to pages 33 – 36 70. Suzanne Lamy, André Breton: Hermétisme et poésie dans Arcane 17 (Montreal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1977), 67–170, and Danier. Supposedly, he read an alchemical manuscript on the day he died in 1966. 71. See, for example, René Alleau, “Psychanalyse et alchimie,” Medium n.s., no. 3 (May 1954): 43 – 44; Eugène Canseliet, “Introduction aux douze clés de philosophie,” Medium n.s., no. 4 (January 1955): 32, 41– 42; and Vincent Bounoure, “Préface a une traité des matrices,” le surréalisme, même 4 (Spring 1958): 12 – 25. Several authors who were members of the surrealist group at one time or another continued to write on hermetic topics, including Pierre Mabille, Elie-Charles Flamand, Bernard Roger, and Philippe Audoin.

3. Initiation 1. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 2. The standard accounts of Ernst’s early life include Patrick Waldberg, Max Ernst; John Russell, Max Ernst, Life and Work; Lothar Fischer, Max Ernst in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1969); Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst vor Max Ernst, 1891–1914, exh. cat. (Brühl: Max-Ernst-Kabinett, Brühl, 1981); and Peter Dering, Max Ernst und Bonn: Student, Kritiker, Rheinischer Expressionist, exh. cat. (Bonn: Verein August Macke Haus, 1994). 3. Waldberg, Max Ernst, 46 –50, 55 –58. 4. André Parinaud, “Entretiens avec Max Ernst,” 10. 5. Max Ernst, “Notes pour une biographie,” 18. 6. Eduard Trier, “Was Max Ernst studiert hat?” 63 – 68, in Max Ernst in Köln: Die rheinische Kunstszene bis 1922, exh. cat. (Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1980). 7. Max Ernst, “An Informal Life of M. E.,” 9. This was the first expanded version of Ernst’s autobiographical notes following the 1942 View article. It contained numerous additions, although not all of Ernst’s reminiscences concerning his school years were accurate, as Eduard Trier found. Modifications and further additions were included in Max Ernst, “Biographischen Notizen: Wahrheitgewebe und Lügengewebe,” 19– 34. 8. Max Ernst, “An Informal Life of M. E.,” 9. 9. Waldberg, Max Ernst, 80 – 81. 10. Published by Springer in Berlin. 11. Feilgenhauer’s dissertation, “Investigations into the Rapidity of Changes in Attention Spans,” was a more traditional study of the mind’s workings. His interest in occultism was shared with his brother Friedrich. Trier, “Was Max Ernst studiert hat?” 64, 68, n. 36. 12. Waldberg, Max Ernst, 66; Ernst and his biographers have commented often that he admired the works of Bosch, Bruegel, Lochner, Grünewald, Altdorfer, Schwind, and Caspar David Friedrich, although it appears that works by Altdorfer, Schwind, and Friedrich were acquired by the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne long after Ernst’s university years. Karin von Maur, “Max Ernst and Romanticism,” in Max Ernst: A Retrospective (London: Tate Gallery, 1991), 341– 342. Still, considering his earlier bicycle trip to northern European museums and his art history courses, works of these artists were easily accessible to him.


notes to pages 36 – 40 13. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 16. 14. Luise Straus was born on December 1, 1893, the daughter of Jacob and Charlotte Straus. Following the completion of her studies at the University of Bonn in 1917, she served as the assistant director of the collections of sculpture and antiquities at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. Susanne Liesenfeld, “Luise StrausErnst—Erste Skizzen zu einer Biographie,” in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 287– 292, and Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984). Parts of her unpublished autobiography, “Nomadengut,” were included in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 295 – 302, and in Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life. 15. Trier, 65. Franz Balke remembered how Ernst had infuriated the professor, Dr. phil. Paul Clemen, by staying with Lou on the trip, but he may have mistaken the identity of Ernst’s roommate. Ernst’s writings described a single trip to Paris during the summer of 1913. Camfield weighed the conflicting reports concerning Ernst’s first trips to Paris and concluded that his 1913 August trip may have been an extension of the class trip mentioned by Balke. William A. Camfield, Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1993), 330, n. 72. Lou stated that as of the spring of 1914 they had been constant companions for three-quarters of a year, but were not yet lovers. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” cited in Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 13. 16. Letter from Prof. Dr. Franz Balke to Werner Spies from May 4, 1970, reproduced in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 66 – 67. 17. Werner Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 32. 18. Joachim Heusinger von Waldegg, “Max Ernst und die rheinische Kunstszene, 1909–1919,” in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 89–106. 19. Perinaud, “Entretiens avec Max Ernst,” 10. 20. For the alchemical associations of the tower, see Elie-Charles Flamand, La Tour Saint-Jacques (Paris: Lettera Amorosa, 1973). Flamand had belonged to the surrealist group. For Flamel, see Allison Coudert, Alchemy: The Philosopher’s Stone, 14 –16. References to Ernst’s visits to these sites are found in Waldberg, Max Ernst, 95 – 96, and Max Ernst, “Notes pour une biographie,” 20. It could be argued that Ernst “remembered” these excursions only in hindsight after the subsequent surrealist visits. Even if he did not know the alchemical associations of these sites at the time, he undoubtedly passed them as he wandered throughout the Halles district due to the proximity of his hotel. Later, when he took part in the surrealist tours of these same sites, he would have relished the memories of his first chance encounters with Flamel’s environs. 21. Max Ernst, “Souvenirs rhénans,” 11; see also Stefanie Poley, “Max Ernst und Hans Arp, 1914 –1921,” in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 179–196. 22. Max Ernst, “Souvenirs rhénans,” 11. 23. Max Ernst, “Notes pour une biographie,” 18. 24. The Nibelungenlied, trans. A. T. Hatto (New York: Penguin Classics, 1969), 28. Although few of Ernst’s extant early works depicted mythological themes, it should be noted that many works of this period have been lost. 25. Waldberg, Max Ernst, 103 –106; Joachim Heusinger von Waldegg, Franz Henseler (1883 –1918), exh. cat. (Cologne: Rheinland-Verlag GmbH, 1977). 26. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 27. Spies, Max Ernst Collages: The Invention of the Surrealist Universe, 37–123. See also


notes to pages 40 – 43 Max Ernst in Köln, 1980; Jürgen Pech, Dadamax, 1919 –1921, exh. cat. (Brühl: Max-ErnstKabinett, 1982); Charlotte Stokes, “Dadamax: Ernst in the Context of Cologne Dada,” in Dada/Dimensions, ed. Stephen C. Foster (Ann Arbor: U.M.I., 1985), 111–130; and Camfield, Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism (1993), 47–75. 28. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” cited in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 295 – 296. 29. Walter Vitt, Auf der Suche nach der Biographie des Kölner Dadisten Johannes Theodor Baargeld (Starnberg: Keller, 1977). 30. The group’s writings are reviewed in Jörgen Schäfer, Dada Köln: Max Ernst, Hans Arp, Johannes Theodor Baargeld und ihre literarischen Zeitschriften (Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitäts Verlag, 1993). 31. Jürgen Pech, Dadamax, 1919 –1921, 188 –190. 32. Cited in Spies, Collages, 281; originally published in Der Ventilator (nos. 1/2, February–March 1919), 5 – 6. Spies identified the author as Ernst, Max Ernst Collages, 35; Vitt suggests Franz Seiwert and Heinrich Hoerle, Auf der Suche nach der Biographie des Kölner Dadisten Johannes Theodor Baargeld, 31. 33. As with many of the later surrealists, de Chirico’s work would have a lasting influence on Ernst; see Arnold Böcklin, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst: Eine Reise ins Ungewisse (1997). See also David Hopkins, “Zurich, Munich and Berlin: Böcklin, de Chirico, Ernst,” Burlington Magazine 140 (February 1998): 142 –144. 34. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” 298. Camfield suggested that Ernst also saw the works of Picabia at this time, leading to his use of mechanical imagery; Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism, 53. 35. Camfield, Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism, 81– 82. 36. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 33 – 34. 37. Werner Spies published many of these images in his first edition of Max Ernst Collagen (1974). Dirk Teuber explored Ernst’s extensive use of this catalog in “Max Ernst’s Lehrmittel,” 206 – 220, and “Bibliotheca Paedagogica— eine Neuerwerbung im Kunstmuseum Bonn,” in Max Ernst Illustrierte Bücher und druckgraphische Werke, exh. cat. (Cologne: Wienand, 1989), 35 – 49. 38. Loni and Lothar Pretzell, “Impressions of Max Ernst from His Homeland,” in Homage to Max Ernst (special issue), XXe Siècle (New York: Tudor, 1971), 6. Although Ernst revealed the catalog’s identity to Lothar Pretzell during the newspaper scandal of 1954, he did not publish this information in his biographical notes until 1963. Max Ernst, “Biographische Notizen,” 24. 39. Ernst also rotated printer’s plates and stamps in his works prior to the discovery of the Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog. 40. Lucy Lippard, “The World of Dadamax Ernst,” Art News 74 (April 1975): 27– 30. 41. Ludger Derenthal, “Mitteilungen über Flugzeuge, Engel und den Weltkrig: Zu den Photocollagen der Dadazeit von Max Ernst,” in Im Blickfeld: Konstrucktionen der Moderne (Hamburg: Christians, 1994), 41– 60. 42. Max Ernst, “Biographische Notizen,” 26; and Camfield, Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism, 57–75. 43. Max Ernst, “Biographische Notizen,” 27. 44. Stefanie Poley, “Max Ernst und Hans Arp, 1914 –1921,” 179–196. 45. Stokes, “Dadamax: Ernst in the Context of Cologne Dada,” 122 –129, and


notes to pages 44 – 47 Camfield, Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism, 47–55. Symbolic birds appeared first in Ernst’s Expressionist works, which Spies dated before the war and Camfield dated to the period immediately after. 46. In an interview with Evan Mauer, Ernst confirmed his early involvement with alchemy, without naming his sources. “In Quest of Myth: An Investigation of the Relationship between Surrealism and Primitivism,” 279. 47. Richard Sheppard, “Dada and Mysticism: Influences and Affinities,” in Dada Spectrum: The Dialectics of Revolt, ed. Stephen C. Foster and Rudolf E. Kuenzli (Madison, Wisc.: Coda, 1979), 92 –113; Timothy Benson, “Mysticism, Materialism and the Machine in Berlin Dada,” Art Journal 46 (Spring 1987): 46 –55. 48. John Elderfield, “Dada: A Code for Saints?” Artforum 12 (February 1974): 46 – 47. 49. Harriett Watts, “Arp, Kandinsky and the Legacy of Jakob Böhme,” in The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890 –1985, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: L.A. County Museum of Art, 1986), 239– 255; see also Ronald Gray, “Jacob Böhme and Alchemy,” in Goethe the Alchemist, 38 –54. Ernst included Goethe, but not Böhme, in his list of favorite poets and painters of the past, published in View (1942), 14 –15. Arp also had a deep and lifelong interest in Taoism. 50. Introduced in Chapter 2, this book was published the year the war broke out and Ernst entered the service, making it unlikely that he read it then. David Hopkins also thinks that Silberer had a significant impact on Ernst, and he analyzes Silberer’s Rosicrucian references as well as the alchemical ones: “Max Ernst’s ‘La Toilette de la mariée,’” 238, and Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst, 55 –56. 51. Silberer also connected Freudian Oedipal theory to alchemical processes, 37– 39, 332. 52. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 15. After four years at the front, Lou thought Max had changed and often withdrew into himself. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” Max Ernst in Köln, 298. 53. These included Baargeld’s self-portrait of 1920 fused to the Aphrodite of Melos, Typische Vertikalverklitterung als Darstellung des Dada Baargeld, and Luise StrausErnst’s collage titled Augustine Thomas et Otto Flake (ca. 1920). Lou combined a woman’s body with the head of a man who looks upward to suspended flayed animal carcasses, which were added by Ernst. In an essay titled “Der Arp,” Ernst referred to a hermaphrodite, a word Silberer used as a variant name for the Androgyne. This essay appeared in a supplement to the Kölner Tagesblatts on December 6, 1921, and is reprinted in Max Ernst in Köln, 85. 54. Peter Heller, “A Quarrel over Bisexuality,” in The Turn of the Century: German Literature and Art, 1890 –1915, ed. Gerald Chappel and Hans H. Schulte (Bonn: Bouvier, 1983), 87–115. Androgynous imagery also existed in Berlin Dada works. Hannah Höch’s androgynous collages generally contain female faces with masculine additions, images that reflected the “New Woman” and explored her own evolving homosexuality. Maud Lavin, Cut with the Kitchen Knife (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 185 – 204. See also Arturo Schwarz, “Alchemy, Androgyny and Visual Artists,” Leonardo 13 (Winter 1980): 57– 62. 55. Klemens Dieckhöfer, “Medizinische Aspekte im Oeuvre von Max Ernst,” in Max Ernst in Köln, 70 –73; Ludger Derenthal, “Muskelmänner und Sternenbilder,” Kunst und Antiquitäten, no. 4 (April 1991): 48 –53. Some of these anatomical models


notes to pages 47 – 55 were repeated in paintings of the early Paris years, and Ernst also used skeletons and entrails in several of his later collages—for example, those in the chapter “Vendredi” in Une Semaine de bonté. 56. Silberer, 200, citing Berthelot’s Les Origines de l’alchimie, p. 60; italics in the original. 57. Silberer, 301, citing Hoefer, Histoire de la chimie, vol. 2, 256 – 259. 58. Similarities between Winter Landscape and Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass (1918 –1923), with its “bride” and mechanized view of sexuality, reinforce an alchemical interpretation of both works, an interpretation that is controversial in Duchampian literature. Spies commented on the similarities between these two works, but doubted that Ernst would have known The Large Glass, as it was still in progress. Earlier, Katherine Dreier visited the Cologne Dada “Bulletin D” exhibition in November 1919 and brought news of Duchamp’s work to Ernst and Baargeld. Max Ernst Collages, 33, 55 –56. On Duchamp’s affinities with hermeticism, see Jack Burnham, “Duchamp’s Bride Stripped Bare,” Arts Magazine 46 (March 1972): 28 – 32; (April 1972): 41– 45; and (May 1972): 58 – 61; Arturo Schwarz, “The Alchemist Stripped Bare in the Bachelor, Even,” Marcel Duchamp, ed. Anne d’Harnoncourt and Kynaston McShine, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1973), 81– 98; John F. Moffitt, “Marcel Duchamp: Alchemist of the Avant-Garde,” in The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890 –1985, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: L.A. County Museum, 1986), 257– 271; David Hopkins, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst; and Linda Henderson, Duchamp in Context (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). 59. Silberer, 350. 60. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, trans. James Strachey (New York: Avon, 1965), 204 – 206, 316 – 317. 61. Silberer, 121. 62. Ibid., 127. 63. Ibid., 131. 64. Ibid., 133. 65. Baargeld created a pen-and-ink drawing on wallpaper titled The Red King (1920), Museum of Modern Art, reproduced in Vitt, 17. Baargeld’s political activism helped support a satirical interpretation of this image, particularly considering Cologne Dada’s attack on Raoul Konen’s nationalistic and reactionary play Der Junge König in 1919. Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 35. Still, the inclusion of the word enfant and the compartmentalizing of the background pattern to suggest a container (vessel) point to the possibility of other alchemical imagery in Baargeld’s Dada works. 66. Giovanni Lacinio, Pretiosa margarita novella de thesauro . . . (Venice, 1546). This woodcut was reprinted in Albert Poisson, Théories et symboles des alchimistes (1891), 111. 67. Johann Daniel Mylius, Philosophia reformata, 1622 (Frankfurt: Lucas Jennis, 1622). See Klossowski de Rola, The Golden Game, fig. 337. 68. The title, similar to that of Fig. 4.4, referred to the hermetic practice of not revealing secrets to the uninitiated. 69. Freud had interpreted dreams of birds and flying as sexual, while also pointing out the linguistic pun in German between Vogel, meaning bird, and Vögeln, a slang word for sexual intercourse. Charlotte Stokes, “Surrealist Persona: Max Ernst’s Loplop, Superior of Birds,” 232. 70. Silberer, 276.


notes to pages 55 – 57 71. This submarine was patterned after an illustration from La Nature, illustrated in Ludger Derenthal, “Max Ernst: Trois tableaux d’amitié,” Les Cahiers du Musée National d’Art Moderne 31 (Spring 1990): 92 – 93. Derenthal interpreted this painting within a recurring theme of double images celebrating his friendships with members of the nascent surrealist group in Paris. The volume from which the submarine illustration was clipped also contained an article on alchemy; A. de Rochas, “L’Or alchimique,” La Nature 14 (May 1886): 339– 343. 72. Silberer, 296. 73. Ibid., 295. 74. Ibid., 105. 75. Ibid., 276. 76. “Max Ernst,” in Das Junge Rheinland 2 (November 2, 1921), reprinted in Jürgen Pech, Dadamax, 1919 –1921, 164 –165. 77. Stefanie Poley, “Max Ernst und Hans Arp, 1914 –1921,” 194 –196. 78. Max Ernst, “Max Ernst,” 164 –165. 79. Geometry was very important to Ernst at this time and in future works, as David Hopkins has shown with Microgramme Arp: 1: 25,000 (1921) and Vox Angelica (1943), in “Geometry and Taxonomy in the Work of Max Ernst,” lecture at the American College Art Association, Washington, D.C., February 23, 1991. 80. Edouard Schuré, The Great Initiates, trans. Gloria Rasberry (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), 265 – 369; Peter Gorman, Pythagoras: A Life (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979); and E. M. Butler, The Myth of the Magus (1948; reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 44 –55. Schuré’s Die grossen Eingeweihten (Leipzig: Altman, 1907) was the first of several German editions. 81. Max Ernst, “Max Ernst,” 165. 82. William Tyler Olcott, Star Lore of All Ages (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911), 363. The numerous small constellations appearing in Ernst’s works of the early 1920s deserve further investigation, although some of his astronomical images have been discussed. Peter Schamoni, Max Ernst, Maximiliana (Munich: Bruckmann, 1974); Ludger Derenthal, “Muskelmänner und Sternenbilder,” 49–53. Dawn Ades found these constellations to be Dadaist critiques of astrology, a spoofing of a formerly held scientific belief, similar to other Dada tirades against tradition. “Dada Stargazers” lecture at the Dadamax Symposium, Museum of Modern Art, March 27, 1993. 83. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” quoted in Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 18. 84. Andreas Vowinckel, “Max Ernst and Dada-Paris,” in Max Ernst in Köln, exh. cat. (1980), 304 – 318; Michel Sanouillet, Dada à Paris (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1965), 248 – 253. In a letter dated December 31, 1919, Ernst sent Tzara his inked handprint with the caption “la Bonne poignée de moi” (S/M 327). Later, in the 1930s, many of the surrealists, including Ernst, would have their palms inked this way and read by the expert palmist and psychologist Dr. Charlotte Wolff. 85. André Breton, Surrealism and Painting (1928), trans. Simon Watson Taylor (London: Macdonald & Co., 1972), 24 – 27; Louis Aragon, “Max Ernst: Peintre des illusions” (1923), reprinted in Les Collages (Paris: Hermani, 1965), 26 – 33. 86. Werner Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 88 – 90; Raoul Schrott, Dada 21/22: Musikalische Fischsuppe mit Reiseeindrücken. Eine Dokumentation über die beiden Dadajahre in Tirol und ein Fortsatz: Gerald Nitsche: Dada und danach (Innsbruck: Haymon, 1988).


notes to pages 58 – 62 87. Elaine Formentelli, “Max Ernst—Paul Eluard ou l’impatience du désir,” Revue des Sciences Humaines 164 (1976): 487–504; Ingrid Jenkner, “The Collaboration of Max Ernst and Paul Eluard: A Surrealist Mode, 1922,” RACAR 7 (1980): 37– 48; Werner Spies, “Une Poétique du collage,” in Paul Eluard et ses amis peintres, 1895 –1952, exh. cat. (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1982), 45 – 69; Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst— Paul Eluard, 1921–1924, exh. cat. (Brühl: Max-Ernst-Kabinett, 1982), 249– 286; JeanCharles Gateau, Paul Eluard et la peinture surréaliste (1910 –1939) (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1982); Dirk Teuber, “Répétitions,” in Max Ernst Illustrierte Bücher und druckgraphische Werke (Cologne: Wienand, 1989), 86; and Sonia Assa, “Of Hairdressers and Kings: Ready-made Revelation in Les Malheurs des immortels,” French Review 64, no. 3 (February 1991): 643 – 658. Répétitions was published by the Galerie Au Sans Pareil, and Les Malheurs des immortels by Librairie Six in a larger edition. 88. Spies, “Une Poétique du collage,” 52 –57. 89. Silberer, 336 – 372. 90. Ibid., 368. 91. Ibid., 339. 92. Ibid., 343. 93. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” in Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 12; Matthew Josephson, Life among the Surrealists (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1962), 176 –181. Ernst moved into the Eluards’ quarters next to the rooms he had shared with Lou and Jimmy.

4. The Occultation of Surrealism 1. Bernard Roger, Paris et l’alchimie (Paris: Alta, 1981). Roger was an active member of the surrealist group. 2. Marguerite Bonnet, André Breton: Naissance de l’aventure surréaliste (Paris: José Corti, 1975), 68; on Rimbaud’s interest in alchemy and magic see Enid Starkie, Arthur Rimbaud (Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1962), 159–178. 3. Hermeticism interested several members of the cubist circle, particularly due to the presence of Giorgio de Chirico. 4. Adrienne Monnier, The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier, trans. Richard McDougall (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976), 86 – 89. Dr. Charlotte Wolff later read Monnier’s palm and classified her among the spiritualists, whom she defined as those “whose metaphysical desires are so strong that for them the spiritual world is invested with greater reality than the materialistic aspects of life.” Charlotte Wolff, Studies in Hand-Reading (London: Chatto & Windus, 1936), 33 – 37. 5. In Nadja (1928), Breton related the strange events surrounding his initial meeting with Paul Eluard. During the intermission of the first performance of Apollinaire’s Couleur du temps, Eluard mistook Breton for a friend killed in the war. Stammering an apology, Eluard excused himself without actually revealing his identity. Through a friend’s introduction they began corresponding with each other a few days later, although neither realized they had already met. Later Eluard came on furlough to meet Breton, who was astonished to recognize him. André Breton, Nadja, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Grove Press, 1960), 26 – 27. 6. Untitled list of preferences, Littérature 3 Année, no. 18 (March 1921): 1–7, 24.


notes to pages 62 – 66 7. “Quelques préférences de . . . ,” Littérature n.s., no. 2 (April 1, 1922): 1– 4. 8. Louis Aragon, “Project d’histoire littéraire contemporaine,” Littérature n.s., no. 4 (September 1, 1922): 3 – 6. 9. André Breton, “Entrée des médiums,” Littérature n.s., no. 6 (November 1, 1922): 1–16. 10. See Sarane Alexandrian, Le Surréalisme et le rêve (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), 103 – 132. Additional accounts, with some inconsistencies, appear in Jacques Baron, L’An I du surréalisme (Paris: Denoël, 1969), 63 – 81; Germaine Everling, L’Anneau de Saturne (Paris: Fayard, 1970), 150 –152; Matthew Josephson, Life among the Surrealists, 213 – 221; René Crevel, “The Period of Sleeping Fits,” This Quarter 5, no. 1, Surrealist Number (September 1932): 181–188; and Dawn Ades, “Between Dada and Surrealism: Painting in the Mouvement flou,” In the Mind’s Eye: Dada and Surrealism, exh. cat. (Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1985), 23 – 41. 11. Before this session, Desnos was convinced that he was incapable of being hypnotized. A few days earlier, he had disrupted the performance of two music-hall hypnotizers, Donato and Bénévol, causing an altercation that nearly resulted in a duel. Alexandrian, Le Surréalisme et le rêve, 122. 12. Duchamp was residing in New York at the time and Desnos had not met him, but all agreed that the resulting poetry was equal to Rrose Sélavy’s standards. 13. In Vitrac’s case this could not have been due to skepticism, given that he was already an amateur follower of occultism; Alexandrian, Le Surréalisme et le rêve, 110, n. 1. 14. Ibid., 120, n. 1. 15. Ibid., 123. 16. Ibid., 116. 17. Although the most intense period of the sommeils concluded by the end of the year, they continued to be held sporadically. Josephson said that he attended séances in early spring 1923. Neighbors rumored that the Eluards’ Eaubonne house, where they moved in the spring of 1923, was the site of “witchcraft sessions, black masses, and orgiastic gatherings,” probably an imaginative description of the séance evenings. Béatrix Blavier, “Max Ernst: Murals for the Home of Paul and Gala Eluard, Eaubonne, 1923” (M.A. thesis, Rice University, 1985), 104. 18. Sanouillet, Dada à Paris, 354 – 356; Alexandrian, Le Surréalisme et le rêve, 72 – 86; Bonnet, André Breton: Naissance de l’aventure surréaliste, 262; and Françoise Will-Levaillant, “L’Analyse des dessins d’aliénés et de médiums en France avant le Surréalisme,” Revue de l’art 50 (1980): 24 – 39. Legge noted contemporary attempts to discredit Richet in Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources, 119. 19. Legge, Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources, 17– 29; Jennifer Ann Gibson, “Surrealism’s Early Maps of the Unconscious” (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1985). 20. Josephson, Life among the Surrealists, 216. Fantômas was the subject of thirtyone serial novels written between 1909 and 1914 by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre. Louis Feuillade directed a serialized film of his adventures in 1913 –1914. 21. This drawing, now in the Bibliothèque Jacques Doucet, is dated 1922 –1928, and cannot be identified as one of the drawings produced during the fall of 1922. More likely, the drawing dates to the late 1920s, when Desnos began looking at manuscripts, as evidenced in his article “Le Mystère d’Abraham Juif,” Documents 5 (1929): 233 – 239.


notes to pages 66 – 74 22. Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst: Au Rendez-vous des amis, exh. cat. (Brühl: Max-ErnstKabinett, 1983). See also Gerd Bauer, “Max Ernsts Gemälde Au Rendez-vous des amis,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 45 (1984): 231– 255; Elizabeth Legge, “Posing Questions: Ernst’s Au Rendez-vous des amis,” Art History 10 (June 1987): 227– 243; Ludger Derenthal, “Max Ernst: Trois tableaux d’amitié,” 72 –110; and Max Ernst: Das Rendezvous der Freunde, exh. cat. (Cologne: Museum Ludwig, 1991). 23. Bauer, “Max Ernsts Gemälde Au Rendez-vous des amis,” 235 – 236. 24. Ibid., 249. 25. Charlotte Stokes, “The Scientific Methods of Max Ernst: His Use of Scientific Subjects from La Nature,” Art Bulletin 62 (September 1980): 454 – 458. 26. Bauer, “Max Ernsts Gemälde Au Rendez-vous des amis,” 240 – 241. 27. Friedrich Lippmann, Die sieben Planeten (Berlin: Amsler & Ruthardt, 1895); Albert P. de Mirimonde, “Les Allégories de la musique,” Gazette des Beaux Arts ser. 6, 73 (May–June 1969): 343 – 362, and Astrologie et musique (Geneva: Editions Minkoff, 1977), 25 –55. Ernst could have encountered Lippmann’s book during his art historical studies in Cologne. A French edition was published the same year. 28. Mirimonde, Astrologie et musique, 14, 40 – 41, 48. Several seventeenth-century “Children of Mercury” prints included details of alchemists and their laboratories. The Housebook Master’s manuscript and the controversies over the identity of its artistic hands are summarized in J. P. Filedt Kok et al., The Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet, or The Housebook Master, c. 1470 –1500 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 41– 64, 281– 224. 29. Ibid., 25, 34, 39– 66. 30. Another comparison is the young boy being spanked in Fig. 4.2 to Ernst’s The Virgin Chastises the Child Jesus before Three Witnesses, André Breton, Paul Eluard and the Painter, 1926 (S/M 1059). 31. Stokes, “The Scientific Methods of Max Ernst,” 456. The eclipse, a visual conjunction of the sun and the moon, has clear alchemical implications that will be explored in the final chapter, “As Above, So Below.” 32. Later in the 1930s, Ernst attended a costume party dressed as Mercury in a fanciful costume complete with winged sandals. Julien Levy, Memoir of an Art Gallery (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1977), 171. 33. A. P. de Mirimonde, “Sous le signe de gémeaux,” L’Oeil 214 (October 1972): 12 –19. In comparing the twins Castor and Pollux to Ernst and Eluard, it should be remembered that their mythical sister was Helen (Gala’s real name), daughter of Leda. H. J. Rose, A Handbook of Greek Mythology (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1959), 230. 34. Derenthal, “Max Ernst: Trois tableaux d’amitié,” 94 – 97. 35. In a 1974 interview with Evan Mauer, Ernst confirmed that this painting was based on alchemical principles; “In Quest of Myth: An Investigation of the Relationship between Surrealism and Primitivism,” 279. Geoffrey Hinton connected the painting to alchemy but also described its Freudian associations, particularly the Schreber case; “Max Ernst: ‘Les Hommes n’en Sauront Rien,’” 292 – 299. 36. Nadja amazed Breton with her knowledge of the painting’s enigmatic symbols; Nadja, 129. 37. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 34. 38. Amédée Guillemin, The Heavens, trans. J. Norman Lockyer (London: Richard Bentley, 1872), 149. Ernst obviously used a French edition of this book, possibly


notes to pages 75 – 81 Guillemin’s Le Soleil, 1883. Legge identified a cropped version of a similar diagram that had appeared in Camille Flammarion’s Astronomie populaire (1880) as the source for this painting. Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources, 102. These astronomical illustrations and diagrams were frequently recycled by French and English publishers during this period, making it difficult to determine the exact edition he used. 39. This diagram was later published by Pierre Mabille, “Notes sur le symbolisme,” Minotaure 3, no. 8 (1936): 2. 40. Lippard identified the flesh-colored objects in several paintings of this period as biomorphic unisex symbols; “The World of Dadamax Ernst,” 28. 41. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 29, and “Au delà de la peinture,” 13 –14. 42. Memory of God has been analyzed in terms of its Freudian symbolism. Because of the pointed ears and long nose, Gee connected this painting to Freud’s analysis of the Wolf Man case; “Max Ernst, God, and the Revolution by Night,” 90. 43. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 29. 44. Legge suggested that two other illustrations from Lévi may have prompted Ernst to fuse the floating legs in Of This Men Shall Know Nothing; see Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources, figs. 25, 26. Lévi’s text, originally published in French in 1860, was published in a new edition by Félix Alcan in 1922. Citations here are from the English translation, Eliphas Lévi [Alphonse Louis Constant], History of Magic, trans. Arthur Edward Waite (London: Rider, 1922), 45. 45. Ernst later reworked this image into a painting titled Woman, Old Man, and Flower II (S/M 660). Russell suggested that Ernst changed the original painting because it was too autobiographical; Max Ernst, Life and Work, 72 –73. Ernst informed the curatorial staff at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, that he destroyed the original before making the final version. 46. Ernst was inspired to create this painting after hearing a lecture by Jarry in 1923; Waldberg, Max Ernst, 38. See also Stefanie Poley, “Die Bildquellen zu Sainte Cécile und Ubu Imperator von Max Ernst,” Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Kunst Sammlungen in BadenWürttemberg 10 (1973): 89– 98. 47. “Erutarettil,” Littérature, nos. 11–12 (October 15, 1923): 24 – 25. Other names on this page include: Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, France’s outstanding mystical philosopher; Adam Miçkiéwicz, the Romantic Polish poet, occultist, and revolutionary; and Gérard de Nerval, who was deeply influenced by alchemy and other areas of the occult. 48. Littérature, nos. 11–12 (October 15, 1923): somnambulism, 3, 41; crystal gazing, 21; levitation, 22; palm reading, 36. See S/M 532, 533, 546, 564, and 597, and related drawings. 49. Littérature, nos. 11–12 (October 15, 1923), 15; “Portrait of Robert Desnos” (S/M 526). Desnos’s gesture was based on an illustration from La Nature demonstrating the principle of inertia. Max Ernst: Frottagen Collagen Zeichnungen Graphik Bücher, exh. cat. (Zurich: Kunsthaus, 1978), 84. Another drawing not reproduced in this issue of Littérature also could be analyzed alchemically—“Man and Woman” (S/M 589), in which disembodied heads (Gala and Max? or Eluard?) float in transparent test tubes half-filled with liquid, as if within an alchemical vessel. 50. G. Phaneg, Cinquante merveilles secrets d’alchimie (Paris: Chacornac, 1912), 76 –79. These images originally appeared in Giambattista della Porta, De distillationibus, libri


notes to pages 83 – 91 IX (Strasbourg, 1609). The central embracing couple in this illustration could be compared to Ernst’s Qui est ce grand malade . . . (S/M 657), as well as Long Live Love (S/M 616). 51. Patrick Waldberg, Max Ernst: Peintures pour Paul Eluard (Paris: Denoël, 1969), 5 –16. See also Béatrix Blavier, “Max Ernst: Murals for the Home of Paul and Gala Eluard, Eaubonne, 1923.” Although Ernst was not involved with the removal, restoration, or titling of these paintings, he authenticated them. 52. Blavier, “Max Ernst: Murals,” 187. 53. Josephson, Life among the Surrealists, 179. 54. Gateau, Paul Eluard et la peinture surréaliste (1910 –1939), 83 – 90; Chantal Vieuille, Gala (Paris: Favre, 1988), 67–71; and Charles G. Whiting, “Eluard’s Poems for Gala,” French Review 16 (February 1968): 505 –517. 55. Max Ernst, “Notes pour une biographie,” 48. 56. Max Ernst, “Die Frommen Riefen Dreimal Pfui,” Spiegel 9 (February 23, 1970): 156 –161. 57. The first version of this autobiographical statement was published in English in “Inspiration to Order,” This Quarter 5 (September 1932): 79– 85. It was followed by an amended French version, “Comment on force l’inspiration,” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 6 (May 15, 1933): 43 – 45, later appearing in “Au delà de la peinture,” 16 – 20. An overview of these works can be found in Werner Spies, Max Ernst Frottages, trans. Joseph Bernstein (London: Thames & Hudson, 1986). 58. Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst: “Histoire Naturelle” Frottagen, exh. cat. (Cologne: MaxErnst-Kabinett, 1983); Elizabeth Legge, “Zeuxis’s Grapes, Novalis’s Fossils, Freud’s Flowers: Max Ernst’s Natural History,” Art History 16 (March 1993): 147–172. 59. Legge suggests that The Sea and the Rain represented the alchemical task of “squaring the circle”; “Zeuxis’s Grapes,” 147. 60. This illustration was reprinted in Albert Poisson, Théories et symboles des alchimistes (1891), 53. 61. Legge interpreted this image as related to the mystical eye of Jacob Böhme’s female principle, Sophia, fused to the eye of Gala Eluard. “Zeuxis’s Grapes,” 152 – 154. 62. M. C. Poinsot, Encyclopédie des sciences occultes (Paris: Editions Georges-Anquetil, 1925), 128 –129. 63. “Notes pour une biographie,” Ecritures, 55 –56. 64. Ibid. 65. André Breton, “Manifeste du surréalisme” (1924), in Manifestes du surréalisme (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1962), 32, 44, 56. 66. André Breton, “Poisson soluble” (1924), in Manifestes du surréalisme, 67–139. 67. Richard Danier, ���André Breton et l’hermétisme alchimique,” Question de 2 (1976): 47. 68. André Breton, “Idées d’un peintre,” in Les Pas perdus (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1924), 105 –110. 69. André Breton, “Lettre aux voyantes,” La Révolution surréaliste 1 (October 15, 1925): 20 – 22. 70. Ibid., 20. 71. In La Révolution surréaliste 2, no. 8 (December 1, 1926): 16 –18. This article was dedicated to Breton and illustrated with Ernst’s The Virgin Chastises the Infant Jesus in


notes to pages 92 – 96 Front of Three Witnesses. Alchemy was a recurring theme throughout Artaud’s writing, particularly evident in his scenario for La Coquille et le Clergyman; Bettina Knapp, “Artaud: A New Type of Magic,” Yale French Studies 31 (May 1964): 87– 98. See also Antonin Artaud, “Le Théâtre alchimique,” in Le Théâtre et son double (Paris: Gallimard, 1966), 71–78, and Inez Hedges, Languages of Revolt (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1983), 27– 33. Hedges also discussed the alchemical symbolism in Breton’s Nadja, 23 – 27. 72. “Entrée des succubes,” La Révolution surréaliste 2, no. 6 (March 1, 1926): 10 –13. 73. Breton, Nadja, 79– 81, 105. 74. Excerpts had appeared in La Révolution surréaliste no. 4 (July 15, 1925); no. 6 (March 1, 1926); no. 7 (June 15, 1926); and nos. 9–10 (October 1, 1927). 75. Breton, Surrealism and Painting, 17. 76. Ibid., 23. 77. Ibid., 30 – 32. This mystic Spanish poet had been adopted by the alchemists as an important theorist and practitioner. 78. Fulcanelli, Le Mystère des cathédrales (1926) and Les Demeures philosophales (1930). 79. Jacques Baron recalled that the “laboratory” of early surrealism had been special areas of Paris, including the neighborhood of the Tour Saint Jacques. He indicated that their frequenting of this neighborhood was rather early in the 1920s, L’An I du surréalisme suivi de l’an dernier, 77. 80. Giorgio de Chirico, Hebdomeros, trans. Margaret Crosland (London: Peter Owen, 1964); Renée Riese Hubert, “The Fabulous Fictions of Two Surrealist Artists: Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst,” New Literary History 4, no. 1 (Autumn 1972): 151–166. 81. Desnos, “Le Mystère d’Abraham Juif,” 233 – 239. 82. James is the English name of the saint called Saint Jacques in France and Santiago in Spain. 83. Desnos, “Le Mystère d’Abraham Juif,” 236. 84. The late appearance of these engravings in the early seventeenth century has led scholars to question aspects of the Flamel myth. See Claude Gagnon, Nicolas Flamel sous investigation (Québec: Editions de Loup de Gouttière, 1994). 85. The original manuscript has disappeared, but there are later copies, including the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal manuscripts nos. 2518 and 3047, and the eighteenthcentury version from which these plates were taken, Explication des figures hiéroglyphiques . . . , Bibliothèque Nationale, Manuscrit français 14,765, plates 1, 6, and 7. The illustrations are “The Massacre of the Innocents,” “The Battle between Saturn and Mercury,” and “The Processes of the Work,” indicated by three riders on horseback. 86. Quartier Beaubourg: Saint Jacques, Saint Martin, Saint Merri, introduction by Blaise Gautier, exh. cat. (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1977). 87. Desnos, “Le Mystère d’Abraham Juif,” 237. 88. Ibid. 89. This devil was probably the source for Ernst’s frottage, But at This Moment the Apocalyptic Beast Was Death . . . , an illustration for René Crevel’s Mr. Knife and Miss Fork, 1931 (S/M 1730). While alchemists were persecuted for being charlatans and alchemy was banned on the grounds of prohibiting illegal currency, alchemy was never persecuted as heresy. Still, its Arabic/Egyptian origins and its connection to diverse heretical currents such as Gnosticism, the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Port-Royal


notes to pages 96 – 102 Jansenists, and Haitian voodoo would have appealed to Ernst, Breton, and their friends, a group strongly critical of Europe’s “capitalist-Christian civilization.” 90. The salamander was used as a personal symbol by François I (1494 –1547). Its ability to live in fire was legendary, and alchemists adopted it as a symbol for fire. Poisson, Théories et symboles des alchimistes, 55, 116 –117, and 155. 91. Werner Hofmann, “Max Ernst and Tradition,” Max Ernst: Inside the Sight, exh. cat. (Houston: Rice University, 1973), 13. 92. Poisson, Théories et symboles des alchimistes, 98 –104. 93. This photograph was reproduced later in Breton’s L’Amour fou and Arcane XVII. Brassaï’s [Gyula Halász] photographs record this quartier of Paris and its inhabitants, including a palm reader and her tarot card layout, in The Secret Paris of the 30s, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Pantheon Books, 1976). 94. Flamand, La Tour Saint Jacques, 12 – 33. 95. Christopher Hohler, “The Badge of Saint James,” in Ian Cox, ed., The Scallop: Studies of a Shell and Its Influence on Humankind (London: Shell Transport & Trading Co., 1957), 48 –70. 96. Brian Tate and Marcus Tate, The Pilgrim Route to Santiago (Oxford: Phaidon, 1987), 9–10; Walter Fitzwilliam Starkie, The Road to Santiago: Pilgrims of St. James (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965); Raymond Oursel, Les Pélerins du Moyen Age (Paris: Fayard, 1963). 97. Edwin Mullins, The Pilgrimage to Santiago (New York: Taplinger, 1974), 2 – 3. 98. These paintings also may have been influenced by the shells of James Ensor and Odilon Redon. Günter Metken, “Les Fleurs-Coquillages de Max Ernst,” Gazette des Beaux Arts ser. 6, 83 (February 1974): 121–125. Another comparison can be made to solar flares, reproduced in Amédée Guillemin, Le Soleil (Paris: Hachette, 1883), 225, further underscoring its alchemical meaning. 99. It is important to remember that a good number of surrealists evinced little or no interest in alchemy: Naville, Morise, Noll, Gérard, Aragon, Queneau, Thirion, and the Baron brothers. Even after the Second Manifesto, Pastoureau, the Martiniquans (Léro, Monnerot, Ménil, et al., and later the Césaires), Paalen, Caillois, and even Péret were not especially attracted to this particular path of surrealist research, another indication of surrealism’s fundamental diversity. 100. “La Monade hieroglyphique, de John Dee (traduit du latin par Grillot de Givry),” La Révolution surréaliste, nos. 9–10 (October 1, 1927): 61– 63. 101. Michel Leiris, “Notes sur deux figures microcosmiques des XIVe et XVe siècles,” Documents 1 (1929): 48 –52. Leiris found these illustrations in Fritz Saxl, Verzeichnis astrologischer und mythologischer illustrierte Handscriften des lateinischen Mittelalters (Heidelberg: Carl Winters, 1927). The first edition appeared in 1915. 102. André Breton, “Second manifeste du surréalisme,” La Révolution surréaliste 5, no. 12 (December 15, 1929): 1–17. 103. Ibid., 13. 104. Georges Henri Rivière, “A propos d’Abraham Juif,” Documents 7 (December 1929): 384. 105. Breton, “Second manifeste du surréalisme,” 14. 106. Ibid., 13. 107. Ibid., 13 –14.


notes to pages 102 – 107 108. Ibid., 14. 109. Ibid., 14 –15. Breton’s mention of cryptesthesia reveals his continued interest in the psychological-hermetic studies of Charles Richet, an interest he passed on to Yves Tanguy; see Jennifer V. Mundy, “Tanguy, Titles and Mediums,” Art History 6, no. 2 (June 1983): 199– 213. 110. James Webb, The Occult Establishment (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1976); Michael Howard, The Occult Conspiracy (Rochester, Vt.: Destiny Books, 1989). 111. I am grateful to Franklin Rosemont for his thoughts on these connections. See André Breton, What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings. 112. Max Ernst, “Danger de pollution,” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 3 (1931): 22 – 25.

5. Collage as Alchemy 1. The most complete survey is Werner Spies, Max Ernst Collages. Ernst credited the prints of Max Klinger as first influencing his collages; see Edouard Roditi’s interview “Max Ernst” (1960), in More Dialogues on Art (Santa Barbara, Calif.: RossErikson, 1984), 55. 2. Charlotte Stokes, “Collage as Jokework: Freud’s Theories of Wit as the Foundation for the Collages of Max Ernst,” 199– 204, and “Sisters and Birds: Meaningful Symbols in the Work of Max Ernst,” in Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art, vol. 3, ed. Mary Mathews Gedo (Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 1988), 129–146. 3. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. See Chapter 1 herein for a fuller discussion. 4. Carlo Sala, “Les Collages de Max Ernst et la mise en question des apparences,” Europe 46, nos. 475 – 476 (November–December 1968): 131–140. 5. Lucy Lippard, “Dada into Surrealism: Notes on Max Ernst as ProtoSurrealist,” Artforum 5 (September 1966): 15. 6. Letter from Max Ernst to Tristan Tzara, undated, but probably November 1920, reproduced in Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 271. 7. Breton said these works consisted of a mixture of collage, photography, and overpainting; Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 259, n. 490. 8. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 31. 9. Aragon, “Max Ernst, peintre des illusions,” 26 – 33; André Breton, Surrealism and Painting, 26. 10. Louis Aragon, La Peinture au défi, exh. cat. (Paris: Librairie José Corti, 1930), 21– 23; Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 32. 11. Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 88 – 89. 12. Letter from Max Ernst to Tristan Tzara, October 1921, reproduced in Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 272. 13. Stokes, “The Scientific Methods of Max Ernst: His Use of Scientific Subjects from La Nature,” 453 – 465. For the development of wood engravings in nineteenth-century periodicals, see Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Collage Novel, Une Semaine de bonté: Feuilleton Sources and Alchemical Interpretation,” 69–116. Naville selected La Nature as the model for La Révolution surréaliste precisely because of its old-


notes to pages 107 – 110 fashioned, conservative look, which contrasted so completely with avant-garde publications. 14. Werner Spies, “Une Poétique du collage,” 45 – 69. 15. Ernst later superimposed a bellows onto a male figure lifted from La Nature to create an alchemical portrait of Robert Desnos (S/M 526); see Werner Spies, “Die ‘gepausten Collagen,’” in “Einführung,” in Max Ernst: Frottagen Collagen Zeichnungen Graphik Bücher, exh. cat. (Zurich: Kunsthaus, 1978), 84. 16. Originally titled “Irregularities in the Terminator of Venus,” in Guillemin, The Heavens, 80. As with other frequently recycled astronomical imagery, identification of Ernst’s exact source book is difficult to pinpoint. This collage was reproduced in the Little Review (Autumn–Winter 1923 –1924): 9. 17. It also reinforces the comparison between the whistle in that painting and the bellows in this collage as instruments to fan and heat the alchemical furnace. 18. Roland Penrose, Max Ernst’s Celebes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1972), 14; see Spies, Max Ernst Collages, ills. 636, 637. 19. Two pages of photocollages, S/M 1392 and S/M 1393, and five vignettes announcing his novel La Femme 100 têtes appeared in the Brussels periodical Variétés in June 1929; Spies, Max Ernst Collages, ills. 259– 265. 20. La Révolution surréaliste, no. 12 (December 15, 1929), L’Esprit de Locarno, 23; Nostradamus, Blanche de Castille et le petit Saint-Louis, 48, and Jeanne Hachette et Charles le Téméraire, 59. The name of the intended series was Morceaux choisis de l’histoire de France; Spies, Max Ernst Collages, ills. 266 – 268, 127. 21. Charlotte Stokes, “The Statue’s Toe— The Nineteenth-Century Academic Nude as Eros in the Work of Max Ernst,” Pantheon 47 (1989): 166 –172. 22. Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 209– 248; Renée Riese Hubert, “The Fabulous Fiction of Two Surrealist Artists: Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst,” 151–166. 23. Werner Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 216. For a review of the roman-feuilleton literary tradition and associated illustrations, see Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Collage Novel, Une Semaine de bonté: Feuilleton Sources and Alchemical Interpretation,” 34 –116. 24. André Breton, “Avis au lecteur,” in La Femme 100 têtes (1929; reprint, Paris: Editions de l’Oeil, 1956), 49. 25. Breton, “Avis au lecteur,” 50. 26. Werner Spies provided many insightful comments on these novels, but cautioned against overinterpretation of the images; Max Ernst Collages, 209– 248. Gerd Bauer echoed these warnings while at the same time offering his observations on the narrative structure of Ernst’s first collage novel. “Wie liest man einen Collageroman? Zu Max Ernsts ‘La femme 100 têtes,’” in Max Ernst: Illustrierte Bücher und Druckgraphische Werke (Cologne: Wienand, 1989), 51–73. 27. Charlotte Stokes, “La Femme 100 têtes, by Max Ernst” (Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 1977); M. E. Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Collage Novel, Une Semaine de bonté: Feuilleton Sources and Alchemical Interpretation.” 28. Charlotte Stokes, “La Femme 100 têtes, by Max Ernst.” 29. Charlotte Stokes, “Sisters and Birds,” 135 –146; Claudia Loyall, “‘Perturbation, ma soeur, La femme 100 têtes,’ ‘La femme 100 têtes,’ ‘Marceline-Marie’: Allegorien der Kunst im Werk von Max Ernst” (M.A. thesis, Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversität, Munich, 1988). 30. Evan Mauer, “Images of Dream and Desire: The Prints and Collage Novels


notes to pages 110 – 117 of Max Ernst,” in Max Ernst: Beyond Surrealism, exh. cat. (New York: New York Public Library, 1986), 63. 31. Gerd Bauer, “Wie liest man einen Collageroman? Zu Max Ernsts ‘La femme 100 têtes,’” 51–73. 32. Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst: “Das Karmelienmädchen,” exh. cat. (Brühl: Max-ErnstKabinett, 1986); Mauer, “Images of Dream and Desire: The Prints and Collage Novels of Max Ernst,” 70 –79. 33. Charlotte Stokes, “La Femme 100 têtes, by Max Ernst,” 29, 34; Inez Hedges, Languages of Revolt, 15 – 23. 34. Although headless women appeared in Ernst’s works in Cologne, an alchemical sculpture known as “La Femme sans Tête” had existed in Paris at least since the seventeenth century. A study of the city mentioned a sculpture of a headless woman holding a glass vessel in her hand, located at the northern end of the rue Le Regattier. Eugène Canseliet, “La Femme sans Tête,” in Alchimie, 59– 68. This essay originally appeared in the periodical Atlantis in February 1934. 35. Illustrated in Werner Spies, Max Ernst Loplop, 83 – 85. 36. Hedges illustrated both of these collages and compared them to an engraving from Basil Valentine’s Twelve Keys. She compared another engraving from the Twelve Keys to the collage captioned “unlimited meetings and robust effervescences in the wheel known as Poison” (S/M 1483), and a woodcut from Salomon Trismosin’s La Toyson d’or to the collage titled Open Your Bag, My Good Man (S/M 1469); see Languages of Revolt, 17– 20. 37. Charlotte Stokes, “From the Edges of Floating Worlds: Meaning in Max Ernst’s Collages,” Arts Magazine 61 (April 1987): 40. 38. Derenthal, “Muskelmänner und Sternenbilder,” 51–52. 39. Ernst’s novels also bear some comparison to the hermetic novels by JollivetCastelot about a young man and his sister, Au Carmel: Roman mystique and Destin, ou le fils d’Hermes (discussed in Chapter 2). 40. Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst: “A l’intérieur de la vue,” exh. cat. (Brühl: Max-ErnstKabinett, 1987); Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 128, 262, n. 668. These eight “visible poems” were later published in 1947, without the artist’s oversight, in a book of poetry by Paul Eluard. 41. This object is reproduced in André Breton: La Beauté convulsive, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1991), 284. Kirsten Powell discusses this object and other surrealist hand imagery, although she mistakenly describes the gloves as black and white. “Hands-On Surrealism,” Art History 20 (December 1997): 516 –533. 42. The illustration reproduced here is from an English edition, while Ernst used one with French captions. Guillemin’s Le Soleil, 1883, contains the French version as its frontispiece, as well as the illustration of eclipse theory (Fig. 4.5), discussed earlier as a source for Of This Men Shall Know Nothing (Fig. 4.4). Another illustration in the series (S/M 1816) appeared in Camille Flammarion, Astronomie populaire (Paris: C. Marpon & E. Flammarion, 1890), 585. 43. The wood engraving depicted a scientific experiment that formed a crater when a current of air was passed over a molten alloy, thus supporting a theory concerning the formation of lunar craters. Jules Bergeron, “Formation des cratères de la lune,” La Nature 10, no. 486 (September 23, 1882): 272.


notes to pages 120 – 128 44. M. E. Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Collage Novel, Une Semaine de bonté: Feuilleton Sources and Alchemical Interpretation” (Ph.D. diss.), and M. E. Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Alchemical Novel: Une Semaine de bonté,” Art Journal 46 (Spring 1987): 61–73. 45. Dieter Wyss, Der Surrealismus (Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider, 1950), 63 –75; Werner Spies, Max Ernst Collages, 209– 240; Werner Spies, “Die Semaine de Bonté unseres Jahrhunderts,” in Max Ernst: Jenseits der Malerei—Das graphische Oeuvre, exh. cat. (Hanover: Kestner Museum, 1972), n.p.; and Gerd Bauer, “Max Ernsts Collageroman, Une Semaine de bonté,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 39 (1977): 237– 257. 46. Constructed in 1933, this novel was printed in a limited edition by the Galerie Jeanne Bucher and published serially throughout 1934. The first two chapters, “Dimanche” and “Lundi,” were dated April 15 and 16, respectively. The third and fourth chapters, “Mardi” and “Mercredi,” appeared on July 2. The final three chapters, “Jeudi,” “Vendredi,” and “Samedi,” were combined into a single volume dated December 1. 47. The base illustration was taken from Emile Richebourg, L’Enfant du faubourg, liv. 29 (Paris: Roy, 1881), 225. 48. Grillot de Givry, Musée des sorciers, 378. 49. Eduard Trier, “Homage to Loplop,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 34 – 39; Günter Metken, “Sich die Kunst vom Leib halten”; Thomas Gaehtgens, “Das ‘Märchen von Schöpfertum des Künstlers’: Anmerkungen zu den Selbstbildnissen Max Ernsts und zu Loplop,” 43 –78; Werner Spies, Max Ernst—Loplop, 1983; Charlotte Stokes, “Surrealist Persona: Max Ernst’s Loplop, Superior of Birds.” 50. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 51. Grillot de Givry, Musée des sorciers, 384. The connection between Ernst’s plant figures and his wife Marie-Berthe Aurenche will be discussed in Chapter 6. 52. Lucy Lippard, “Max Ernst and a Sculpture of Fantasy,” Art International 11, no. 2 (February 1967): 37– 44; René de Solier, “Max Ernst’s Sculpture,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 127–131; Max Ernst: The Sculpture (Edinburgh: Themis Visual Arts, 1992); Eduard Trier, “Max Ernst und die Plastik des Surrealismus,” in Schriften zu Max Ernst (Cologne: Wienand, 1993), 66 – 89; Max Ernst: Sculture ⫽ sculptures, exh. cat. (Milan: Charta, 1996); and Werner Spies, Max Ernst: Sculptures, maisons, paysages, exh. cat. (Paris: Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, 1998). 53. During this summer vacation, Ernst briefly met Carl Jung, who would begin to lecture on alchemy at Eranos the following year (1935). According to Werner Spies, they did not talk at any length, and, as mentioned earlier, like many other surrealists, Ernst considered Jung to be rather reactionary. Werner Spies, Max Ernst, 1950 –1970: The Return of La Belle Jardinière, 42. Concerning Jung’s connection to Silberer and his interest in alchemy by the early 1930s, see Luther H. Martin, “A History of the Psychological Interpretations of Alchemy,” 16. 54. Max Ernst, Ecritures, 58; Sarah Wilson, “Max Ernst and England,” in Max Ernst, exh. cat. (London: Tate Gallery, 1991), 371, n. 7. A cast of this stone was illustrated in Johannes auf der Lake, Skulpturen von Max Ernst: Aesthetische Theorie und Praxis (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1986), ills. 7, 58 –59. The cast was not reproduced in the Spies/Metken catalog. 55. Roland Penrose, Scrap Book, 1900 –1981 (New York: Rizzoli, 1981), 34 – 35. In an interview with the author on September 23, 1982, Penrose stated that alchemy was often discussed in surrealist circles at the time.


notes to pages 130 – 136 56. Michael Lloyd, “Lunar Asparagus by Ernst (1935) and Lake Sentani,” Gazette des Beaux Arts ser. 6, 106 (October 1985): 137–140. A variant of this sculpture, titled Soul Mates (1961), was reproduced by René de Solier, “Max Ernst’s Sculpture,” 129. 57. Günter Metken, “Zwischen Europa und Amerika,” Max Ernst Retrospektive, exh. cat. (Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1979), 92. 58. Charlotte Stokes, “The Thirteenth Chair: Max Ernst’s Capricorn,” Arts Magazine 62 (October 1987): 88 – 93. 59. Jeffrey Spalding, “Concrete Irrationality: The Surrealist Sculpture of Max Ernst,” Max Ernst from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Ernst, exh. cat. (Calgary, Alberta: Glenbow Museum, 1979), 10 –13. 60. “Recherches expérimentales,” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 6 (May 15, 1933): 10 –12. 61. Benjamin Péret, “Au Paradis des Fantômes,” Minotaure 1, nos. 3 – 4 (1933): 29– 35. 62. Georges Hugnet, “Petite rêverie du grand veneur,” Minotaure 2, no. 5 (1934): 30. 63. Charlotte Wolff, “Les Révélations psychiques de la main,” Minotaure 2, no. 6 (Winter 1935): 38 – 44. 64. For Wolff ’s analysis of Ernst’s palm print, see her Studies in Hand-Reading, 99–100. 65. Pierre Mabille, “Préface à l’éloge des préjugés Populaires,” Minotaure 2, no. 6 (Winter 1935): 1– 3. 66. Pierre Mabille, “Notes sur le symbolisme,” 1– 3. This article contained an illustration (Fig. 4.6) also reproduced by Silberer and discussed here in Chapter 4. 67. Pierre Menard, “Analyse de l’écriture de Lautréamont,” and Pierre Mabille, “Le Ciel de Lautréamont,” Minotaure 4, nos. 12 –13 (1939): 83 – 85. 68. Albert Béguin, “L’Androgyne,” Minotaure 4, no. 11 (1938): 10 –13, 66. 69. Robert Knott, “The Myth of the Androgyne,” Artforum 14 (November 1975): 38 – 45. 70. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 28. 71. Ibid., 38. 72. Ibid. 73. André Breton, “L’Objet fantôme,” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 3 (December 1931): 21.

6. The Alchemical Androgyne: Ernst and the Women in His Life 1. Sigmund Freud, Leonardo da Vinci: A Study in Psychosexuality, trans. A. A. Brill (New York: Vintage, 1947), 53. 2. “Extract of a Letter from Joë Bousquet, Poet, to the Nymph Echo,” in At Eye Level—Paramyths, exh. cat. (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Copley Galleries, 1949), 11–12. 3. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 14. 4. Ibid., 16. 5. Penelope Rosemont, ed., Surrealist Women: An International Anthology (Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1998), xxix–lvii, 3 –13, 41–50. For Simone Breton, Gala Eluard, and Elsa Triolet see also Unda Hörner, Die realen Frauen der Surrealisten (Mannheim: Bollmann, Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, 1996).


notes to pages 137 – 140 6. Penelope Rosemont, Surrealist Women, xxxvi. 7. Karin von Maur, “Max Ernst und seine Huldigung an Violette Nozière,” Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen in Baden-Württemberg 16 (1979): 145 –152. 8. For an overview of this debate, see Suzanne Labry, “La Femme, l’amour, la poésie au XXe siècle,” Europe 42, nos. 427– 428 (November–December 1964): 85 – 93; Renée Riese Hubert, “Surrealist Women Painters, Feminist Portraits,” Dada/Surrealism 13 (1984): 70 – 82; Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement (New York: Little, Brown, 1985); Mary Ann Caws, Rudolf E. Kuenzli, and Gwen Raaberg, eds., Surrealism and Women (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991); Renée Riese Hubert, Magnifying Mirrors (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994); and Robert Belton, The Beribboned Bomb (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1995). For a critique of American feminists writing on surrealism, see Guy Ducornet, Le Punching-Ball et la vache à lait: La Critique universitaire nord-américaine face au surréalisme (Angers: Deleatur, 1992), 103 –126. 9. The degree of interaction between surrealist women artists and their male colleagues varies. Some women artists felt alienated from the movement and its principles, as Chadwick discussed. Others, such as Dorothea Tanning, resisted feminist interpretations of their work and their positions within the movement, as discussed by Hubert, Magnifying Mirrors, 23 – 27. 10. Robert Benayoun compared the hermetic Androgyne to surrealist erotic imagery and found other connections between alchemical and surrealist imagery. Erotique du surréalisme (Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1965), 9, 15, 22 – 23. 11. He gave the date as May 14, 1906, which would make his age fifteen years, one month, and twelve days. Max Ernst’s response was recorded during the “Cinquième séance,” in Recherches sur la sexualité: Janvier 1928 –Août 1932, annotated by José Pierre (Paris: Gallimard, 1990), 116. Alma was probably the neighbor and sister of one of his friends; discussed by Waldberg, Max Ernst, 46. 12. Letter from Balke to Werner Spies, May 4, 1970, in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 66 – 67. Ernst mentioned Agnes L., the daughter of a policeman, from his student days in Bonn, with whom he “drank the joys of love, and the certainty of loving each other, to the dregs.” “Une Enquête sur l’amour,” La Révolution surréaliste, no. 12 (1929), quoted in Max Ernst, Tate Gallery (1991), 307. 13. Max Ernst, “Souvenirs rhénans,” 10. 14. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 295 – 302. Trier placed their meeting on November 5, 1912; “Was Max Ernst studiert hat,” in Max Ernst in Köln, 65. Jimmy Ernst said that they met early in 1913; A Not-So-Still Life, 12. 15. Luise Straus, Zur Entwicklung des zeichnerischen Stils in der Cölner Goldschmiedekunst des XII Jahrhunderts (Strassburg: Heitz & Mündel, 1917). It is tempting to speculate that Lou discovered some information on medieval alchemists in the course of her research on goldsmiths. 16. As discussed in Chapter 3, “Initiation,” Jimmy Ernst (A Not-So-Still Life, 15) used the term introversion to describe his father’s fluctuating moods during this period, the same term that Silberer borrowed from Jung to compare to the first processes of alchemy. Lou also described the change in his personality after the war; “Nomadengut,” in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 298.


notes to pages 140 – 151 17. Hands combined with glasses or glass bottles are found in some collages of this period (S/M 459, S/M 460), and later in La Femme 100 têtes. See Stokes, The Scientific Methods of Max Ernst, 460. 18. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 18. 19. While it is difficult to determine whether this whiskered sea mammal is male or female, it should be remembered that in Ernst’s first autobiographical statement, published in Das Junge Rheinland (November 2, 1921), he stated, “Those suffering from palsy and shipwreck can always rely on him for depth soundings and information on cold coastal waters.” Quoted from Camfield, 103. 20. It was attributed to Luise Straus in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 290. 21. Lippard, “The World of Dadamax Ernst,” 27– 30. 22. Ernst’s headless women have received some feminist criticism. Often paired with horned or phallic male figures, they both promote and parody a polarized view of sexuality. 23. This account of Gala’s early life was summarized largely from Vieuille, Gala. 24. Ibid., 19. 25. Ibid., 51. 26. Max Ernst’s response was recorded in the “Cinquième séance,” in Recherches sur la sexualité: Janvier 1928 –Août 1932, 117. 27. Luise Straus-Ernst, “Nomadengut,” in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 298, and Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 18. 28. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 19. 29. This photograph, dated ca. 1925, is included in Roger-Jean Ségalat, Album Eluard (Paris: La Pléiade, 1968), 88. 30. The photograph was one of a series taken by Man Ray soon after his arrival from America, after meeting Paul and Gala at a small dinner in his honor at the Certâ Bar. Although it has been asserted that Gala seduced Man Ray, he claimed that he talked to her because she was one of the few members of the group who spoke English. Man Ray, Self Portrait (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), 108. 31. For example, S/M 681. Eluard used twenty-one of Ernst’s portraits of Gala to illustrate his Capitale de la douleur / Au défaut du silence (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1926). 32. As proposed above, the woman that Ernst “loved violently” was Gala. See Max Ernst, “Cinquième séance,” in Recherches sur la sexualité: Janvier 1928 –Août 1932, 117. 33. Silberer, 53. 34. Dorothea Tanning, Birthday (Santa Monica, Calif.: Lapis, 1986), 40. 35. In letters written ca. May 25 – 27, 1927, Paul described the altercation to a vacationing Gala, vowed never to see Ernst again, and urged Gala not to write to him. Paul Eluard, Lettres à Gala, 1924 –1948 (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), 18 – 22. 36. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 37. 37. Russell noted that Ernst’s return to the figure and many new themes during this period coincided with their relationship; Max Ernst, Life and Work, 101–102. 38. Waldberg, Max Ernst, 259– 266. 39. Around 1925, he obtained the right to remain in France, thanks to the intercession of Marie Laurencin, probably after returning from Indochina and before visiting Lou and Jimmy in Cologne in that year. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 30.


notes to pages 151 – 156 40. Published in Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution, no. 5 (May 15, 1933): 53. 41. After disappearing for many years, Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy was greatly admired by the surrealists when exhibited in the John Quinn Collection in 1926. Diane Waldman, “Max Ernst,” in Max Ernst: A Retrospective (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1975), 52. 42. The role of “femme-enfant” has been problematic to feminist writers, although, viewed in another light, the surrealists’ admiration for these young women can be described as a celebration of their creative audacity, curiosity, and spirit of adventure; Penelope Rosemont, Surrealist Women, xlvii. 43. Laura E. Smith, “Iconographic Issues in Picasso’s ‘Woman in the Garden,’” Arts 56 (January 1982): 142 –147. 44. This painting illustrated Herbert Read’s article “Max Ernst,” discussing his 1933 exhibition at the Mayor Gallery in London. Listener 9 (June 7, 1933): 899. 45. The chimera theme returned often in Ernst’s art and poetry. See Branko Aleksic, “Amour, nature et plaisir en picto-poésie,” in Max Ernst, Première conversation mémorable avec la chimère, trans. Branko Aleksic (Thaon: Amiot, Leganey, 1991), 37– 81. 46. By 1934, these shell-flower paintings may not represent Marie-Berthe at all, but other women, including Meret Oppenheim and Lotte Lenya, with whom he had affairs. 47. Penrose, Scrap Book, 1900 –1981, 38; Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 32. 48. Max Ernst, “Cinquième séance,” in Recherches sur la sexualité: Janvier 1928 –Août 1932, 124. 49. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 40. 50. Ibid., 32. 51. Ibid., 76. 52. Tanning, Birthday, 43 – 49. 53. Günter Metken described the menacing aspects of these plant forms in “Blumen des Bösen: Max Ernst Flugzeugfressende Gärten,” Die Weltkunst 41 (December 1971): 1603 –1604, and “Zwischen Europa und Amerika,” in Max Ernst Retrospektive (1979), 79– 96. 54. Fischer suggested that their domestic problems contributed to the unsettled mood of many of Ernst’s paintings of the late 1930s. Max Ernst in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, 84. 55. Waldman interpreted The Angel of Hearth and Home as a response to the Spanish Civil War and to Picasso’s Guernica. “Max Ernst,” 51. 56. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 121. 57. Discrepancies exist in the literature concerning the dating of their meeting, subsequent travels, and creative endeavors. This account has been compiled and reevaluated from the following sources: Juan García Ponce and Leonora Carrington, Leonora Carrington (Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 1974); Leonora Carrington, exh. cat. (Austin, Tex.: University Art Museum, 1976); Janice Helland, “Daughter of the Minotaur: Leonora Carrington and the Surrealist Image” (M.A. thesis, University of Victoria, October 1984); Leonora Carrington, The House of Fear, introduction by Marina Warner (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1988), 1– 21; Leonora Carrington: Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures, 1940 –1990, ed. Andrea Schlieker, exh. cat. (London: Serpentine Gallery, 1991); and Sarah Wilson, “Max Ernst and England,” in Max Ernst, Tate Gallery (1991), 363 – 372.


notes to pages 156 – 161 58. Penrose, Scrap Book, 1900 –1981, 122. 59. Probably taken by Roland Penrose. Lee Miller Archives, illustrated in Leonora Carrington, Serpentine Gallery (1991), 100. 60. Marcel Jean suggested that Carrington was already painting dreamlike imagery and that Ernst served only to lead her more surely in that direction; The History of Surrealist Painting, trans. Simon Watson Taylor (New York: Grove Press, 1967), 289. See also Renée Riese Hubert, “Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst: Artistic Partnership and Feminist Liberation,” New Literary History 22 (Summer 1991): 715 – 745, and “Beyond Initiation,” in Magnifying Mirrors, 113 –139; Susan Rubin Suleiman, “Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst,” in Significant Others: Creativity and Intimate Partnership, ed. Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtivron (London: Thames & Hudson, 1993), 96 –117; and Julotte Roche, Max et Leonora (Cognac: Le Temps Qu’il Fait, 1997). 61. These photographs were reproduced from Leonora Carrington’s photo album in Max Ernst: Fotographische Porträts und Dokumente, ed. Jürgen Pech, exh. cat. (Brühl: Stadt Brühl, 1991), 112. 62. Whitney Chadwick, “Leonora Carrington: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness,” Woman’s Art Journal 7 (Spring– Summer 1986): 38. In Carrington’s short story “Pigeon, Fly!” the character Ferdinand, who has associations to Max Ernst, is also depicted with both male and female characteristics; in The Seventh Horse, and Other Tales, trans. Kathrine Talbot (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1988), 19– 29. 63. Aristotle discussed this physical curiosity, and the hyena’s hermaphroditism remained legendary into the twentieth century. Hans Kruuk, The Spotted Hyena (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), 210. 64. Illustrated in Marcel Jean, The History of Surrealist Painting, 286. 65. These identities were established in Warner’s introduction to Carrington’s House of Fear, 7–14. 66. This story began Carrington’s lifelong exploration of the Androgyne, influenced by Mme. Alexandra David-Neel’s works, With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet and Initiations and Initiates in Tibet (both 1931). Carrington did not read Jung’s interpretations on alchemy until later in her career, as Warner noted in her introduction to Carrington’s House of Fear, 10 –11. 67. The Silent Assassin and What Shall We Do Tomorrow, Aunt Amelia? at the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme at the Galerie Beaux-Arts alongside Ernst’s collages for Une Semaine de bonté, as well as Lord Candlestick’s Meal and The Horses of Lord Candlestick in the Surrealistische Schilderkunst exhibition at the Galerie Robert in Amsterdam. 68. Carrington’s Woman and Bird (Femme et oiseau) was reproduced in Suleiman, “Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst,” 104. 69. Dominguez used ink, and Ernst adapted this experimental technique to paint. 70. Günter Metken, “Max Ernsts Haus in Saint-Martin d’Ardèche,” Pantheon 32 (July–August– September 1974): 289– 297, and “Zwischen Europa und Amerika,” 79– 96. 71. See Charlotte Stokes, “The Thirteenth Chair: Max Ernst’s Capricorn,” 88 – 93. 72. Gloria Feman Orenstein, “Leonora Carrington’s Visionary Art for the New


notes to pages 161 – 164 Age,” Chrysalis 3 (1977): 65 –77, and “The Methodology of the Marvelous,” Symposium 42 (Winter 1989): 328 – 339. 73. Helland noted the influence of Mary Anne Atwood’s Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy (1850) as well as Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis on this painting. Janice Helland, “Surrealism and Esoteric Feminism in the Paintings of Leonora Carrington,” RACAR 16 (1989): 53 – 61, 102 –104. Atwood’s book was revised in 1918 but was still difficult to obtain until it was reprinted in 1960. Carrington did not begin reading Jung until the late 1950s and 1960s. She could have known other English books by Arthur Edward Waite and members of the Order of the Golden Dawn, although none of the authors who have interviewed her mentioned any. More likely, Carrington’s alchemical imagery at this point in her career was connected to Ernst’s interest in the subject and to texts and images that appeared in Minotaure and other surrealist publications. See also Chadwick, “Leonora Carrington: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness,” 38 – 39. Carrington continued her readings of hermetic literature after her move to Mexico. It would be fruitful to explore the connections between her painting The Burning of Bruno (1964), illustrated in Leonora Carrington, Serpentine Gallery, 82, and Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. See also Kelly Wacker, “Alchemy in Exile: The Alchemical Kitchen in the Work of Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo,” in Ohio Northern University, ONU Monograph no. 44 (Spring 1995): n.p. Carrington’s later writings reflect her persistent devotion to alchemy. See, for example, “The Cabbage Is a Rose” (1975) and “Magic Art: A Conversation” (1996), in Penelope Rosemont, Surrealist Women, 375 – 377, 272 – 274. 74. Illustrated in Leonora Carrington, Serpentine Gallery, 55. 75. The dating of this painting varies; some placed it as early as 1937 and saw it as a companion piece to her Self Portrait: At the Inn of the Dawn Horse. Warner, in her introduction to Carrington’s House of Fear, connected Ernst’s striped socks to a passage in Carrington’s Little Francis, and thus related it to Ernst’s first disappearance— his return to Marie-Berthe during the winter of 1937–1938. Carrington probably began this painting during the fall of 1939, after Ernst’s first arrest, finishing it when he returned, between January and May 1940. It was published to illustrate her article “The Bird Superior Max Ernst,” View 2, no. 1, Special Ernst Issue (April 1942): 13, and dated 1940. 76. The Rider Tarot Deck, introduction by Stuart R. Kaplan (New York: U.S. Games, 1971). An alchemical emblem included in Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) shows an old alchemist, holding a lantern, who follows in the footsteps of Nature, represented by a young woman with a bouquet of flowers. It is reproduced in Klossowski de Rola, The Golden Game, 92. It seems doubtful that Carrington would have known this emblem despite these similarities, as no reproduction of this image has yet been found in the popular hermetic literature of the time. 77. Silberer, 12 –13 and 122 –126. 78. Reproduced in Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, in gallery section between 114 and 115. 79. Carrington claimed that she did not paint from that day, throughout her escape to Spain and subsequent hospitalization, until 1941, when she met Renato Leduc, the Mexican ambassador whom she married in order to emigrate to the United States. 80. This painting has received alchemical and Rosicrucian interpretations in


notes to pages 164 – 171 Mauer, “In Quest of Myth,” 283 – 287; Hopkins, “Max Ernst’s La Toilette de la mariée,” 237– 244; and Hopkins, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst, 95 –153. 81. Henri-Alexis Baatsch, “La Légende rhénane de Max Ernst,” XXe Siècle 48 (June 1977): 66 –70. Articles on Cranach appeared in Minotaure, including Maurice Raynal, “Réalité et Mythologie des Cranach,” and Edward James, “The Marvel of Minuteness,” in Minotaure 3, no. 9 (1936): 11–19, 20 – 24. 82. Jacques Delamain, “Oiseaux de nuit, chouettes et hiboux,” Minotaure no. 7 (1935): 42 – 47. 83. Double-headed figures wearing small faces as pendants are found in an alchemical emblem from Vincenzo Cartari, Le imagini de gli dei Padua (1608), although it is unlikely that this emblem was reproduced in contemporary secondary literature of the 1930s. It is illustrated in Johannes Fabricius, Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemists and Their Royal Art (London: Aquarian Press, 1975), 185. 84. A photograph reproduced in Penrose’s Scrap Book (138) showed Daniel Bénédite preparing to auction The Robing of the Bride in March 1941. 85. “Down Below” originally appeared in VVV, no. 4 (1944), and was reissued in book form (Chicago: Black Swan Press, 1983). A revised version in book form is included in Carrington’s House of Fear, 163 – 209. 86. “Down Below,” in Carrington, The House of Fear, 177. 87. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 199. 88. Peggy had met Max before and had visited the Saint-Martin d’Ardèche home during the winter of 1938 –1939, buying Leonora’s Horses of Lord Candlestick; Peggy Guggenheim, Out of This Century (New York: Universe Books, 1946), 216. 89. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 213 – 214. 90. Peggy Guggenheim, Out of This Century, 246, 253. 91. Carrington later divorced Leduc amicably, married the Hungarian photographer Cziki Weisz in 1946, and had two children. 92. Pollock saw the early abstract version of Ernst’s A Young Man Intrigued by the Flight of a Non-Euclidian Fly (S/M 2428) when it was exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1942. Supposedly Pollock asked Ernst how he was able to achieve this effect and Ernst explained his technique to the younger artist. Ernst related this encounter with the insistence that his role in the development of Pollock’s later “drip” painting had been relatively minor. 93. See Chapter 1, “The Myth of the Child,” this volume; Stokes, “Magus in New York: Max Ernst 1942,” 36 – 44. 94. Some examples include Benjamin Péret, “Magic: The Flesh and Blood of Poetry,” View 3 (June 1943): 44 – 46, 63, 66; Robert Grosseteste, “On Light or the Ingression of Forms,” trans. Charles Glenn Wallis, and Philip Lamantia, “Hermetic Rose,” View 4 (Summer 1944): 46 – 47, 50, 51. 95. Ernst’s friendship with Seligmann was well established. He and Arp witnessed Seligmann’s marriage to Arlette Paraf in 1935; see Martica Sawin, “Magus, Magic, Magnet: The Archaizing Surrealism of Kurt Seligmann,” Arts Magazine 60 (February 1986): 77. As early as 1942, Seligmann connected his discussion of the alchemical Androgyne to Carl Jung’s theories (“Magic Circles,” View 1 [February– March 1942]: 3 – 4), and published several alchemical engravings in “Heritage of the Accursed,” View 5 (December 1945): 6 – 8. The Mirror of Magic contained a scholarly study of alchemical texts and their illustrations, 120 –190.


notes to pages 171 – 180 96. Kurt Seligmann, “Magic and the Arts,” View 7 (Fall 1946): 15 –17. 97. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 220, 231– 232, 249– 251, 254, 265 – 266. 98. Ibid., 232 – 233. 99. Tanning, Birthday, 14 –15. This book gives the most thorough account of their relationship. Tanning’s painting Birthday is illustrated opposite page 96. See also Mary Ann Caws, “Person: Tanning’s Self-Portraiture,” in The Surrealist Look (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997), 61– 93. 100. Held at the Museum of Modern Art from December 8, 1936, through January 17, 1937, and curated by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. 101. Peggy Guggenheim, who did not portray Tanning kindly, said that Max fell for her instantly. Out of This Century, 280. 102. Julien Levy, Memoir of an Art Gallery, 270 – 280. 103. Ibid., 274 – 275. 104. See photograph in Tanning, Birthday, in gallery section between 96 and 97. 105. Susan Rubin Suleiman, “Artists in Love (and Out): Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst,” in Risking Who One Is (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), 117–121. 106. Ernst first visited the American Southwest with Peggy in 1941, shortly after coming to the United States; see Guggenheim, Out of This Century, 256 – 257, and Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 216. 107. A contemporary photograph by Ellinger showed Ernst seated in a dugout canoe, a piece from his collection of oceanic art. Illustrated in Jimmy Ernst, A NotSo-Still Life, in gallery section between 114 and 115. 108. Tanning’s work has not been analyzed in any particular hermetic light; however, her use of sunflowers in several works may be connected to their alchemical significance as symbols of gold. They also carry, of course, the memories of her childhood in midwest America. 109. Sigrid Metken, “‘Ten Thousand Redskins’: Max Ernst and the North American Indians,” in Max Ernst, Tate (1991), 357– 362. 110. Derenthal and Pech, Max Ernst, 220 – 222. 111. Susanne Lücke-David, Max Ernst “Euclid”: Ein mentales Vexierbild (Recklinghausen: Aurel Bongers, 1994). 112. See Stokes, “The Thirteenth Chair: Max Ernst’s Capricorn,” 88 – 93. Stokes established many hermetic associations for this sculpture and also mentioned Nicolas Calas’s earlier discussion of Capricorn in connection to the tarot card of the Devil, in “A Tough Nut to Crack,” Artforum 13 (May 1975): 51–52. 113. At Eye Level—Paramyths, 23 – 39. 114. Stokes, “The Thirteenth Chair: Max Ernst’s Capricorn,” 90, and Renée Riese Hubert, “Max Ernst: The Displacement of the Visual and the Verbal,” New Literary History 15 (Spring 1984): 587. 115. At Eye Level—Paramyths, 26. 116. As with “Au delà de la peinture,” some parts of this text had been published earlier. He answered many of the interviewer’s questions by repeating the titles of his recent paintings. He also referred to “ô titanils, ô titanelles.” Max Ernst, “Propos de Max Ernst: La Nudité de la femme est plus sage que l’enseignement du philosophe,” in Propos et Présence: Max Ernst, introduction by Georges Bataille (Paris: Editions d’Art Gonthier-Seghers, 1959), 30, 32.


notes to pages 180 – 188 117. Cited in Max Ernst, Tate Gallery (1991), 338. 118. Edouard Roditi, “Max Ernst” (1960), in More Dialogues on Art, 55. 119. Nicolas Calas, “And Her Body Became Enormous Luminous and Splendid,” View 2, no. 1, Special Ernst Issue (April 1942): 20 – 21. Interspersed in this long quotation were Calas’s praise and reminiscences of the artist Leonor Fini, with whom Ernst had an affair in the mid-1930s. 120. These statements culminate in his essay “Au delà de la peinture,” in section 3, “Identité instantanée,” 44 – 46. 121. Silberer, 373 – 416. 122. Ibid., 415 – 416. 123. André Breton, “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst,” 7.

7. As Above, So Below: The Alchemical Landscapes 1. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 28. 2. See Pier Carlo Santini, Modern Landscape Painting (London: Phaidon, 1972). For discussions of Ernst’s landscapes see John Russell, “Max Ernst and Landscape,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 65 –77; Günter Metken, “Aus der Vogelschau,” in Max Ernst Landschafter, exh. cat. (Basel: Galerie Beyeler, 1985), n.p.; Helmut Oehlers, Figur und Raum in den Werken von Max Ernst, René Magritte, Salvador Dali und Paul Delvaux zwischen 1925 und 1938 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1986), 25 –156; Histoires de forêt, exh. cat. (Nantes: Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes, 1987); Eduard Trier, “Max Ernsts Waldeslust,” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 46 (1985): 349– 365; and several essays in Die Erfindung der Natur: Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Wols und das surreale Universum, exh. cat., Sprengel Museum Hannover (Freiburg im Breisgau: Rombach, 1994). 3. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. 4. Roditi, “Max Ernst,” 42. 5. Lippard, “The World of Dadamax Ernst,” 27. See also Loni and Lothar Pretzell, “Impressions of Max Ernst from His Homeland,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 3 – 8. 6. See Reinhold D. Hohl, “The Sun in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture,” Graphis 18, no. 100 (March–April 1962): 228 – 243. 7. These works have been dated by Werner Spies as ca. 1913 and by Camfield as ca. 1919. 8. Max Ernst, “An Informal Life of M. E.,” Museum of Modern Art (1961), 11. 9. Derenthal, “Mitteilungen über Flugzeuge, Engel und den Weltkrig: Zu den Photocollagen der Dadazeit von Max Ernst.” 10. Ludger Derenthal, “Muskelmänner und Sternenbilder,” 48 –53. 11. Dawn Ades, “Dada Stargazers.” 12. The saline associations in the title have been connected to the health spas near Brühl. Marion Wolf, “Tic-Tac: The Early Imagery of Max Ernst,” Arts 49 (February 1975): 67– 69. 13. Poisson, Théories et symboles des alchimistes, 14 –17. See also the emblem reproduced by Poisson (Fig. 4.14), where an adept and a young initiate discuss the mysteries of the work beneath a large tree, symbolic of the alchemical metaphors with nature.


notes to pages 188 – 196 14. G. F. Hartlaub, “The Sun in the Sign-Language of Alchemy,” Graphis 18, no. 100 (March–April 1962): 138 –145, 264 – 265. This article illustrated several alchemical representations of the sun as well as two versions of “The Children of the Sun,” woodcuts related to the “Children of Mercury” prints discussed earlier (Figs. 4.2, 4.3). 15. Typically, Matthäus Merian is credited with engraving the image, which was reproduced by both Grillot de Givry, Musée des sorciers, 392 – 394, and Seligmann, The Mirror of Magic, 161–166. Klossowski de Rola asserts that Johann Theodor de Bry was the engraver; The Golden Game, 68. 16. The phrase “as above, so below” in the title of this chapter is distilled from the second premise of The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, possibly the earliest alchemical text to have survived. Jon Marshall compiled several scholarly translations for the alchemy website moderated by Adam McLean. See alchemy/emerald.html. 17. Poisson’s Théories et symboles contained a few engravings with landscape details and several that included the sun and the moon. 18. Friedrich Nietzsche, “Ecce Homo,” cited in Werner Spies, “An Aesthetics of Detachment,” in Max Ernst: A Retrospective (1991), 41. 19. John Russell, “Max Ernst and Landscape,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 65 – 66. 20. Elizabeth Legge, “Zeuxis’s Grapes,” 147–172; Pech, Max Ernst, “Histoire Naturelle,” Frottagen. 21. Legge connected this plate and other circular imagery in the series to the writings of Jacob Böhme via Hans Arp. She interpreted the first image, Sea and Rain (S/M 790), as a visualization of the alchemical operation of “squaring the circle”; “Zeuxis’s Grapes,” 152. 22. Silberer, 115. 23. Legge, Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources, 175. Although the question remains whether Ernst looked at original manuscripts and printed books, both of these were available in Paris. The De Summa manuscript is housed at the Bibliothèque d’Arsenal, and the “Separatio” illustration from “Sapientia vererum philosophorum . . .” had been reprinted in Marc Haven’s Museum Hermeticum (1914). 24. Stokes illustrated the solar halo that Ernst reproduced in Rendezvous of Friends (Fig. 4.1) in “The Scientific Methods of Max Ernst: His Use of Scientific Subjects from La Nature,” 456. The collage from “Vendredi” and its source illustration are discussed in M. E. Warlick, “Max Ernst’s Alchemical Novel: Une Semaine de bonté,” 70. 25. S. A. Mitchell, Eclipses of the Sun, 2d ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1924), 55, 366 – 420. 26. Silberer, 46. 27. Gérard Barrière, “Max Ernst,” Connaissance des Arts 280 (June 1975): 84. 28. Helmut Leppien, Der Grosse Wald (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1967), 3 –11. 29. Edouard Roditi, “Max Ernst,” 41. 30. “Poisson soluble” (1924), in Manifestes du surréalisme, 71. 31. For Ernst’s use of horses and the relationship to Kokoschka’s Bride of the Wind, see Ulrich Reißer, “Max Ernst und seine Serie der Windsbräute—Paradoxon des Zufalls,” Pantheon 51 (1993): 151–161. 32. Suleiman, “Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst,” 107–108. The original es-


notes to pages 196 – 204 say was illustrated with a nineteenth-century ornamental alphabet made of trees and with photographs of intertwining roots and tree trunks. 33. Suzi Gablik, “The Snake Paradise: Evolutionism in the Landscapes of Max Ernst,” Art in America 63 (May 1975): 34 – 39. Gablik drew parallels to Henri Rousseau, Caspar David Friedrich, and the German biologist Ernst Haeckel. 34. William L. Pressley, “The Praying Mantis in Surrealist Art,” Art Bulletin 55 (December 1973): 600 – 615. 35. Roger Caillois, “La Mante religieuse,” Minotaure 5 (1934): 23 – 26. 36. Roger Caillois, “Mimétisme et psychasthénie légendaire,” Minotaure 7 (1935): 4 –10. 37. S/M 2266, S/M 2267, S/M 2268, S/M 2271, and S/M 2296. Dalí’s portrayal of Narcissus has been interpreted alchemically in Milly Heyd, “Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus Reconsidered,” Artibus et Historiae no. 10 (1984): 121–131. 38. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 44 – 46. 39. Ibid., 46. 40. Mauer, “Dada and Surrealism,” 552 –553. 41. Max Ernst, “Au delà de la peinture,” 46. 42. André Breton, “La Beauté sera convulsive,” Minotaure 2 (May 1934): 12, 16. 43. Dora Maar was the photographer. Lamba appears opp. 1 and Pierre Mabille’s “Notes sur le symbolisme,” in Minotaure 8 (1936). 44. André Breton, “Le Chateau étoilé,” Minotaure 8 (1936): 37. 45. André Breton, “La Nuit du tournesol,” Minotaure 2 (1935): 50. 46. Breton, “A Paris le Tour Saint-Jacques chancelante / Pareille à un tournesol,” in “La Nuit du tournesol,” 50 –52. Brassaï’s photograph of the Tour Saint Jacques illustrated this passage. 47. Breton, “Le Chateau étoilé,” 35 – 37. 48. Ibid., 39– 40. In the book L’Amour fou, a photograph that Ernst must have seen before creating his frottage illustrated the phrase. 49. Breton, “La Beauté sera convulsive,” 16. 50. Benjamin Péret, “La Nature dévore le progrès et le dépasse,” Minotaure 10 (1937): 20 – 21. 51. Ibid., 21. 52. Günter Metken, “Zwischen Europa und Amerika,” in Max Ernst: Retrospektive, Haus der Kunst (1979), 79– 96. 53. Benjamin Péret, “D’une Décalcomanie sans objet préconçu (décalcomanie du désir),” Minotaure 8 (1936): 18 – 24. 54. Benjamin Péret, “Ruines: Ruine des Ruines,” Minotaure 12 –13 (May 1939): 57– 65. He mentioned Mussolini’s and Stalin’s corruption of Lenin’s ideals. 55. Sigmund Freud, “Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thoughts,” in Totem and Taboo, trans. James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1950), 75 – 99. 56. David Hopkins, “Hermetic and Philosophical Themes in Max Ernst’s ‘Vox Angelica’ and Related Works,” Burlington Magazine 134 (November 1992): 716 –723. 57. Karin von Maur established which paintings were actually in the Cologne collections during his youth. “Max Ernst and Romanticism,” in Max Ernst, Tate Gallery (1991), 341. 58. Lewin’s film was based on Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami, a novel of bourgeois corruption.


notes to pages 204 – 208 59. Although other sources for this image have been suggested, Grillot de Givry illustrated one by Isaac van Mechelen, Musée des sorciers, 25. 60. Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 216; Henri-Alexis Baatsch, “Perspective imaginaire de la ville,” XXe Siècle 39 (June 1977): 127–129; Patrick Waldberg, “Max Ernst in Arizona,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 51–53. 61. Dorothea Tanning, Self Portrait, 1944, oil on canvas, 61 ⫻ 76 cm, Mrs. Mary Louise Johnson collection, Sedona, Arizona, illustrated in Alain Jouffroy, “Dorothea Tanning: Le Chavirement dans la joie,” XXe Siècle 36 (December 1974): 60 – 68. 62. Sigrid Metken, “‘Ten Thousand Redskins,’” in Max Ernst: A Retrospective, Tate Gallery (1991), 357– 362. 63. Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Max Ernst: DIE PHASEN DER NACHT oder: Das kleine Einmaleins der Liebe (Hofheim: Wolke, 1993). 64. “Mite-Size Art Is Shown Actual Size,” Life 32 (January 21, 1952): 58 –59, 61– 62. 65. Loni and Lothar Pretzell, “Impressions of Max Ernst from His Homeland,” in Homage to Max Ernst, 8. 66. For example, Volcano I (S/M 2522), Emotion (S/M 2526), Courtesy of the Moon (S/M 2527), and Arizona (S/M 2536). 67. Sigrid Metken, “‘Ten Thousand Redskins’: Max Ernst and the North American Indians,” 359. 68. Tanning, Birthday, 104 –105. 69. Eluard died in 1952, while Arp lived until 1966. 70. Jean Schuster, “Interview de Max Ernst sur l’Allemagne,” Medium n.s., no. 2 (February 1954): 27– 29. 71. Eduard Trier, “Max Ernsts Vater Rhein und seine Quellen,” in Bilderstreit: Widerspruch, Einheit und Fragment in der Kunst seit 1960, exh. cat. (Cologne: Museum Ludwig, 1989), 485 – 493. 72. Ernst and Tanning were both well represented in the 1947 Paris exhibition. He also collaborated on Néon and on Max Holzer’s Surrealistische Publikation. The 1950 Almanach surréaliste included five of his ink drawings, and he is in the front row of the 1952 Place Blanche reunion photo in Bédouin’s Vingt ans de surréalisme. 73. The statement critical of his actions, and declaring that Ernst had thereby “placed himself outside of surrealism,” was signed collectively by Benayoun, Breton, Flamand, Péret, Schuster, Toyen, and seven others. Breton himself, as well as Nora Mitrani and Meret Oppenheim, vigorously opposed this “exclusion,” and the latter two refused to sign the statement. “A son gré,” Médium: Communication surréaliste, no. 4 (January 1955): 36. Reprinted in José Pierre, Tracts surréalistes et déclarations collectives, 1922 –1969, vol. 2 (Paris: Le Terrain Vague, 1982), 135 –136, 365 – 367. 74. Tanning, Birthday, 107–108. 75. See Max Ernst Illustrierte Bücher und druckgraphische Werke, and Spies, Max Ernst, Oeuvre Katalog: Das graphisches Werk. 76. “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 28. Both paintings are reproduced in Derenthal and Pech (Figs. 396 and 384, respectively). 77. Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, 2, 556 –557. Ernst’s portrait Leonardo da Vinci, 1956 (S/M 3166), also contains the same downward-pointed triangular face; illustrated in Waldberg, Max Ernst, 208.


notes to pages 208 – 217 78. Ernst included this quotation in Ecritures as an example of the efforts of critics who had understood his work. It originally appeared in Alain Bosquet, “Le Bonheur de Max Ernst,” Quadrum V (1958): 16. 79. Jacques Dupin, “Les Dernières Peintures de Max Ernst,” Cahiers d’Art 28 (1953): 93. 80. Lippard, “The World of Dadamax Ernst,” 29. 81. Kurt Seligmann, “Heritage of the Accursed,” 6 – 8, titled “Putrefaction Glorified.” It originally appeared in Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (1617). 82. Grillot de Givry, Musée des sorciers, 406 – 408, and Fulcanelli, Le Mystère des cathédrales, 111–115. Grillot de Givry identified the figure in the coffin as a man, while Fulcanelli identified her as an adulteress. Klossowski de Rola explained that the woman is Venus representing Philosophic Mercury while the dragon is Philosophic Sulphur; The Golden Game, 104. 83. Max Ernst, Maximiliana, or The Illegal Practice of Astronomy (Paris: Le Degré Quarante & Un, 1964). See Schneede, Max Ernst, 198 – 201, and Anne Hyde Greet, “Iliazd and Max Ernst: 65 Maximiliana or the Illegal Practice of Astronomy,” World Literature Today (Winter 1982): 10 –18. Beatrice Farwell kindly brought this article to my attention. 84. On Ernst’s use of a mysterious hieroglyphic script and language see Renée Riese Hubert, “Traces of Transcendence: Masson, Ernst, Tapiès,” Word and Image 7 (April–June 1991): 165 –176. 85. Reproduced in Max Ernst: Journal d’un astronaute millenaire, exh. cat. (Paris: Galerie Alexandre Iolas, 1969), 11. 86. Schamoni, Max Ernst, Maximiliana. 87. The mythic marriage of heaven and earth, like that of the sun and the moon, is found in many cultures. Leo Frobenius, Das Zeitalter des Sonnengottes (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1904), 335 – 342; 346 – 351. This painting also plays on German Romantic themes, particularly the works of Novalis, whom Ernst greatly admired. See Ursula Lindau, Max Ernst und die Romantik (Cologne: Wienand, 1997), 85 – 94. 88. Max Ernst, “Vom Werden der Farbe,” Der Sturm 8 (August 1917): 66 – 68, trans. Diane Waldman, “Max Ernst,” in Max Ernst: A Retrospective, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1975), 20.

Conclusion 1. (1994). 2. 3. 4.

Eduard Trier, “Max Ernst in Bonn im Jahr 1972,” in Max Ernst und Bonn Jimmy Ernst, A Not-So-Still Life, 4 – 9. Max Ernst, “Some Data on the Youth of M. E.,” 30. Max Ernst, “Lebensdaten,” cited in Schneede, Max Ernst, 6 –7.



An Alchemical Glossary In alchemy, certain symbols may have multiple meanings; for example, a winged dragon can represent Primal Matter, fire, and volatility. Conversely, a single substance might be represented by several different symbols; for example, frogs, serpents, green lions, and geometric cubes all represent Primal Matter. This shifting nature of alchemical symbolism should be kept in mind when consulting this glossary. air One of the four basic elements of matter, known for its hot, moist, and gaseous qualities. Air is represented by birds or clouds. albedo The whitening phase; purification. alembic Originally referring to the rounded cover of the alchemical vessel, this term is used to signify the entire transparent vessel, or Philosophic Egg, in which the King and Queen are united. Symbolic terms are prison, sepulcher, chamber, and bed. androgyne The unification of the masculine and feminine principles of the work. A single figure with fused male and female characteristics, signifying the conjunction of the King and Queen. It can also be represented as a hermaphrodite, a single figure having both male and female sexual characteristics. animals Animals represent materials, phases, and operations of the work; two animals of different sexes represent the masculine and feminine archetypes. See also Bird, Dog, Dragon, Lion, Salamander, and Wolf.


max er nst and alchemy archetypes Masculine and feminine aspects of the work, representing the sexual polarity of Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury; symbolized by a man and woman, King and Queen, sun and moon, or masculine and feminine animals. The male aspects are hot, dry, and fixed, and the female are cool, moist, and volatile. athanor The furnace in which the alembic vessel is heated. Represented as a square or cylindrical brick structure. bath A bain-marie is a water bath used in the gentler phases of the process. A fountain or bath for the King and Queen symbolizes their purification in a watery phase. bird Upward movement of flight, volatilization, sublimation; downward movement of precipitation, condensation. Two birds united into one figure, distillation. Birds, as opposed to terrestrial animals, signify air or the volatile principle, as opposed to the earth and the fixity of matter. Birds can also represent crystals forming within the alembic and gases that rise and fall. See also specific birds below. crow Black, nigredo, the phase of blackness, putrefaction. eagle Feminine aspect of Primal Matter, volatile nature of the material. Can also symbolize acids used in the work. peacock An intermediate iridescent stage; authors differ as to when this phase occurs. pelican Rubedo, the color red; also the shape of a certain glass vessel used in the work, with a long tubular neck; a mother pelican pecking its breast indicates the appearance and multiplication of the Philosopher’s Stone. phoenix In flames, red, rubedo, the phase of redness, conjunction, a birth following death. rooster , hen, eggs, and chicks The alchemist’s careful incubation of the substances within the alembic vessel. swan White, albedo, the phase of whiteness, purification. chemical wedding Union of the King and Queen, Philosophic Sulphur and Philosophic Mercury, symbol of conjunction. The god Mercury or an officiating priest represents the catalyst salt. child or young prince The Philosopher’s Stone, product of the conjunction of the King and Queen. circle or sphere Unity of matter.


an alchemical glossary coffin or sepulcher The alchemical vessel in which the Old King is killed so that the Young Prince, or Philosopher’s Stone, can be born. colors black Nigredo, phase of blackness; symbols include crows, skeletons. blue Usually equated to the moon, or silver. gold Perfection of the masculine. green Primal Matter, represented by reptiles, frogs, dragons, serpents. red Rubedo, phase of redness, conjunction, union of the King and Queen that produces the Philosopher’s Stone; red roses, pelican pecking its breast, phoenix in the fire; the perfection of sulphur, gold. silver Perfection of the feminine. white Albedo, phase of whiteness, swans, lilies, unicorns, white roses. yellow Usually equated to the sun, or gold. conjunction Marriage and sexual union of the King and Queen that produces the Philosopher’s Stone, rubedo, the red phase of the work, the Chemical Wedding. deities apollo sun. diana moon. jupiter Tin. latona Mother of Apollo and Diana, thus a symbol of Primal Matter. mars Iron. mercury Quicksilver. Mercury can also represent the catalyst salt. neptune Watery operations. saturn Lead, putrefaction. venus Copper. dog Sulphur; male and female dogs, the fixed and volatile aspects of the work. dragon Primal Matter. Winged dragons represent Primal Matter in a volatile phase. Also fire, both the element fire and the fire used to heat the alembic vessel; a dragon biting its own tail is the Ouroborus, a symbol of the cyclic nature of the work and the unity of matter. earth One of the four elements of matter, known for its cool, dry, and fixed properties. Its symbols are caves, underground passageways, mines, and terrestrial animals such as lions and bulls, and also men. It can also


max er nst and alchemy be equated with Primal Matter, represented by a square, a cube, or any four-sided figure. egg Philosophic Egg, the alembic vessel in which the work takes place. elements See Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. fire One of the four basic elements of matter, known for its hot, dry, and volatile qualities. It is represented by fire, a salamander, or a dragon. flowers Their colors signify important phases of the work. Red and white roses represent the perfection of male Philosophic Sulphur (red) and female Philosophic Mercury (white). Sunflowers represent the perfection of gold, and lilies, that of silver. Green plants represent Primal Matter. geometric figures Related to number symbolism. circle Oneness, the unity of the material, and the cyclic nature of the work. square or cube The four elements. triangle Three principles (sulphur, mercury, and salt) and three levels of the work (body, mind, and spirit). Upward- and downwardpointing triangles are also used to symbolize the four elements. When superimposed on each other they form a six-pointed star: the quintessence. initiate An alchemist who has just begun to learn the mysteries of the work. king or man Gold, perfection of Philosophic Sulphur, the masculine aspect of the work, also symbolized by crowned male animals; nude man signifies impure sulphur. lion Earth, the element, and Primal Matter. Symbol of fixity and of the masculine principle sulphur. Male and female lions represent the masculine and feminine aspects of Primal Matter. mercury A multiple symbol. The god Mercury with his winged hat and feet represents the catalyst salt, the body that contains the spirit and soul. Mercury’s caduceus also represents this single staff around which the two opposites (the snakes of Primal Matter) unite. Not to be confused with Philosophic Mercury, the feminine principle of the work. The god Mercury can also represent quicksilver, a feminine metal used in the beginning operations of the work. metals copper The goddess Venus. gold The God Apollo, the sun.


an alchemical glossary iron The god Mars. lead The god Saturn, putrefaction. mercury Quicksilver, the god Mercury. silver The goddess Diana, the moon. tin The god Jupiter. moon Silver, Philosophic Mercury in its purified and refined state, often accompanies the Queen as a symbol of feminine perfection. nature Vegetation parallels the alchemical process as seeds die and are planted in the ground to produce fruit; includes trees, gardens, planting of seeds, landscape scenes. nigredo Blackening, a stage preceded by putrefaction of the material. numbers 1 Unity of matter and unity of the work. 2 Two archetypes—masculine and feminine, sulphur and mercury. 3 Three principles, sulphur, mercury, and salt; three levels of the work, body, mind, and spirit. 4 The four elements. 5 and 6 The quintessence, the four elements combined in ether. This is represented by a six-pointed star. 7 The seven ancient planets. ouroborus A dragon or snake biting its own tail, symbol of the cyclic nature of the work and the unity of matter. A red and green Ouroborus signifies the production of the Philosopher’s Stone from Primal Matter. philosopher’s stone The Young Prince, or child, formed by the conjunction of the King and Queen. philosophic egg The alembic vessel. philosophic mercury The feminine principle of the work; the Queen. philosophic sulphur The masculine principle of the work; the King. planets The seven ancient planets are symbolized by their appropriate deities, by their astrological symbols, and by stars. jupiter Tin, the birth of Minerva (Athena) from the head of Jupiter (Zeus), signifies the release and separation of the feminine from the masculine aspects of Primal Matter. mars Iron. mercury Quicksilver; see also the god Mercury and the catalyst salt. moon Silver, the Queen. saturn Lead, also connected to the initial phases of destruction.


max er nst and alchemy sun Gold, the King. venus Copper. primal matter Base matter containing everything necessary for the completion of the work, a substance connected to the earth that must be found before the work can begin; chaos. puffer A foolish alchemist, one who is striving only to make gold, symbolized by the bellows used to heat the athanor (furnace). purification Washing to remove impurities, resulting in albedo, the whitening phase. putrefaction Destruction and killing of Primal Matter to bring out all of its impurities, resulting in nigredo, the blackening phase. queen or woman Silver, perfection of Philosophic Mercury, the feminine aspect of the work, also symbolized by the moon and by crowned female animals. quintessence The union of the four elements within ether in perfect balance and suspension. rubedo Red phase of the work. salamander Fire, because of the animal’s legendary ability to withstand flames. salt The catalyst mercury, symbolized by the god Mercury, or by a priest officiating at the marriage of the King and Queen. serpent Primal Matter. Three serpents represent the three principles (sulphur, mercury, salt). Two serpents around a caduceus represent sulphur and mercury united by salt. A serpent, or dragon, biting its own tail is the Ouroborus. skeleton Putrefaction. Amputated figures also signify the killing of Primal Matter that must occur early in the operations. stars Symbols of seven planets, or five planets plus the sun and moon. six-pointed star The quintessence. stone of the philosophers Unrefined Primal Matter, purified into the Philosopher’s Stone at the culmination of the work. sun Gold, Philosophic Sulphur in its purified and refined state, often accompanies the King as a symbol of masculine perfection. trees Sunflower trees or lunar trees represent the perfection of gold and silver. Trees containing stars and the sun and the moon are symbols of the seven planets and metals that govern the alchemical work.


an alchemical glossary triangles Symbols of the four elements, combined into a six-pointed star to symbolize the quintessence. water One of the four basic elements of matter, known for its cool, moist, and uid properties. It is connected to the process of puriďŹ cation and symbolized by a fountain, a bath, the sea, a mermaid, rain, ďŹ sh, or the god Neptune. wings Volatile nature of the material, a volatile phase. wolf Antimony.



Selected Bibliography Writings by Max Ernst (in Chronological Order) Ernst, Max. “Vom Werden der Farbe.” Der Sturm 8, no. 5 (August 1917): 66 – 68. ———. “Max Ernst.” Das Junge Rheinland 2 (November 2, 1921): 164 –165. In Jürgen Pech, Dadamax, 1919 –1921 (1982). ———. “Visions de demi-sommeil.” La Révolution surréaliste 9–10 (October 1, 1927): 7. ———. Responses recorded during the “Cinquième séance” (February 7, 17, or 27, 1928). Recherches sur la sexualité: Janvier 1928 –Août 1932, annotated by José Pierre. Paris: Gallimard, 1990. ———. “Une Enquête sur l’amour.” La Révolution surréaliste, no. 12 (1929). ———. “Danger de pollution.” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 3 (1931): 22 – 25. ———. “Inspiration to Order.” This Quarter 5 (September 1932): 79– 85. ———. “Comment on force l’inspiration.” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 6 (May 15, 1933): 43 – 45. ———. “Au delà de la peinture.” Max Ernst: Oeuvres de 1919 à 1936. Cahiers d’Art, Special Ernst Issue (1937): 13 – 46. ———. “Some Data on the Youth of M. E. as Told by Himself.” View 2, no. 1, Special Ernst Issue (April 1942): 28 – 30. ———. Beyond Painting and Other Writings by the Artist and His Friends. Documents of Modern Art series. Edited by Robert Motherwell. New York: Wittenborn, Schultz, 1948. ———. “Souvenirs rhénans.” L’Oeil 16, no. 103 (April 1956): 10. ———. “Propos de Max Ernst: La Nudité de la femme est plus sage que l’enseignement du philosophe,” 11– 33. In Propos et Présence: Max Ernst. Introduction by Georges Bataille. Paris: Editions d’Art Gonthier-Seghers, 1959. ———. “An Informal Life of M. E. (as Told by Himself to a Young Friend),” 7– 24. In Max Ernst. Edited by William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961.


max er nst and alchemy ———. “Biographische Notizen (Wahrheitgewebe und Lügengewebe) Fortsetzung von 1920 bis heute,” 19– 34. In Max Ernst. Exh. cat. Cologne: WallrafRichartz Museum, 1963. ———. Maximiliana, or The Illegal Practice of Astronomy. Paris: Le Degré Quarante et Un, 1964. ———. “Notes pour une biographie,” 11– 99. In Ecritures. Paris: Gallimard, 1970. ———. “Die Frommen Riefen Dreimal Pfui.” Spiegel 9 (February 23, 1970): 156 –161. ———. “Notes pour une biographie,” 15 –153. In Max Ernst. Exh. cat. Paris: GrandPalais, 1975.

Max Ernst Exhibition Catalogs (in Chronological Order) At Eye Level—Paramyths. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Copley Galleries, 1949. Max Ernst Gemälde und Graphik, 1920 –1950. Edited by Lothar and Loni Pretzell. Brühl: Schloss Augustusberg, 1951. Max Ernst. Edited by William S. Lieberman. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961. Max Ernst. Cologne: Wallraf-Richartz Museum, 1963. Max Ernst: Sculpture and Recent Painting. Edited by Sam Hunter. New York: Jewish Museum, 1966. Max Ernst: Journal d’un astronaute millenaire. Paris: Galerie Alexandre Iolas, 1969. Max Ernst: Inside the Sight. Houston: Rice University, 1973. Max Ernst. Paris: Grand Palais, 1975. Max Ernst: A Retrospective. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1975. Max Ernst: Frottagen Collagen Zeichnungen Graphik Bücher. Zurich: Kunsthaus, 1978. Max Ernst from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Ernst. Calgary, Alberta: Glenbow Museum, 1979. Max Ernst: Retrospektive 1979. Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1979. Max Ernst in Köln: Die rheinische Kunstszene bis 1922. Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1980. Max Ernst Landschafter. Basel: Galerie Beyeler, 1985. Max Ernst: Beyond Surrealism. New York: New York Public Library, 1986. Histoires de forêt. Nantes: Musée des Beaux Arts de Nantes, 1987. Max Ernst: Illustrierte Bücher und druckgraphische Werke. Cologne: Wienand, 1989. Max Ernst. London: Tate Gallery, 1991. Max Ernst: Fotographische Porträts und Dokumente. Edited by Jürgen Pech. Brühl: Stadt Brühl, 1991. Max Ernst: Das Rendezvous der Freunde. Cologne: Museum Ludwig, 1991. Max Ernst: The Sculpture. Edinburgh: Themis Visual Arts, 1992. Die Erfindung der Natur: Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Wols und das surreale Universum. Sprengel Museum Hannover. Freiburg im Breisgau: Rombach, 1994. Max Ernst: Sculture ⫽ sculptures. Milan: Charta, 1996. Arnold Böcklin, Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst: Eine Reise ins Ungewisse. Bern: Benteli, 1997. Max Ernst: Die Retrospektive. Berlin: SMPK Nationalgalerie and Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1999.


selec ted bibliography Other Works Ades, Dawn. “Between Dada and Surrealism: Painting in the Mouvement flou,” 23 – 41. In In the Mind’s Eye: Dada and Surrealism. Exh. cat. Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1985. ———. “Dada Stargazers.” Lecture at the Dadamax Symposium, Museum of Modern Art, March 27, 1993. Agrippa von Nettesheim, Cornelius. La Magie d’Arbatel. Paris: Durville fils, 1910. ———. Magische Werk. Berlin: Barsdorf, 1916, 1921. ———. La Philosophie occulte. 2 vols. Paris: Chacornac, 1910 –1911. Aleksic, Branko. “Amour, nature et plaisir en picto-poésie,” 37– 81. In Max Ernst, Première conversation mémorable avec la chimère, trans. Branko Aleksic. Thaon: Amiot, Leganey, 1991. Alexandrian, Sarane. Histoire de la philosophie occulte. Paris: Seghers, 1983. ———. Max Ernst. Paris: Somogy, 1992. ———. Le Surréalisme et le rêve. Paris: Gallimard, 1974. Alleau, René. Aspects de l’alchimie traditionelle. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1953. ———. Histoire des sciences occultes. Genève: Edito Service, 1965. ———. “Psychanalyse et alchimie.” Medium n.s., no. 3 (May 1954): 43 – 44. Allendy, René. Le Grand-oeuvre thérapeutique des alchimistes et les principes de l’homeopathie. Paris: Voile d’Isis, 1920. ———. “L’Occultisme nouveau.” Le Voile d’Isis 14th ser. (1920): 3. ———. Rêves et leur interprétation psychoanalytique. Paris: Félix Alcan, 1926. Amadou, Robert. Le Feu de Soleil: Entretien sur l’alchimie avec Eugène Canseliet. Paris: Pauvert, 1978. André Breton: La Beauté convulsive. Exh. cat. Paris: Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1991. André, Marie-Sophie, and Christophe Beaufils. Papus biographie: La Belle Epoque de l’occultisme. Paris: Berg, 1995. Aragon, Louis. “Entrée des succubes.” La Révolution surréaliste 2, no. 6 (March 1, 1926): 10 –13. ———. “Max Ernst: Peintre des illusions.” 1923. Reprinted in Les Collages, 26 – 33. Paris: Hermani, 1965. ———. La Peinture au défi. Exh. cat. Paris: Librairie José Corti, 1930. ———. “Project d’histoire littéraire contemporaine.” Littérature n.s., no. 4 (September 1, 1922): 3 – 6. Artaud, Antonin. “Lettre à la voyante.” La Révolution surréaliste 2, no. 8 (December 1, 1926): 16 –18. ———. “Le Théâtre alchimique,” 71–78. In Le Théâtre et son double. Paris: Gallimard, 1966. Assa, Sonia. “Of Hairdressers and Kings: Ready-made Revelation in Les Malheurs des immortels.” French Review 64, no. 3 (February 1991): 643 – 658. Atwood, Mary Anne. A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery. Introduction by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst. 1850. Reprint, Belfast: William Tate, 1920. Baatsch, Henri-Alexis. “La Légende rhénane de Max Ernst.” XX e Siècle 48 (June 1977): 66 –70.


max er nst and alchemy ———. “Perspective imaginaire de la ville.” XX e Siècle 39 (June 1977): 127–129. Balke, Prof. Dr. Franz. Letter to Werner Spies from May 5, 1970, reproduced in Max Ernst in Köln (1980), 66 – 67. Baron, Jacques. L’An I du surréalisme. Paris: Denoël, 1969. Barrière, Gérard. “Max Ernst.” Connaissance des Arts 280 (June 1975): 78 – 89. Barron, Stephanie, with Sabine Eckmann. Exiles ⫹ Emigrés. Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1997. Bauer, Gerd. “Max Ernsts Collageroman, Une Semaine de Bonté.” Wallraf-RichartzJahrbuch 39 (1977): 237– 257. ———. “Max Ernsts Gemälde Au Rendez-vous des amis.” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 45 (1984): 231– 255. ———. “Die Surrealisten und Sigmund Freud.” Jahresring 27 (1980 –1981): 139–154. ———. “Wie liest man einen Collageroman? Zu Max Ernsts ‘La femme 100 têtes,’” 51–73. In Max Ernst: Illustrierte Bücher und Druckgraphische Werke. Cologne: Wienand, 1989. Béguin, Albert. “L’Androgyne.” Minotaure 4, no. 11 (1938): 10 –13, 66. Belton, Robert. The Beribboned Bomb. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1995. Benayoun, Robert. Erotique du surréalisme. Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1965. Benson, Timothy. “Mysticism, Materialism and the Machine in Berlin Dada.” Art Journal 46 (Spring 1987): 46 –55. Bergeron, Jules. “Formation des cratères de la lune.” La Nature 10, no. 486 (September 23, 1882): 272. Bergman-Carton, Janis. “The Medium Is the Medium: Jules Bois, Spiritualism and the Esoteric Interest of the Nabis.” Arts Magazine 61 (December 1986): 24 – 29. Berman, Morris. The Reenchantment of the World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Bantam Edition, 1984. Berthelot, Marcellin. La Chimie au moyen âge. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1893. ———. Collection des anciens alchimistes Grecs. 3 vols. Paris: G. Steinheil, 1888. ———. Les Origines de l’alchimie. Paris: G. Steinheil, 1885. Biblioteca Esoterica. Paris: Dorbon-aîné, 1940. Bila, Constantin. La Croyance à la magie au XVIII e siècle en France dans les contes, romans et traités. Paris: Gamber, 1925. Blavier, Béatrix. “Max Ernst: Murals for the Home of Paul and Gala Eluard, Eaubonne, 1923.” M.A. thesis, Rice University, 1985. Boirac, Emile. La Psychologie inconnu. Paris: Félix Alcan, 1920. Bonnet, Marguerite. André Breton: Naissance de l’aventure surréaliste. Paris: José Corti, 1975. Bosc, Ernest. La Psychologie devant la science et les savants. Paris: Daragon, 1908. Bosquet, Alain. “Le Bonheur de Max Ernst.” Quadrum V (1958): 11– 22. Bounoure, Vincent. “Préface a une traité des matrices.” le surréalisme, même 4 (Spring 1958): 12 – 25. Bousquet, Joë. “Extract of a Letter from Joë Bousquet, Poet, to the Nymph Echo,” 11–12. In At Eye Level—Paramyths. Exh. cat. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Copley Galleries, 1949. Brassaï [Gyula Halász]. The Secret Paris of the 30s. Translated by Richard Miller. New York: Pantheon Books, 1976. Breton, André. “Avis au lecteur.” La Femme 100 têtes. 1929. Reprint, Paris: Editions de l’Oeil, 1956.


selec ted bibliography ———. “La Beauté sera convulsive.” Minotaure 2 (May 1934): 9–16. ———. “Le Chateau étoilé.” Minotaure 8 (1936): 25 – 40. ———. “Entrée des médiums.” Littérature n.s., no. 6 (November 1, 1922): 1–16. ———. “Idées d’un peintre,” 105 –110. In Les Pas perdus. Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1924. ———. “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst.” View 2, no. 1, Special Ernst Issue (April 1942): 5 –7. ———. “Lettre aux voyantes.” La Révolution surréaliste 1 (October 15, 1925): 20 – 22. ———. “Manifeste du surréalisme” (1924), 15 –55. In Manifestes du surréalisme. Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1962. ———. Nadja. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Grove Press, 1960. ———. “La Nuit du tournesol.” Minotaure 2 (1935): 48 –55. ———. “L’Objet fantôme.” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 3 (December 1931): 21. ———. “Originality and Freedom.” Art in Australia (December–January– February 1941–1942): 206 – 208. In André Breton: What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings. Edited and introduced by Franklin Rosemont. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1978. ———. “Poisson soluble” (1924), 67–139. In Manifestes du surréalisme. Paris: JeanJacques Pauvert, 1962. ———. “Second manifeste du surréalisme.” La Révolution surréaliste 5, no. 12 (December 15, 1929): 1–17. ———. Surrealism and Painting (1928). Translated by Simon Watson Taylor. London: Macdonald & Co., 1972. ———. What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings. Edited and introduced by Franklin Rosemont. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1978. Burckhardt, Titus. Alchemie, Sinn und Weltbild. Olten: Walter-Verlag, 1960. Burhan, Filiz E. “Vision and Visionaries: Nineteenth Century Psychological Theory. The Occult Sciences and the Formation of the Symbolist Aesthetic in France.” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1979. Burnham, Jack. “Duchamp’s Bride Stripped Bare.” Arts Magazine 46 (March 1972): 28 – 32; (April 1972): 41– 45; and (May 1972): 58 – 61. Butler, E. M. The Myth of the Magus. 1948. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Caillet, Albert. Manuel bibliographique des sciences psychiques ou occultes. 3 vols. Paris: Dorbonaîné, 1912. Caillois, Roger. “La Mante religieuse.” Minotaure 5 (1934): 23 – 26. ———. “Mimétisme et psychasthénie légendaire.” Minotaure 7 (1935): 4 –10. Calas, Nicolas. “And Her Body Became Enormous Luminous and Splendid.” View 2, no. 1, Special Ernst Issue (April 1942): 20 – 21. ———. Foyers d’incendie. Paris: Les Editions Denoël, 1938. ———. “A Tough Nut to Crack.” Artforum 13 (May 1975): 51–52. Camfield, William A. Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism. Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1993. Canseliet, Eugène. Alchimie: Etudes diverse de symbolisme hermétique et de pratique philosophale. Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1964. ———. Deux logis alchimiques en marge de la science et de l’histoire. Paris: J. Schemit, 1945. ———. “Introduction aux douze clés de philosophie.” Medium n.s., no. 4 (January 1955): 32, 41– 42.


max er nst and alchemy Carbonelli, Giovanni. Sulle fonti storiche della chimica e dell’alchimia in Italia. Rome: Istituto nazionale medico farmacologico, 1925. Caron, Michel, and Serge Hutin. Les Alchimistes. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1959. Carrington, Leonora. “The Bird Superior Max Ernst.” View 2, no. 1, Special Ernst Issue (April 1942): 13. ———. Down Below. Chicago: Black Swan Press, 1983. ———. The House of Fear. Introduction by Marina Warner. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1988. ———. The Seventh Horse, and Other Tales. Translated by Kathrine Talbot and Anthony Kerrigan. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1988. Cauzons, Thomas de [pseud.]. La Magie et la sorcellerie en France. Paris: Dorbon-aîné, [1911?]. Caws, Mary Ann. “Person: Tanning’s Self-Portraiture,” 61– 93. In The Surrealist Look. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997. Caws, Mary Ann, Rudolf E. Kuenzli, and Gwen Raaberg, editors. Surrealism and Women. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991. Chacornac, Paul. Eliphas Lévi, 1810 –1875: Rénovateur de l’occultisme en France. Paris: Chacornac Frères, 1926. Chadwick, Whitney. “Leonora Carrington: Evolution of a Feminist Consciousness.” Woman’s Art Journal 7 (Spring– Summer 1986): 37– 42. ———. Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. New York: Little, Brown, 1985. Chirico, Giorgio de. Hebdomeros. Translated by Margaret Crosland. London: Peter Owen, 1964. Clarke, Lindsay. The Chemical Wedding. London: Pan Books, 1990. Collin de Plancy, Jacques. Dictionnaire Infernal. 1863. Reprint, Geneva: Slatkine, 1980. Cooper, J. C. Chinese Alchemy. New York: Sterling, 1990. Copenhaver, Brian P. Hermetica. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Coudert, Allison. Alchemy: The Philosopher’s Stone. London: Wildwood House, 1980. Crevel, René. “The Period of Sleeping Fits.” This Quarter 5, no. 1, Surrealist Number (September 1932): 181–188. Cyliani. Hermès dévoilé. 1832. Reprint, Paris: Editions Traditionnelles, 1991. Danier, Richard. “André Breton et l’hermétisme alchimique.” Question de 2 (1976): 47–57. Darmstaedter, Ernst. Die Alchemie des Geber. Berlin: J. Springer, 1922. Dee, John. “La Monade hieroglyphique, de John Dee (traduit du latin par Grillot de Givry).” La Révolution surréaliste, nos. 9–10 (October 1, 1927): 61– 63. Delamain, Jacques. “Oiseaux de nuit, chouettes et hiboux.” Minotaure, no. 7 (1935): 42 – 47. Derenthal, Ludger. “Max Ernst: Trois tableaux d’amitié.” Les Cahiers du Musée National d’Art Moderne 31 (Spring 1990): 92 – 93. ———. “Mitteilungen über Flugzeuge, Engel und den Weltkrig. Zu den Photocollagen der Dadazeit von Max Ernst,” 41– 60. In Im Blickfeld: Konstrucktionen der Moderne. Hamburg: Christians, 1994. ———. “Muskelmänner und Sternenbilder.” Kunst und Antiquitäten, no. 4 (April 1991): 48 –53. Derenthal, Ludger, and Jürgen Pech. Max Ernst. Translated by Wolf Fruhtrunk. Paris: Casterman, 1992.


selec ted bibliography Dering, Peter. Max Ernst und Bonn: Student, Kritiker, Rheinischer Expressionist. Exh. cat. Bonn: Verein August Macke Haus, 1994. Desnos, Robert. “Le Mystère d’Abraham Juif.” Documents 5 (1929): 233 – 239. Dieckhöfer, Klemens. “Medizinische Aspekte im Oeuvre von Max Ernst,” 70 –73. In Max Ernst in Köln (1980). Dobbs, Betty Jo Teeter. The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton’s Thought. Cambridge: University Press, 1991. Dryer, Peter. “Bruegels Alchimist von 1558: Versuch einer Deutung ad Sensum Mysticum.” Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 19 (1977): 69–113. Ducornet, Guy. Le Punching-Ball et la vache à lait: La Critique universitaire nord-américaine face au surréalisme. Angers: Deleatur, 1992. Dupin, Jacques. “Les Dernières Peintures de Max Ernst.” Cahiers d’Art 28 (1953): 93 – 99. Elderfield, John. “Dada: A Code for Saints?” Artforum 12 (February 1974): 46 – 47. Eliade, Mircea. Forgerons et alchimistes. Paris: Flammarion, 1956. Eluard, Paul. Capitale de la douleur / Au défaut du silence. Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1926. ———. Lettres à Gala, 1924 –1948. Paris: Gallimard, 1984. Ernst, Jimmy. A Not-So-Still Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984. Ernst, Luise Straus. “Nomadengut,” 295 – 296. In Max Ernst in Köln (1980). ———. Zur Entwicklung des zeichnerischen Stils in der Cölner Goldschmiedekunst des XII Jahrhunderts. Strassburg: Heitz & Mündel, 1917. “Erutarettil.” Littérature, nos. 11–12 (October 15, 1923): 24 – 25. Everling, Germaine. L’Anneau de Saturne. Paris: Fayard, 1970. Fabricius, Johannes. Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemists and Their Royal Art. London: Aquarian Press, 1975. Figuier, Louis. L’Alchimie et les alchimistes. 1854. Reprint, Paris: Denoël, 1970. Fischer, Lothar. Max Ernst in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten. Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1969. Flamand, Elie-Charles. La Tour Saint-Jacques. Paris: Lettera Amorosa, 1973. Flammarion, Camille. Astronomie populaire. Paris: C. Marpon and E. Flammarion, 1890. Flournoy, Theodore. Spiritism and Psychology. Translated and abridged by Hereward Carrington. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1911. Formentelli, Elaine. “Max Ernst—Paul Eluard ou l’impatience du désir.” Revue des Sciences Humaines 164 (1976): 487–504. Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). Translated by James Strachey. New York: Avon, 1965. ———. Leonardo da Vinci: A Study in Psychosexuality. Translated by A. A. Brill. New York: Vintage, 1947. ———. Totem and Taboo. Translated by James Strachey. New York: W. W. Norton, 1950. Frobenius, Leo. Das Zeitalter des Sonnengottes. Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1904. Fulcanelli [pseud.]. Les Demeures philosophales et le symbolisme hermétique dans ses rapports avec l’art sacré et l’ésotérisme du Grand-Oeuvre (1930). Rev. ed. Augmented by Eugène Canseliet. Paris: Pauvert, 1965. ———. Le Mystère des cathédrales et l’interprétation ésotérique des symboles hermétiques du GrandOeuvre (1926). Translated by Mary Sworder. London: Spearman, 1971.


max er nst and alchemy Gablik, Suzi. “The Snake Paradise: Evolutionism in the Landscapes of Max Ernst.” Art in America 63 (May 1975): 34 – 39. Gaehtgens, Thomas. “Das ‘Märchen von Schöpfertum des Künstlers’: Anmerkungen zu den Selbstbildnissen Max Ernsts und zu Loplop,” 43 –78. In Max Ernst: Retrospektiv 1979. Exh. cat. Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1979. Gagnon, Claude. Nicolas Flamel sous investigation. Québec: Editions de Loup de Gouttière, 1994. Ganzenmüller, W. “Wandlungen in der Geschichtlichen betrachtung der Alchimie.” Chymia 3 (1950): 143 –154. Gateau, Jean-Charles. Paul Eluard et la peinture surréaliste (1910 –1939). Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1982. Gee, Malcolm. “Max Ernst, God and the Revolution by Night.” Arts Magazine 55 (March 1981): 85 – 91. Gibson, Jennifer Ann. “Surrealism’s Early Maps of the Unconscious.” Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1985. Gilcrist, Cherry. Alchemy, the Great Work. Longmead: Element Books, 1991. Glover, Edward. Freud or Jung? New York: Meridian Books, 1956. Gorman, Peter. Pythagoras: A Life. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. Gray, Ronald. Goethe, the Alchemist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952. Greet, Anne Hyde. “Iliazd and Max Ernst: 65 Maximiliana or the Illegal Practice of Astronomy.” World Literature Today (Winter 1982): 10 –18. Grillot de Givry, Emile Angelo. Le Musée des sorciers, mages et alchimistes. Paris: Librairie de France, 1929. Grosseteste, Robert. “On Light or the Ingression of Forms.” Translated by Charles Glenn Wallis. View 4 (Summer 1944): 46 – 47, 50. Guggenheim, Peggy. Out of This Century. New York: Universe Books, 1946. Guillemin, Amédée. The Heavens. Translated by J. Norman Lockyer. London: Richard Bentley, 1872. ———. Le Soleil. Paris: Hachette, 1883. Haatan, Abel. Contribution à l’étude de l’alchimie. Paris: Chacornac, 1905. Hall, Manly P. Alchemy: A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Manly P. Hall Collection of Books and Manuscripts. Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1986. ———. An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy. San Francisco: H. S. Crocker, 1928. Halleux, Robert. Les Textes alchimiques. Turnhout: Brepols, 1979. Hartlaub, G. F. Der Stein der Weisen: Wesen und Bildwelt der Alchimie. Munich: Prestel, 1959. ———. “The Sun in the Sign-Language of Alchemy.” Graphis 18, no. 100 (March– April 1962): 138 –145, 264 – 265. Haven, Marc [pseud. Emmanuel Lalande]. Arnaud de Villeneuve: Sa vie et ses oeuvres. Paris: Chamuel, 1896. ———. La Maïtre inconnu Cagliostro. Paris: Dorbon-aîné, 1912. Hedges, Inez. Languages of Revolt. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1983. Helland, Janice. “Daughter of the Minotaur: Leonora Carrington and the Surrealist Image.” M.A. thesis, University of Victoria, October 1984. ———. “Surrealism and Esoteric Feminism in the Paintings of Leonora Carrington.” RACAR 16 (1989): 53 – 61, 102 –104.


selec ted bibliography Heller, Peter. “A Quarrel over Bisexuality,” 87–115. In The Turn of the Century: German Literature and Art, 1890 –1915. Edited by Gerald Chappel and Hans H. Schulte. Bonn: Bouvier, 1983. Henderson, Linda Dalrymple. Duchamp in Context: Science and Technology in the Large Glass and Related Works. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. Heyd, Milly. “Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus Reconsidered.” Artibus et Historiae, no. 10 (1984): 121–131. Hinton, Geoffrey. “Max Ernst: Les Hommes n’en sauront rien.” Burlington Magazine 117 (May 1975): 292 – 299. Hitchcock, Ethan Allen. Alchemy and the Alchemists. Preface by Manly P. Hall. 1857. Reprint, Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society, 1976. Hoefer, Ferdinand. Histoire de la chimie depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à notre époque. 2 vols. 1842 –1843. 2d ed., Paris: Didot, 1866 –1869. Hörner, Unda. Die realen Frauen der Surrealisten. Mannheim: Bollmann, Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, 1996. Hofmann, Werner. “Max Ernst and Tradition,” 7–18. In Max Ernst: Inside the Sight. Exh. cat. Houston: Rice University, 1973. Hohl, Reinhold D. “The Sun in Contemporary Painting and Sculpture.” Graphis 18, no. 100 (March–April 1962): 228 – 243. Hohler, Christopher. “The Badge of Saint James,” 48 –70. In Ian Cox, editor, The Scallop: Studies of a Shell and Its Influence on Humankind. London: Shell Transport & Trading Company, 1957. Holmyard, Eric John. Alchemy. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1957. Homage to Max Ernst. Special Ernst issue, XX e Siècle. New York: Tudor, 1971. Hopkins, David. “Geometry and Taxonomy in the Work of Max Ernst.” Lecture at the American College Art Association, Washington, D.C., February 23, 1991. ———. “Hermetic and Philosophical Themes in Max Ernst’s ‘Vox Angelica’ and Related Works.” Burlington Magazine 134 (November 1992): 716 –723. ———. Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst: The Bride Shared. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. ———. “Max Ernst’s La Toilette de la mariée.” Burlington Magazine 133 (April 1991): 237– 244. ———. “Zurich, Munich and Berlin: Böcklin, de Chirico, Ernst.” Burlington Magazine 140 (February 1998): 142 –144. Howard, Michael. The Occult Conspiracy. Rochester, Vt.: Destiny Books, 1989. Hubert, Renée Riese. “The Fabulous Fictions of Two Surrealist Artists: Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst.” New Literary History 4, no. 1 (Autumn 1972): 151–166. ———. “Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst: Artistic Partnership and Feminist Liberation.” New Literary History 22 (Summer 1991): 715 –745. ———. Magnifying Mirrors. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994. ———. “Max Ernst: The Displacement of the Visual and the Verbal.” New Literary History 15 (Spring 1984): 575 – 606. ———. “Surrealist Women Painters, Feminist Portraits.” Dada/Surrealism 13 (1984): 70 – 82. ———. “Traces of Transcendence: Masson, Ernst, Tapiès.” Word and Image 7 (April– June 1991): 165 –176.


max er nst and alchemy Hugnet, Georges. “Petite rêverie du grand veneur.” Minotaure 2, no. 5 (1934): 30. Jacob, Bibliophile [Paul Lacroix]. Curiosités des sciences occultes. Paris: Garnier, 1885. James, Edward. “The Marvel of Minuteness.” Minotaure 3, no. 9 (1936): 20 – 24. Janet, Pierre. L’Automatisme psychologique. Paris: Félix Alcan, 1889. ———. De l’angoisse à l’extase. 2 vols. Paris: Félix Alcan, 1926. ———. Névroses et idées fixes. 2 vols. Paris: Félix Alcan, 1898. Jean, Marcel. The History of Surrealist Painting. Translated by Simon Watson Taylor. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Jean, Marcel, and Arpad Mezei. Genèse de la pensée moderne. Paris: Corrêa, 1950. ———. Maldoror. Paris: Editions du Pavois, 1947. Jenkner, Ingrid. “The Collaboration of Max Ernst and Paul Eluard: A Surrealist Mode, 1922.” RACAR 7 (1980): 37– 48. Johnson, Kenneth Rayner. The Fulcanelli Phenomena. Jersey: Spearman, 1980. Jollivet-Castelot, François. Au Carmel: Roman mystique. Paris: Chacornac, 1920. ———. Destin, ou le fils d’Hermes. Paris: Chacornac, 1920. ———. La Fabrication chimique de l’or. Paris: Published by the author, 1928. ———. L’Hylozoïsme, l’alchimie: Les Chimistes unitaires. Paris: Chamuel, 1896. ———. Natura mystica ou le jardin de la fée Viviane. Paris: Chacornac, 1920. ———. La Science alchimique au XX e siècle. Paris: Chacornac, 1904. ———. La Vie et l’âme de la matière: Essai de physiologie chimique, études de dynamochimie. Paris: Société d’Editions Scientifiques, 1892 –1893. Jollivet-Castelot, François, editor. La Révolution chimique. Paris: Chacornac, 1925. Josephson, Matthew. Life among the Surrealists. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1962. Jouffroy, Alain. “Dorothea Tanning: Le Chavirement dans la joie.” XX e Siècle 36 (December 1974): 60 – 68. Jung, C. G. Mysterium Coniunctionis. Zurich: Rascher, 1955. ———. Psychologie und Alchimie. Zurich: Rascher, 1944. Kiesewetter, Karl. Faust, in der Geschichte und Tradition: Mit besonderer Berüchsichtigung des occulten Phänomenalismus und des mittelalterlicher zauberwesens. Leipzig: Max Spohr, 1893. ———. Die Geheimwissenschaften. Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich, 1894. ———. Geschichte des neueren Occultismus. Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich, 1891. ———. Der Occultismus des Altertums. Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich, 1895 –1896. Klossowski de Rola, Stanislas. Alchemy: The Secret Art. New York: Avon Books, 1973. ———. The Golden Game: Alchemical Engravings of the Seventeenth Century. New York: George Braziller, 1988. Knapp, Bettina. “Artaud: A New Type of Magic.” Yale French Studies 31 (May 1964): 87– 98. Knott, Robert. “The Myth of the Androgyne.” Artforum 14 (November 1975): 38 – 45. Kruuk, Hans. The Spotted Hyena. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972. Labry, Suzanne. “La Femme, l’amour, la poésie au XXe siècle.” Europe 42, nos. 427– 428 (November–December 1964): 85 – 93. Lake, Johannes auf der. Skulpturen von Max Ernst: Aesthetische Theorie und Praxis. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1986. Lamantia, Philip. “Hermetic Rose.” View 4 (Summer 1944): 51.


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max er nst and alchemy ———. “Sisters and Birds: Meaningful Symbols in the Works of Max Ernst,” 129– 146. In Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Art. Edited by Mary Mathews Gedo. Vol. 3. Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 1988. ———. “The Statue’s Toe— The Nineteenth-Century Academic Nude as Eros in the Work of Max Ernst.” Pantheon 47 (1989): 166 –172. ———. “Surrealist Persona: Max Ernst’s Loplop, Superior of Birds.” Simiolus 13 (1983): 225 – 234. ———. “The Thirteenth Chair: Max Ernst’s Capricorn.” Arts Magazine 62 (October 1987): 88 – 93. Strindberg, August. Bréviaire alchimique: Lettres d’August Strindberg à Jollivet-Castelot. Paris: Durville, 1912. Suleiman, Susan Rubin. “Artists in Love (and Out): Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst,” 89–121. In Risking Who One Is. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994. ———. “Leonora Carrington and Max Ernst,” 96 –117. In Significant Others: Creativity and Intimate Partnership. Edited by Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtivron. London: Thames & Hudson, 1993. Tanning, Dorothea. Birthday. Santa Monica, Calif.: Lapis, 1986. Tashjian, Dickran. A Boatload of Madmen. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1995. Tate, Brian, and Marcus Tate. The Pilgrim Route to Santiago. Oxford: Phaidon, 1987. Taylor, F. Sherwood. The Alchemists: Founders of Modern Chemistry. New York: H. Schuman, 1949. Teuber, Dirk. “Bibliotheca Paedagogica— eine Neuerwerbung im Kunstmuseum Bonn,” 35 – 49. In Max Ernst Illustrierte Bücher und druckgraphische Werke. Exh. cat. Cologne: Wienand, 1989. ———. “Max Ernst’s Lehrmittel,” 206 – 240. In Max Ernst in Köln: Die rheinische Kunstszene bis 1922. Exh. cat. Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1980. ———. “Répétitions,” 86. In Max Ernst Illustrierte Bücher und druckgraphische Werke. Cologne: Wienand, 1989. Thorndike, Lynn. A History of Magic and Experimental Science. Vol. 2. New York: Columbia University Press, 1934. ———. A History of Magic and Experimental Science. Vol. 5. New York: Columbia University Press, 1941. Trier, Eduard. “Homage to Loplop,” 34 – 39. In Homage to Max Ernst. Special Ernst issue, XX e Siècle. New York: Tudor, 1971. ———. Max Ernst. Recklinghausen: A. Bongers, 1959. ———. “Max Ernst und die Plastik des Surrealismus,” 66 – 89. In Schriften zu Max Ernst. Cologne: Wienand, 1993. ———. “Max Ernsts Vater Rhein und seine Quellen,” 485 – 493. In Bilderstreit: Widerspruch, Einheit und Fragment in der Kunst seit 1960. Exh. cat. Cologne: Museum Ludwig, 1989. ———. “Max Ernsts Waldeslust.” Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 46 (1985): 349– 365. ———. “Was Max Ernst studiert hat?” 63 – 68. In Max Ernst in Köln (1980). Tzara, Tristan. “Essai sur la situation de la poésie.” Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution 4 (December 1931): 15 – 23. Untitled list of preferences, Littérature 3 Année, no. 18 (March 1921): 1–7, 24.


selec ted bibliography Valentine, Basil. Les Douze Clefs de philosophie. Paris: Chamuel, 1899. Viatte, Auguste. Les Sources occultes du romantisme, illuminisme—théosophie, 1770 –1820. 2 vols. 1927. Reprint, Paris: Champion, 1965. Vieuille, Chantal. Gala. Paris: Favre, 1988. Vitt, Walter. Auf der Suche nach der Biographie des Kölner Dadisten Johannes Theodor Baargeld. Starnberg: Keller, 1977. Vowinckel, Andreas. “Max Ernst and Dada-Paris,” 304 – 318. In Max Ernst in Köln (1980). Wacker, Kelly. “Alchemy in Exile: The Alchemical Kitchen in the Work of Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo.” In Ohio Northern University, ONU Monograph no. 44 (Spring 1995): n.p. Waite, Arthur Edward. The Secret Tradition in Alchemy. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1926. Waite, Arthur Edward, and Pamela Colman Smith. The Rider Tarot Deck. Introduction by Stuart R. Kaplan. New York: U.S. Games, 1971. Waldberg, Patrick. “La Jeunesse de Max Ernst.” Mercure de France 330 (June 1957): 267– 299. ———. Max Ernst. Paris: Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1958. ———. “Max Ernst in Arizona,” 51–53. In Homage to Max Ernst. Special Ernst issue, XX e Siècle. New York: Tudor, 1971. ———. Max Ernst: Peintures pour Paul Eluard. Paris: Denoël, 1969. Waldegg, Joachim Heusinger von. Franz Henseler (1883 –1918). Exh. cat. Cologne: Rheinland-Verlag GmbH, 1977. ———. “Max Ernst und die rheinische Kunstszene, 1909–1919,” 89–106. In Max Ernst in Köln (1980). Waldman, Diane. “Max Ernst,” 15 – 61. In Max Ernst: A Retrospective. Exh. cat. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1975. Warlick, M. E. “Max Ernst’s Alchemical Novel: Une Semaine de bonté.” Art Journal 46 (Spring 1987): 61–73. ———. “Max Ernst’s Collage Novel, Une Semaine de bonté: Feuilleton Sources and Alchemical Interpretation.” Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1984. Watts, Harriett. “Arp, Kandinsky and the Legacy of Jakob Böhme,” 239– 255. In The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890 –1985. Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1986. Webb, James. The Occult Establishment. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1976. Weyer, Jost. “The Image of Alchemy in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Histories of Chemistry.” Ambix 23 (July 1976): 65 –79. Whiting, Charles G. “Eluard’s Poems for Gala.” French Review 16 (February 1968): 505 –517. Will-Levaillant, Françoise. “L’Analyse des dessins d’aliénés et de médiums en France avant le Surréalisme.” Revue de l’Art 50 (1980): 24 – 39. Wilson, Sarah. “Max Ernst and England,” 363 – 372. In Max Ernst. Tate Gallery, 1991. Wirth, Oswald. Le Symbolisme hermétique dans ses rapports avec l’alchimie et la Franc-maçonierie. Paris: Dervy-Livres, 1930. ———. Le Tarot des imagiers du Moyen Age. Paris: E. Nourry, 1927.


max er nst and alchemy Wolf, Marion. “Tic-Tac: The Early Imagery of Max Ernst.” Arts 49 (February 1975): 67– 69. Wolff, Charlotte. “Les Révélations psychiques de la main.” Minotaure 2, no. 6 (Winter 1935): 38 – 44. ———. Studies in Hand-Reading. London: Chatto & Windus, 1936. Wyss, Dieter. Der Surrealismus. Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider, 1950. Yates, Frances. Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964. ———. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. 1972. Reprint, London: Ark Paperbacks, 1986.


Index Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations and photographs. Abraham the Jew, 95, 100, 101, 200 Adam and Eve, 19, 209 Ades, Dawn, 235n82 Adorno, Theodor W., xvii After Us, Motherhood (Ernst), 153 Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius, 14, 20, 27, 81, 101, 102, 208 Air. See Birds; Elements Airplanes and airplane parts, 43, 155, 199 Albert the Great, 14, 26, 132, 208, 223n20 Albert the Great (Ernst), 208 Alcan, Félix, 239n44 The Alchemist (Bruegel), 20, 21 Alchemy: Androgyne in, 45, 46 – 47, 54, 60, 135, 137, 138; animal symbolism in, 10 –13, 20, 99, 112, 115, 121, 124 – 125, 141, 189, 197; and atomic theory, 24, 25; axiom of “solve and coagula” in, 212; banning of, 241n89; and Breton, 1, 32, 33, 91, 101–104, 199– 200, 229n60, 230n70, 241n71; and Carrington, 137, 161, 162, 164, 166, 216, 252nn73,76; cathedrals with symbols of, 30 – 31, 94; and charlatans, 19, 20, 241n89; Chinese, 32, 224n3; and colors, 13, 45, 51–53, 55, 60, 86 – 89, 91,

95 – 96, 99, 112, 117, 124, 164, 166, 191; compared with collage, 1, 5, 9, 47– 48, 134 –135; conventional wisdom on, xviii; and Dadaists, 66; definition of, 18; in Ernst’s autobiographical writings, 2, 7–10, 13 –17, 36; Ernst’s early exposure to, 36, 37– 38, 231n20; Ernst’s use of alchemical imagery, 1, 4 –5, 43 – 44, 48 – 60, 72 – 81, 86, 89– 90, 104, 105, 107–108, 111– 135, 147, 149, 153, 154, 166, 173, 187– 214, 216 – 217, 238n35, 256n23; gender and sexuality in, 1– 2, 11, 15, 19, 45 – 47, 51–52, 111, 112; glossary of, 261– 267; goal of, 182 –183, 214; history and revival of, 18 – 33, 222n15, 241n89; illustrations in texts on, 26, 29– 33, 94, 188 –189; imagery of, 10 – 13, 20, 30 – 32, 43 – 47, 222n15; and Jung, 23, 29, 32, 33, 225n11, 229n62, 246n53, 251n66; legend of, interpreted by Silberer, 27– 28, 44 – 46, 52, 147, 216; nineteenth-century texts on, 18, 21– 26, 222n15; novels on, 24 – 25; and number seven, 9–10, 13, 32; parodies of, 20, 21; Philosopher’s Stone in, xviii, 1, 2, 13, 15, 17, 19, 32,


max er nst and alchemy 52, 53 –54, 58, 75, 87, 89, 100, 102, 111, 125, 166, 182, 189; Philosophic Egg in, 11, 13, 58, 99, 173; Philosophic Mercury and Sulphur in, 1– 2, 11, 15, 19, 28, 30, 44 – 45, 47, 48 – 49, 51–52, 63, 75, 86, 89, 95, 112, 132, 137, 138, 147, 149, 162, 164, 166, 173, 182, 210, 214, 259n82; and planets’ associations with metals, 19; Primal Matter in, 1– 2, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 27– 28, 30, 44 – 45, 47– 48, 50, 52, 53, 55, 59– 60, 75, 112, 115, 121–124, 128, 130, 134 –135, 166, 178, 187–188, 189, 190, 191, 197, 201, 210, 211, 212; psychoanalytic interpretation of, 23, 27– 29, 32, 33, 44 – 47, 52, 55 –56, 59– 60, 229n62, 233n52; and scientific discoveries, 24, 25, 29; as spiritual path, 19– 20, 23, 28 – 29, 60, 182 –183; stages of, 13, 45, 60, 87, 89, 112, 124, 187–188, 189, 191; and surrealism, xviii–xix, 1, 2, 32 – 33, 81, 101–104, 216, 246n55; and Tanning, 254n108; twentieth-century texts on, 24 – 33; website on, 256n16 Alembic vessel, 99, 108, 111, 112, 133, 173, 176, 193, 214 Alice in 1939 (Ernst), 162 Allain, Marcel, 237n20 Alleau, René, 33, 216 Allendy, René, 23, 29 Allways the Best Man Wins (Ernst), 186 Almanach surréaliste, 258n72 Altdorfer, Albrecht, 230n12 L’Amour fou (Breton), 33, 242n93, 257n48 Andreae, Johann Valentin, 13, 203 Androgyne: in alchemy, 35, 45, 46 – 47, 54, 60, 137, 138, 166, 176, 178; in Berlin Dada, 233n54; Carrington’s use of, 159, 161, 251n66; in collage novels by Ernst, 112, 115, 121–124, 127; in Cologne Dada period of Ernst, 46 – 47, 54 –55, 58, 59, 141, 187; and creation myths, 133; and creative connections between Ernst and Carrington, 159, 160; Ernst’s use of, 2, 5, 60, 135, 153, 161, 181–182; and fusing of male and female elements,


117, 135; in House of Fear collages by Ernst, 159–160; in landscapes by Ernst, 212; Luise Straus-Ernst’s use of, 141; in “Paramyths” by Ernst, 178, 179; Philosopher’s Stone as, 166; in The Robing of the Bride by Ernst, 164 –166; in sculpture by Ernst, 130; Silberer on, 45 – 46, 181, 233n53; writers on, 133 –134 . . . And the Third Time Failed (Ernst), 111 Angel of Hearth and Home (Ernst), 155, 250n55 Animals: in alchemical symbolism, 10 – 13, 20, 99, 112, 115, 121, 124 –125, 141, 189, 197; hybrid animals by Ernst, 105, 132, 161, 171, 176; occult correspondences between animals and human personality types, 89, 90. See also Birds; specific animals Animism, 202 Anthony, Saint, 173, 196 –197, 204 Antichrist, 225n12 The Anti-Pope (Ernst), 168 –171, 169, 170 Aphrodite, 100 Apollinaire, Guillaume, 23, 37, 38, 62, 139, 236n5 Apollo, 68, 87, 178, 179, 189, 202 Arab scholars, 19, 26, 241n89 Aragon, Louis, 2, 40, 57, 62, 63, 92, 94, 106, 109, 145, 242n99 Arcane 17 (Breton), 33, 242n93 Architecture, 68, 71 Aristotle, 251n63 Arizona (Ernst), 258n66 Armada v. Duldgedalzen (Ernst), 140 –141, 142 Arnald of Villanova, 26 Arnim, Achim von, 34 Arp, François, 44, 106 Arp, Hans: in art by Ernst, 66, 71; and Cologne Dada, 43; death of, 258n69; on Ernst as magician, 2; and FaTaGaGa works, 105; friendship with Ernst, 38, 39, 41, 43, 57, 106, 207; and Luise Straus, 139; Paris studio of, 83; reading of Böhme by, 44, 256n21; sculpture by, 207; and Selig-

index mann’s marriage, 253n95; and Taoism, 233n49; writings by, 56 Artaud, Antonin, 91– 92, 133, 241n71 Artemis, 178, 179. See also Diana Artichoke, 50 –51, 52, 53 L’Art magique (Breton), 33 Art Nouveau, 39 Art of This Century gallery, 168, 172 Astrology, 17, 20, 23, 24, 26, 30, 45, 61, 68, 71–72, 83, 91, 112, 115, 133, 187, 189, 235n82 Astronomy, 68, 71, 112, 187, 211, 235n82, 238 – 239n38, 244n16 Athanor (furnace), 11, 12, 49, 80 – 81, 80, 111, 117, 244n17 Athena, 164 Atomic theory, 24, 25, 29 At the First Clear Word (Ernst), 89 Atwood, Mary Anne South, 22, 252n73 Au Carmel (Jollivet-Castelot), 24 – 25, 245n39 “Au delà de la peinture” (Ernst), 1, 5, 9, 134, 197–198, 222n8, 254n116 Audoin, Philippe, 230n71 Augustine Thomas and Otto Flake (StrausErnst), 141, 233n53 Aurenche, Marie-Berthe: in art by Ernst, 152, 153 –155, 182, 195 –196, 250n46; Ernst’s divorce from, 166; first meeting with Ernst, 149; and Gala Eluard, 149; and Jimmy Ernst, 153, 154 –155; and Leonora Carrington, 158 –159; and Luise StrausErnst, 154, 155; marriage of, to Ernst, 151–156, 166, 246n51, 249n37, 250n54; mental problems of, 154 –155, 158; opposition of family to Ernst, 150 – 151, 195 –196; paintings by, 151, 152, 155, 182; photograph of, 150 Aurora (Böhme), 44 Automatism, 9, 15, 27, 40, 65, 83 – 84, 90 – 91, 190 Baargeld, Johannes Theodor, 40, 41, 43, 66, 146, 233n53, 234nn58,65 Bachelard, Gaston, 33 Bailley, Edmond, 23

Balke, Franz, 37, 138 –139, 231n15 Ball, Hugo, 41, 44 Balzac, Honoré de, 133 Barlet, F.-Ch., 23, 24 Baron, Jacques, 64, 241n79 Baron brothers, 242n99 Baroque, 68, 91 Barr, Alfred H., Jr., 254n100 Bataille, Georges, 101 Baudelaire, Charles-Pierre, 133, 144 Bauer, Gerd, 3, 110, 121, 244n26 The Beautiful Gardener (Ernst), 147 Béguin, Albert, 133 Bellmer, Hans, 162 Bellows, 107, 244n17 Benayoun, Robert, 248n10, 258n73 Benjamin, Walter, xvii Bergeron, Jules, 245n43 Berlin Dada, 40, 106, 233n54 Berman, Morris, 225n13 Berthelot, Marcellin, 22, 29 The Bewildered Planet (Ernst), 204 Beyond Painting and Other Writings by the Artist and His Friends (Ernst), 220n2 Bierstadt, Albert, 205 Bill, Max, 128 Bird families, 149, 153, 171, 178 Bird Marriage (Ernst), 88, 99 Birds: as alchemical symbol, 11–13, 12, 32, 189, 193 –194; in Canary Islands, 199; in Carrington’s art, 159; death of Ernst’s pet cockatoo, 16, 43; in Ernst’s art, 43, 54–55, 87– 90, 88, 97– 99, 98, 105, 112, 113, 124 –125, 134, 149, 153, 159, 164, 165, 167, 171, 178, 186, 187, 190, 193, 194, 197, 201– 204, 207, 208, 211, 233n45; Freud on, 234n69; Loplop, 16, 60, 87, 110, 111, 115, 127–128, 132, 135, 149, 151–153, 171, 183, 223n10; and Poinsot’s personality types, 89, 90; in Tanning’s art, 175. See also specific birds Birthday (Tanning), 172, 254n99 Birth of Venus (Cabanel), 209 Black Dove, Pale Dove (Ernst), 87 Blavier, Béatrix, 3 The Blink of an Eye (Ernst), 191


max er nst and alchemy Blue Monkey (Ernst), 80, 89 Böhme, Jacob, 25, 44, 84, 133, 191, 226n21, 233n49, 240n61, 256n21 Bois, Jules, 23 Bosch, Hieronymus, 30, 230n12 Bosquet, Alain, 89– 90, 208 Bosschère, Jean de, 134 Boué, Valentine, 128, 153 Bousquet, Joë, 134, 136 Boyle, Kay, 167, 171 Brant, Sebastian, 225n12 Brassaï [Gyula Halász], 99, 242n93, 257n46 Brauner, Victor, 216 Brentano, Clemens, 34 Breton, André: and alchemy, 1, 14, 32, 33, 91, 199– 200, 229n60, 230n70, 241n71; and “Bretonophobia,” xiv; and Calas’s works, 32; and collage novels, 109; conflict between Eluard and, 8; and cryptesthesia, 243n109; death of, 230n70; and demise of Dada, 57; Eluard’s initial meeting with, 236n5; on Ernst, 2, 8, 9–10, 183; and Ernst’s collages, 106; and Ernst’s Men Shall Know Nothing of This, 72; and exclusion of Ernst from surrealism, 258n73; and Freud, 57; and Gala Eluard, 144; and Galerie Au Sans Pareil exhibition (1921), 57; on German writers, 222n5; on goals of surrealism compared with alchemy, 1, 32; and Jacqueline Lamba, 198 – 199, 200; and Janet’s works, 27; and Lautréamont, 144; and Littérature, 62; Marie-Berthe Aurenche’s portrait of, 151; and occult, 90 – 91; and palmistry, 62, 133; in Rendezvous of Friends by Ernst, 66, 67, 71; on Rimbaud, 61; and séances, 63 – 65; Surrealist Manifestos by, xix, 1, 9, 32, 61, 83, 90 – 91, 101–104, 108, 127, 190, 216; term surrealism used by, 65; tombstone for, 91; in World War I, 61; writings by, 8, 9–10, 33, 63, 65, 90 – 94, 101–104, 109, 134, 171, 199, 222n5, 236n5, 242n93


Breton, Simone Kahn, 57, 63, 65, 136 Bretonophobia, xiv Bride images, 115, 117 The Bride of the Wind (Ernst), 166, 195 Bride of the Wind (Kokoschka), 256n31 Broadway Boogie Woogie (Mondrian), 203 Browner, Juliet, 176 Bruegel, Pieter, the Elder, 20, 21, 30, 230n12 Bruno, Giordano, 20 Bry, Johann Theodor de, 256n15 Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc de, 84 Buhle, Paul, xvii “Bulletin D” exhibition (1919), 43, 234n58 Bureau de Recherches Surréalistes, 62 The Burning of Bruno (Carrington), 252n73 But at This Moment the Apocalyptic Beast Was Death (Ernst), 241n89 Butterflies, 152, 153 Cabalism, 23, 24, 26, 33, 78, 100, 102, 171 “The Cabbage Is a Rose” (Carrington), 252n73 Cagliostro, 25 Cahiers d’Art, 2, 9, 133 –134, 161, 178 Caillois, Roger, 196 –197, 242n99 Calas, Nicolas, xiv, 9, 32, 181, 219n2, 254n112, 255n119 Calder, Alexander, 173 Callot, Jacques, 30 Camfield, William A., 3, 231n15, 232n34, 255n7 Canabel, Alexandre, 209 Canseliet, Eugène, 30, 33, 216 Caprichos (Goya), 110 Capricorn (Ernst), 132, 161, 178, 254n112 Carbonelli, Giovanni, 29– 30 The Carmagnole of Love (Ernst), 195 Carrà, Carlo, 41 Carrington, Leonora: alchemical imagery in works of, 137, 161, 162, 164, 166, 216, 252nn73,76; in art by Ernst, 162, 166 –167, 168, 169–171, 182, 200; children of, 253n91; divorce of, from Leduc, 253n91; education of, 156 –

index 157; emigration of, to U.S., 167, 168, 202, 252n79; emotional breakdown and hospitalization of, 164, 166, 252n79; Ernst’s relationship with, 132, 155, 156, 158 –164, 166 –167, 171, 201; escape to Spain by, 166 –167, 171, 252n79; family and social class of, 156 –157; hermetic references by, in View issue, 9; and imprisonment of Ernst, 162; marriages of, 167, 252n79, 253n91; in Mexico, 161, 166, 171, 252n73; paintings by, 158, 159, 161, 162, 176, 251nn60,67, 252nn73,79; photograph of, 156, 157; and SaintMartin sculptures in farmhouse, 132, 161, 164; sale of Saint-Martin d’Ardèche farmhouse by, 166; writings by, 158 –159, 166, 251nn62,65, 252n73 Carroll, Lewis, 34 Cartari, Vincenzo, 253n83 Castor, 72, 238n33 Castor and Pollution (Ernst), 72 Cathedrals, 30 – 31, 94, 210 Cauzons, Thomas de, 27 Cecilia, Saint, 70 Césaire, Aimé, xvii Cézanne, Paul, 35, 37 Chadwick, Whitney, 3, 248n9 Champagne, Julien, 228n57 Les Champs magnétiques (Breton and Soupault), 65 Charcot, Jean-Martin, 125 Charlatans or “puffers,” 19, 20, 241n89 Chemical Nuptials (Ernst), 176, 177 The Chemical Wedding (Ernst), 85– 86, 190 The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz (Andreae), 13 Chess, 132, 172 –173, 175 Chevreul, Michel Eugène, 26 Chicken, 125 “The Children of Mercury,” 68 –72, 69, 70, 125, 238n28, 256n14 “The Children of the Sun,” 256n14 Chimera, 153, 171, 250n45 Chinese alchemy, 32, 224n3

Chirico, Giorgio de, 41, 42, 50, 51, 66, 71, 94, 109, 236n3 Chiromancy, 23, 24 Christ and Christian symbolism, 13, 19, 89, 97– 98, 188 –189 Chrusecz, Maya, 57, 106 Clancy, Robert, xiv La Clé des champs (Breton), 33 Clemen, Paul, 231n15 Cocteau, Jean, xiv The Cold Throats (Ernst), 81, 82, 111 Collage novels, 5, 109–117, 120 –127, 132, 149, 154, 244n26 Collages: alchemical imagery in, 4 –5, 43 – 44, 48 – 60, 105, 107–108, 111– 135; Aragon on, 106; of Berlin Dada, 106; bilingual titles for, 35; collaborations between Ernst and Eluard, 58, 63; collage novels by Ernst, 5, 109–127, 132, 149, 154, 244n26; in Cologne Dada period of Ernst, 35, 47– 60, 105 –108, 140 –144, 186 –190; compared with alchemy, 1, 5, 9, 47– 48, 134 –135; cubist papiers collés, 106; Ernst’s attitude toward collage process, 106; Ernst’s self-portraits, 47, 141; Ernst’s thirty-nine collages of 1931, 117–120; FaTaGaGa collages, 43, 105 –106, 107; female nudes in, 108, 112, 171; on French history, 108; human dissections and anatomical diagrams in, 47, 75, 233 – 234n55; landscape, 186 –188; Loplop in, 110, 111, 115, 127–128; in “Paramyths” by Ernst, 178 –180; photographic, 106; scientific source material for, 48 – 49, 107; sexuality in, 43, 49, 50 –51, 54, 105, 111, 112 –117, 120 –127, 140 – 144, 186 –187; from wood engravings, 106 –107, 108 Collin de Plancy, J.-A.-S., 10 Colman Smith, Pamela, 22, 162, 225n19 Cologne, Germany, 13 –14, 15, 36, 37, 40 – 42, 57, 58, 207 Cologne Dada, 5, 14, 33, 35, 40 – 60, 72, 105, 128, 140 –144, 178, 186 –190, 221n11, 234nn58,65


max er nst and alchemy Colorado, the Medusa (Ernst), 207 Color symbolism, 13, 28, 45, 51–53, 55, 60, 86 – 89, 91, 95 – 96, 99, 112, 117, 124, 164, 166, 191, 212, 214 Communist Party, 103, 158 Conjugal Diamonds (Ernst), 190 Constellations, 187, 203, 235n82. See also Astronomy; Stars Cooper, James Fenimore, 34 Copenhaver, Brian P., 224n2 Cornell, Joseph, 216 Corpus Hermeticum, 18, 224n2 Courtesy of the Moon (Ernst), 258n66 Cranach, Lucas, 30, 164 Crevel, René, xvi, 2, 63 – 66, 70 –71, 133, 180, 241n89 Crowley, Aleister, 22 Crows, 12, 13, 89, 90, 189. See also Birds Cryptesthesia, 243n109 Crystal ball, 132 Cubism, 37, 62, 63, 106, 140, 186 Cyliani, 226nn21,29 Dada: and alchemy, 66; and astrology, 235n82; in Berlin, 40, 106, 233n54; in Cologne, 5, 14, 33, 35, 40 – 60, 105 – 108, 128, 140 –144, 178, 186 –190, 221n11, 234nn58,65; demise of, 57, 62, 63; factionalism within, 63; manifesto on, 57, 106 –107; in Paris, 41, 57, 62 – 63, 65, 66, 189; and séances, 63, 65, 66; in Zurich, 44 Dada au grand air—Der Sängerkrieg in Tirol, 57, 107 Dadafex minimus (Ernst), 141, 143 Dada Gauguin (Ernst), 44, 50 –54, 51, 89, 105, 133, 187 Dada Sun, Dada Forest (Ernst), 208 Dada Zentrale W/3, 43, 140 Dalí, Salvador, xiv, 146, 149, 197, 257n37 La Dame ovale (Carrington), 159; Ernst illustration for, 160 “Danger de pollution” (Ernst), 104 The Dark Gods (Ernst), 208 Darmstaedter, Ernst, 80 David-Neel, Alexandra, 251n66 Day and Night (Ernst), 202


Death and rebirth, 16 –17, 19, 28, 75 Debussy, Claude, 23 Decalcomania, 15, 160, 164, 200, 201, 215 Decrespe, M., 24 Dee, John, 100 Delaunay, Robert, 37 The Demi-fecund Ram Dilates Its Abdomen at Will and Becomes a Ewe (Ernst), 111 Demonology, 26 Derain, André, 91 Derenthal, Ludger, 3, 235n71 Descent of animals into the valley at night (Ernst), 186 Desire of a plant to cling (Ernst), 186 Desnos, Robert, 2, 63 – 67, 72, 91, 93– 101, 229n60, 237nn11–12,21, 239n49, 244n15 Destin, ou le fils d’Hermes (JollivetCastelot), 25, 245n39 Devils, 10, 96, 241n89 Diana, 87, 178, 179, 189, 202 Dinosaurs, 141 Dionysius, 198 Dionysius the Areopagite, 44 Disputa (Raphael), 66 Divination, 26, 30 Dominguez, Oscar, 160, 251n69 Dondero, George A., xv Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 34, 66, 70, 144 Doves, 87 “Down Below” (Carrington), 166, 253n85 Dragons, 11, 12, 30 – 31, 45, 47, 55, 67, 96, 97, 124, 141, 176, 178, 189, 197, 209– 210, 259n82 Dream analysis, 27, 28, 43, 50 –51, 234n69 Dreier, Katherine, 234n58 Drip painting technique, 171, 203 – 204, 215, 253n92 Dryer, Peter, 225n12 Duchamp, Marcel, 41, 64, 132, 133, 173, 234n58, 237n12 Dujols, Pierre, 228 – 229n57 Dupin, Jacques, 208 Dürer, Albrecht, 30, 140 Durville, H., 24

index Eagles, 11, 12, 13, 89, 91, 99. See also Birds Earth, 19, 32, 45, 72 –75, 91, 112, 117, 187, 190, 199, 211– 212 Earthquake (Ernst), 191 Eaubonne murals, 83, 89, 147, 240n51 Echo, 184, 197, 200, 201– 202 Eclipse, 74 –75, 117–118, 190, 191–194, 192, 207, 208, 212, 238n31, 245n42 Ecritures, 3, 89– 90, 259 Eggs, 9–10, 11, 13, 58, 99, 107, 125, 128, 130, 131, 173 Egypt, 18, 71, 128, 241n89 Einstein, Albert, 192 Elements, 19, 32, 45, 86 – 87, 91, 112, 121, 132, 187–188, 200, 206, 212, 224n3 The Elephant of the Celebes (Ernst), 108, 143 –144 Eluard, Cécile, 144 Eluard, Gala: in art by Ernst, 66, 72, 146 –149, 182, 190, 191, 195, 240n61; love affair with Ernst, 57, 58, 60, 63, 81, 83, 144 –149, 167, 207, 249nn32,35; and Man Ray, 249n30; Marie-Berthe’s insults toward, 149; name of, 238n33; and Paul Eluard’s reactions to Ernst’s relationship with, 57, 58, 60, 63, 64, 81, 83, 147, 249n35; photograph of, 146; physical appearance of, 145; psychic abilities of, 146, 147, 149; and Salvador Dalí, 146, 149; and séances, 64, 146 Eluard, Nusch, 156 Eluard, Paul: in art by Ernst, 66, 67, 72; as art collector, 83, 144; Breton’s initial meeting with, 236n5; collaborations between Ernst and, 58, 63, 107; and Communist Party, 158; conflict between Breton and, 8; and Dada circle, 144 –145; death of, 258n69; on Ernst, 2, 62; and Ernst’s move to Paris, 60, 63; Ernst’s murals for home of, 83, 89, 147, 240n51; and Ernst’s relationship with Gala, 57, 58, 60, 63, 81, 83, 147, 249n35; finances of, 83, 145; friendship with Ernst, 36, 57, 60, 63, 83, 149, 156, 158, 236n93; Gala’s early relationship

with, 144; and Man Ray, 249n30; marriage of, 144; and nude photograph of Gala, 147; and palmistry, 133; photographs of, 146, 157; in sanatorium, 144; and séances, 64 – 65, 237n17; writings by, 134, 245n40 The Emerald Tablet (Hermes Trismegistus), 18, 180, 189, 256n16 Emotion (Ernst), 258n66 Emperor Ubu (Ernst), 81 Encausse, Gérard. See Papus Enlightenment, 20 – 21, 22 Ensor, James, 242n98 The Entire Town (Ernst), 204 “Entrée des mediums” (Breton), 63, 65, 91 “Entrée des succubes” (Aragon), 92 “Epoque des sommeils,” 63 – 66, 81, 92, 93, 137, 237n17 Ernst, Jimmy: in art by Max Ernst, 141, 143; and Art of This Century gallery, 168, 172; birth of, 57, 141; and father’s arrival in U.S., 168; on father’s introversion, 248n16; father’s separation from, 60, 236n93; father’s visits with, 249n39; on Gala Eluard’s relationship with Salvador Dalí, 149; with grandparents in Nazi Germany, 156; and Leonora Carrington, 168; and Marie-Berthe Aurenche, 153, 154 –155; and mother’s death, 171– 172; in New York, 156, 168, 171–172; on nudes in art, 153; on parents’ first meeting, 248n14; and parents’ marriage, 57; photograph of, 145, 146; travels in Southwest U.S. by, 204 Ernst, Loni, 15, 16, 36, 43, 127, 136 Ernst, Luise Kopp, 13 Ernst, Maria, 15 –16, 127, 136 Ernst, Max: amorous relationships of, 36 – 37, 137–141, 144 –149, 155, 167, 178, 180 –183, 184, 248nn11–12, 250n46; arrests and imprisonments of, 7– 8, 162, 164, 201, 252n75; arrival of, in U.S., 7– 8, 167–168; artistic interests of, in early life, 15, 17, 34 – 35; autobiographical writings of, 2, 3, 5,


max er nst and alchemy 7–10, 13 –17, 36, 56, 180 –181, 220n2, 222n6, 230n7, 249n19, 254n116; birth account by, 7, 10, 13; childhood accounts by, 7, 8 –10, 13 –17, 75 –77, 79– 80, 184, 223n21; at costume party, 238n32; death of, 215; divorces of, 149, 166; and Dorothea Tanning, 172 –180, 204 – 205, 207, 254n101; early exposure to hermeticism and alchemy, 36, 37– 38, 231n20; early relationship with Luise Straus, 36 – 37, 139–140, 248n14; early relationship with Peggy Guggenheim, 167–168, 253n88; early trip to Paris, 37– 38, 231n20; education and college years, 34 – 39, 137–139, 230n7; escape from Nazis, 7– 8, 167; exclusion of, from surrealism, 207, 258n73; father’s relationship with, 14 –15, 34, 35, 43, 67, 75 –79, 184, 223n21; in France, 7, 8, 33, 37– 38, 60, 63 – 64, 147, 162, 207, 208, 209, 249n39; and Freudian theory, 2, 7, 35, 43, 105; and Gala Eluard, 57, 58, 60, 63, 81, 83, 144 – 149, 167, 249nn32,35; in Germany, 7, 8, 14 –15, 34 – 60, 207; hallucinations of, 15, 17; honorary doctoral degree from University of Bonn, 215; horoscope of, 10, 11, 223n13; and Leonora Carrington, 132, 155, 156, 158 –164, 166 –167, 200, 201; as magician of surrealist movement, 2, 8, 17, 34, 94, 175 –176, 180, 182, 216 – 217; and Marie-Berthe Aurenche, 149–156, 158, 195 –196, 246n51; marriage of, to Dorothea Tanning, 176; marriage of, to Luise Straus, 37, 40, 41, 57, 60, 137, 140 –141, 145, 187; marriage of, to Marie-Berthe Aurenche, 151–156, 166, 246n51; marriage of, to Peggy Guggenheim, 7, 168, 171, 173, 204; mother’s relationship with, 13; move to Paris, 63 – 64; Munich trip, 41; and palmistry, 133; personality of, 46, 60, 140, 182, 197–198, 233n52, 248n16; photographs of, 146, 150, 156, 157, 174,


185, 254n107, 258n72; physical appearance of, 89, 138 –139; portraits of, 151, 152, 162 –164, 163, 175–176, 182; psychology and psychoanalysis as interest of, 35 – 36, 44 – 45; reading by, 34, 35, 50; Saint-Martin d’Ardèche farmhouse of, 132, 161, 164, 166, 174, 178, 200; and séances, 39– 40, 64 – 66; and Second Surrealist Manifesto, 104; Sedona, Ariz., home of, 132, 173 –174, 205; siblings of, 15 – 16, 36, 43, 127, 136; son of—see Ernst, Jimmy; stroke suffered by, 215; and telekinesis, 94; Touraine home of, 208, 209; travels in Southwest and Western U.S., 204 – 207, 254n106; trip to Indochina, 83, 147, 191, 196; and Venice Biennale prize, 207– 208; in World War I, 36 – 37, 39, 40, 43, 46, 59, 140, 233n52; during World War II, 162, 166, 167, 168, 171–172, 201, 204 —art of, xviii, xix, 207– 208, 215 – 217; alchemical imagery in, 4 –5, 43 – 44, 48 – 60, 72 – 81, 84, 89– 90, 104, 105, 107–108, 111–135, 147, 149, 153, 154, 166, 173, 187–190, 216 – 217, 238n35, 256n23; and automatism, 9, 15, 84; collage novels, 5, 109–127, 132, 149, 244n26; collages, 1, 4, 9, 43, 47– 60, 105 –135; Cologne Dada period, 5, 14, 33, 35, 40 – 60, 72, 105 –108, 128, 140 – 144, 178, 186 –190, 221n11; critical acclaim for, 2 – 3, 208, 259n78; decalcomania technique, 15, 160, 164, 200, 201, 215; double portraits, 72; selfportraits, 47, 141; drip painting technique, 171, 203 – 204, 215, 253n92; early, 37, 38 – 39, 185–186, 231n24; exhibitions in 1919–1921, 43, 57, 62, 63, 106, 141; feminine images in, 66, 72, 81, 82, 111, 136, 137–138, 140 –144, 146 –150, 152 –153, 161, 162, 164 –171, 176 –183, 249n22, 250n46; first exhibits of, 37, 140; Freudian imagery in, 49, 50 –51, 54, 60, 87, 187, 239n42; frottages, 9, 15, 36, 39, 84 – 86, 88 –

index 89, 90, 108, 147, 149, 190, 191, 193, 199, 203, 215; grattages, 87– 88, 90, 100, 108, 149, 153, 190, 191, 193, 196, 215; influences on, 34 – 35, 37, 39, 41, 42, 230n12; and Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog, 42 – 43, 48, 49, 105, 186, 221n11, 232n39; landscapes, 149, 160, 168, 174, 184 – 214; Paris paintings, 66 – 81, 108, 147, 149, 190; phallic symbols in, 49, 50, 141–144, 187, 200, 209, 249n22; and poetry, 3, 178; retrospectives of, 2, 3, 208, 211, 215, 220 – 221n3; scholarship on, 3 –5; sculpture, 128, 130 –132, 161, 173, 178. See also titles of artworks and writings Ernst, Philipp, 14 –15, 34, 35, 43, 67, 75 – 79, 184, 223n21 Escaped (Ernst), 190 Euclid (Ernst), 178 Europe after the Rain (Ernst), 167, 201 Eve, 19, 209 Everling, Germaine, 144 Expressionism, 44, 186, 233n45 Ey, Johanna, 83 Eye motifs, 88 – 89, 147, 190, 191 Fabricius, Johannes, 253n83 The Failed Immaculate Conception, the Same, for the Second . . . (Ernst), 111 FaTaGaGa collages, 43, 105 –106, 107 The Father: Your Kiss Seems Adult, My Child (Ernst), 115 Fauvism, 37, 185 Feilgenhauer, Friedrich, 230n11 Feilgenhauer, Rudolf, 36, 230n11 Female figures. See Androgyne; Philosophic Mercury (Queen); Women La Femme 100 têtes (Ernst), 109–115, 117, 127, 244n19 “Femme-enfant,” 151, 154, 250n42 Femme et oiseau (Carrington), 159, 251n68 Fetal development, 133 Feuillade, Louis, 237n20 Fiat modes, pereat ars (Ernst), 41 Ficino, Marsilio, 20 Fidelin, Adrienne (Ady), 156 Figuier, Louis, 22, 23, 26, 29

Fini, Leonor, 137, 155, 255n119 Fire. See Elements; Sun First Memorable Conversation with the Chimera (Ernst), 171 Fischer, Lothar, 3, 250n54 Fish, 83, 87, 207, 211 Flamand, Elie-Charles, 230n71, 231n20, 258n73 Flamel, Nicolas, 23, 24, 30, 38, 66, 81, 91, 94 – 96, 99–101, 103, 154, 199, 200, 229n60, 231n20, 241nn84 – 85 Flammarion, Camille, 239n38, 245n42 Flaubert, Gustave, 34, 196 –197 The Flight (Ernst), 166 Flournoy, Théodore, 65 Flowers, 30, 75, 147, 149, 151, 152, 154 – 155, 254n108 Flowers and Fish (Ernst), 186 Flying, 43, 155, 234n69. See also Birds Ford, Charles Henri, 8 Forests and forest imagery, 184 –186, 187, 193 –196, 201– 202, 204, 208, 211 Forests and Jungles (Ernst), 184 Foster, Hal, 3 “Found Object” (Ernst), 128 Fourier, Charles, xvi, xviii France: alchemical sites of Paris, 37– 38, 61, 94 – 95, 95 – 97, 99–100, 199, 231n20, 241n79; avant-garde in, 37; collages of history of, 108; Ernst granted right to remain in, 151, 249n39; Ernst in Paris, 7, 8, 33, 37– 38, 60, 63 – 64, 83 – 84, 147, 207; Ernst’s home in Touraine, 208, 209; occult and alchemical revival in, 23 – 26, 30 – 31, 33, 61– 64; surrealists in, 7, 8, 33, 61– 62; and World War II, 162, 166. See also Paris Dada François I, 242n90 Frankfurt School, xvii, xxi Free association, 65 Freemasonry, 26 – 27, 203 French Symbolists, 35, 61 Freud, Sigmund: on animism, 202; and Breton, 57; on castration complex, 196; and dream analysis, 28, 50 –51, 234n69; and Eluards, 145; Ernst’s in-


max er nst and alchemy terest in theory of, 2, 7, 35, 43, 105; and hypnosis, 65; on Leonardo da Vinci, 89, 223n10; Oedipal theory of, 14, 17, 43, 45, 52, 54, 233n51; sexuality in theory of, 14, 15, 46 – 47; Silberer on, 27; surrealists’ interest in, 32; and union of masculine and feminine elements, 136; Wolf Man case of, 239n42 Freudian imagery, 49, 50 –51, 54, 60, 87, 187, 239n42 Friedrich, Caspar David, 230n12, 257n33 Frogs and toads, 141, 197, 205 Frottages, 9, 15, 36, 39, 84 – 86, 88 – 89, 90, 108, 147, 149, 190, 191, 193, 199, 203, 215 Fry, Varian, 7 Fulcanelli, 30 – 31, 32, 33, 94, 204, 210, 216, 229n57, 259n82 Furnace. See Athanor (furnace) Futurism, 37, 39, 186 Gablik, Suzi, 257n33 Galarza (Spanish mystic), 128 Galerie Au Sans Pareil exhibition (1921), 57, 62, 63, 106 Ganeau, Simon, 226n21 Garden mazes, 196 The Garden of France (Ernst), 209– 211 Garon, Paul, xvii Gauguin, Paul, 37 Gauthier, Renée, 64, 136 Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan), 27 Gee, Malcolm, 239n42 Gender. See Sexuality and gender Geometry and geometric forms, 56, 68, 176, 177, 178, 202, 208, 235n71 Géricault, Théodore, 207 German Romantics, 44, 66, 214, 259n87 Germany: alchemical revival in, 26 – 29; in art by Ernst, 207; Breton on, 222n5; criticisms of alchemy in, 21– 22; Ernst in, 7, 8, 13 –15, 34 – 60, 207; Independent Social Democratic Party of, 40; myths and legends of, 38 – 39; Nazi, 7, 8, 149, 155 –156, 171–


172; and World War II, 162, 166, 204. See also Cologne Dada Giacometti, Alberto, 128 Gila monsters, 176, 205 Giono, Jean, 167 The Glove (Klinger), 110 Gnosticism, 33, 241n89 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 20, 34, 233n49 Goujon, Jean, 95 Goya, Francisco, 30, 110 . . . A Grain of Wheat for the Making of the Host for Our Second Communion (Ernst), 115 Grattages, 87– 88, 90, 100, 108, 149, 153, 190, 191, 193, 196, 215 Gray, Black, or Volcanic Blacksmiths Will Whirl in the Air (Ernst), 112, 113 The Great Forest (Ernst), 193, 194 Green, Archie, xvii Grien, Hans Baldung, 30 Grillot de Givry, Emile Angelo, 30 – 31, 32, 94, 127, 128, 138, 189, 204, 210, 256n15, 258n59, 259n82 Grimm Brothers, 34 Gruenwald, Alfred F. See Baargeld, Johannes Theodor Grünewald, Matthias, 230n12 Guaïta, Stanislas de, 23, 24, 26 Guénon, René, 33 Guernica (Picasso), 250n55 Guggenheim, Pegeen, 168, 171, 204 Guggenheim, Peggy: in art by Ernst, 168 –169; and Art of This Century gallery, 168, 172; and Dorothea Tanning, 176, 254n101; early relationship with Ernst, 167–168, 253n88; and Ernst’s move to U.S., 7– 8, 167–168; Ernst’s separation from, 173; as feminine archetype, 182; and Leonora Carrington, 168; marriage of, to Ernst, 7– 8, 168, 171, 173, 204; photograph of, 169; trip to Southwest by, 204, 254n106; during World War II, 7, 167 Guillemin, Amédée, 74, 117, 238 – 239n38, 242n98, 245n42

index Haatan, Abel, 226n29 Haeckel, Ernst, 257n33 Halász, Gyula. See Brassaï Hall, Manly, 228n55 Hand imagery, 117–118, 120, 127, 245n41, 249n17. See also Palmistry Handprints, 235n84 Handwriting analysis, 133 Hansen, Miriam, xvii Hartlaub, G. F., 256n14 Hat in Hand, Hat on Head (Ernst), 186 The Hat Makes the Man (Ernst), 141–143 La Haute Science, 24 Haven, Marc, 24, 25, 26, 256n23 Headless female figures, 81, 82, 111, 141, 144, 151, 178, 245n34, 249n22 Hebdomeros (Chirico), 94, 109 Hedges, Inez, 241n71, 245n36 Heemskerck, Martin van, 68, 70 Hegel, G. W. F., xvi, 35, 103, 222n5 Heine, Heinrich, 139 Helland, Janice, 252n73 Hennings, Emmy, 41 Henseler, Franz, 39– 40, 41, 65 – 66 Hercules, 159 Here All Together Are My Seven Sisters (Ernst), 112, 114, 115 Hermaphrodite, 158, 233n53, 251n63. See also Androgyne Hermaphrodite (Ernst), 153 Hermes, 67, 68, 178 –180 Hermes Trismegistus, 18, 68, 71, 81, 189, 256n16 Hermeticism: and Corpus Hermeticum, 18, 224n2; definition of hermetic, 68; Ernst’s early exposure to, 36, 37– 38, 231n20; and surrealism, 68, 100 – 101, 132 –134, 171. See also Alchemy; Astrology; Magic; Occultism; Witchcraft Her Smile of Fire Will Fall on the Mountainsides (Ernst), 112 Heym, George, 39 Hinton, Geoffrey, 4, 238n35 Histoire naturelle (Ernst), 39, 84 – 86, 88 – 89, 147, 176, 186, 190 –191 Hitchcock, Ethan Allen, 22 – 23, 28

Hitler, Adolf, 149, 155 –156, 162 Höch, Hannah, 233n54 Hoefer, Ferdinand, 21 Hoffmann, E. T. A., 34 Hofmann, Werner, 3 Hogarth, William, 110 Hölderlin, Friedrich, 34, 222n5 Holzer, Max, 258n72 Hopkins, David, 3, 5, 203, 233n50, 235n79 Hordes, 149, 156, 193 Horoscope of Ernst, 10, 11, 223n13 Horses, 158, 159–160, 162, 163, 164, 168 – 171, 178, 194 –195, 256n31 The Horses of Lord Candlestick (Carrington), 253n88 The House of Fear (Carrington), 159–160, 251nn65 – 66, 253n85 Hubert, Renée Riese, xvi, 3 Hugnet, Georges, 133 Hugo, Valentine, 117, 120 Human Figure (Ernst), 128, 129 Human figures, 31– 32, 43, 128, 129, 176, 178 Husserl, Edmund, 35 Huysmans, Joris-Karl, 23 Hydrometric Demonstration: How to Kill by Temperature (Ernst), 48 Hyena, 158, 251n63 L’Hyperchimie, 24 Hypnosis and hypnotism, 27, 63 – 66, 70 –71, 237nn11,17 Hysteria, 27, 125 “Idées d’un peintre” (Breton), 91 Iliazd, 211 Illuminism, 20 – 21 Immortality (Ernst), 186 Indochina, 83, 147, 191, 196 L’Initiation, 24 Insects, 196 Inside the Sight: The Egg (Ernst), 97–98, 134, 153 Inspired Hill (Ernst), 207 The Interior of Sight 8 (Ernst), 117, 118, 120 Internationalism, xx–xxi


max er nst and alchemy International Surrealist Exhibition (1938), xiv . . . In the Incubation Rooms (Ernst), 115 Introversion, 45, 46, 47, 55, 60, 140, 166, 248n16 I Saw a Grand Duchess Who Lost Her Shoe (Ernst), 166 Italy, 29– 30 Jacob, Bibliophile, 23 – 24, 29 James (Jacques), Saint, 95, 99–100, 154 James, William, 133 Janet, Pierre, 27, 65, 196 Jarry, Alfred, 23, 158, 239n46 Jean, Marcel, 251n60 Jeanne Hachette and Charles the Bold (Ernst), 108 Jean-Paul, 34 Jesus Is Here (Ernst), 115 Jews, 19, 95 Johnson, Kenneth Rayner, 228n57 Jollivet-Castelot, François, 24 – 25, 26, 29, 226nn29– 30, 245n39 Josephson, Matthew, 66, 237n17 Journal du Magnétisme, 24 Journal d’un astronaute millenaire (Ernst), 211 Jung, Carl: and alchemy, 23, 29, 32, 33, 225n11, 229n62, 246n53, 251n66; analysis of myths and folklore by, 28 – 29; Carrington’s reading of, 252n73; and Nazism, 32; and palmistry of Charlotte Wolff, 133; and Silberer, 27, 45, 46, 229n62, 248n16; and surrealism, 32, 229n65, 246n53 Das Junge Rheinland, 37 Jungle imagery, 196 –197, 200 – 202 Kachina dolls, 176, 204 Kandinsky, Wassily, 37 Katarina Ondulata, 187 Kelley, Robin D. G., xvii Khnopff, Fernand, 37 Kiesewetter, Karl, 26, 227n41 Kiesler, Frederick, 172 King. See Philosophic Sulphur (King)


The King Playing with the Queen (Ernst), 132, 173 Klee, Paul, 37, 41 Klinger, Max, 110, 204 Klossowski de Rola, Stanislas, 225n11, 256n15, 259n82 Koehnline, James, xvii Kokoschka, Oskar, 256n31 Kölner Lehrmittelkatalog, 42 – 43, 48, 49, 105, 186, 221n11, 232n39 Koltanowski, George, 173 Konen, Raoul, 234n65 Kopp, Hermann, 21– 22, 29 Külpe, Oswald, 36 Labyrinths, 196 Lacroix, Paul. See Jacob, Bibliophile Lake, Johannes auf der, 246n54 Lamba, Jacqueline, 198 –199, 200 The Landscape Changes 3 Times (Ernst), 111 Landscapes: abstracted, 211– 214; alchemical imagery in, 187– 214, 256n17; Androgyne in, 212; in Cologne Dada period of Ernst, 186 –190; and decalcomania technique, 160, 200, 201, 215; by Ernst, 149, 160, 168, 174, 185–186, 202; forest, 184 –186, 187, 193 –196, 201– 202, 204, 208, 211; The Garden of France, 209– 211; geometric forms in, 202 – 203; jungle, 196 –197, 200 – 202; Leonora Carrington in, 168; Microbes, 205 – 207, 206; in Paris paintings, 190; relationship between earth and cosmos in, 211– 214; sexual imagery in and gendering of, 200, 202, 210 – 211; of Southwest and Western U.S., 205 – 207; during World War II, 201, 204 Landscape with Sun (Ernst), 185 –186 Large Glass (Duchamp), 234n58 “The Laugh of the Cock” (Ernst), 125, 126 Laugh of the Poet (Ernst), 211 Laurencin, Marie, 249n39 Lautréamont, Comte de (Isidore Ducasse), 23, 101, 133, 134, 144

index Leade, Jane, 182 A Leaf unfolds (Ernst), 186 Lebovics, Herman, xvii Leduc, Renato, 167, 252n79, 253n91 “The Legendary Life of Max Ernst” (Breton), 8, 9–10 Legge, Elizabeth, 3, 5, 191, 237n18, 239nn38,44, 240nn59,61, 256n21 Leiris, Michel, 100, 101, 242n101 Lenin, V. I., 257n48 Lenya, Lotte, 155, 250n46 Leonardo da Vinci, 36, 89, 100, 132, 223n10 Leonardo da Vinci (Ernst), 258n77 Leonora in the Morning Light (Ernst), 200 Leppien, Helmut R., 3, 193 Let’s Go. Let’s Dance the Tenebreuse . . . (Ernst), 115 “Lettre à la voyante” (Artaud), 91– 92 “Lettre aux voyantes” (Breton), 91 Lévi, Eliphas, 23, 26, 77–78, 79, 226nn21,29, 239n44 Levy, Julien, xiv, 172, 173 Lewin, Albert, 173, 204, 257n58 Liabeuf, 95 Libido, 55 Lindau, Ursula, 3 “The Lion of Belfort” (Ernst), 121, 122, 123, 124 Lions, 27, 52, 53, 55, 87, 99, 112, 121–124, 127, 134, 161, 189 Lippard, Lucy, 3, 239n40 Lippmann, Edmund O. von, 29 Lippmann, Friedrich, 238n27 Littérature, 62, 63, 81, 239nn47– 49 “Little Francis” (Carrington), 158 –159, 161, 252n75 The Little Tear Gland That Says Tic Tac (Ernst), 187, 208, 255n12 Lizards, 200, 205 Lochner, Stephan, 139, 230n12 Long Live Love (Ernst), 89, 240n50 Loplop, 16, 60, 87, 110, 111, 115, 127–128, 132, 135, 149, 151–153, 171, 183, 223n10. See also Birds Loplop Introduces the Members of the Surrealist Group (Ernst), 149

Loplop Paradise (Aurenche), 151, 152 Loplop Presents a Woman-Flower (Ernst), 153 Loplop Presents the Chimera (Ernst), 153 The Love River (Ernst), 191 Lucas, Louis, 226n29 Lull, Ramón, 22, 26, 81, 94, 207, 241n77 Lull (Ernst), 207 La Lumière, 24 Lunar Asparagus (Ernst), 130, 247n56 Maar, Dora, 181, 257n43 Mabille, Pierre, 133, 166, 230n71, 239n39 Macchab (spirit), 39– 41, 65 – 66 Macke, August, 37, 39, 40 Magic, 10, 13, 16, 17, 20, 23, 26, 30, 33, 107, 171 The Magical Head of the Zohar, 78 “Magic Art: A Conversation” (Carrington), 252n73 The Magician (Ernst), 107, 127 Magnetism, 61 Maier, Michael, 11, 252n76 Les Malheurs des immortels (Ernst and Eluard), 58, 63, 107, 108 Mallarmé, Stéphane, 23 Les Mamelles de Tirésias, 62 “Man and Woman” (Ernst), 239n49 Mandrakes, 128, 130 Mansour, Joyce, xvi Marcel, Saint, 30 –31, 210 Marceline-Marie (Ernst), 115 Marcuse, Herbert, xvii Marriage of Heaven and Earth (Ernst), 211– 212, 213 Marshall, Jon, 256n16 Marx, Karl, 103, 226n21 Marxism, xxi, 103 Masculine principle. See Phallic symbols; Philosophic Sulphur (King) Masons, 26 – 27, 203 Materia prima. See Primal Matter Maternity (Tanning), 174 Mathematics and mathematical models, 68, 176, 178. See also Geometry and geometric forms Matthews, J. H., xvi


max er nst and alchemy Mauer, Evan, 3, 16, 17, 110, 111, 233n46, 238n35 Maupassant, Guy de, 257n58 Maur, Karin von, 257n57 “Max Ernst” (Ernst), 56 Max Ernst Shows to a Young Girl the Head of Her Father (Ernst), 195 –196 Maximiliana, or The Illegal Practice of Astronomy (Ernst), 211 Max in a Blue Boat (Tanning), 175–176 May, Karl, 34 McCarthyism, xv McLean, Adam, 256n16 Mechelen, Isaac van, 258n60 Medium, 33 Memory of God (Ernst), 76 –79, 77, 99, 133 –134, 239n42 Menard, Pierre, 133 Men Shall Know Nothing of This (Ernst), 4, 72 –75, 73, 92, 107–108, 133, 149, 190, 191–192, 239n44, 245n42 Mentally ill, 35 – 36 Mercury, 19, 45, 68 –72, 94, 101, 125, 127, 180, 238n32. See also Hermes; Philosophic Mercury (Queen); Planets Merian, Matthäus, 188, 210, 256n15 Mermaids, 161, 162, 178 Mesens, E. L. T., 157 Mesmer, Franz Anton, 27 Metken, Günter, 3, 132, 250n53 Metken, Sigrid, 3 Mexico, 161, 166, 171, 252n73 Meyer, Ernst von, 21– 22 Miçkiéwicz, Adam, 239n47 Microbes (Ernst), 205 – 207, 206 Middle Ages, 19– 20 Miller, Henry, 9 Miller, Lee, 156, 174 Minotaur, 200 Minotaure, 132 –133, 164, 196, 198, 252n73 Miró, Joan, 83 The Mirror of Magic (Seligmann), 33, 223n11, 253n95, 256n15 Mitrani, Nora, 258n73 Mobile Herbarium (Ernst), 186 Modigliani, Amedeo, 181


Mondrian, Piet, 203 Monnier, Adrienne, 62, 133, 236n4 Monument to the Birds (Ernst), 89 Moon, 1, 19, 32, 45, 72 –75, 87, 107, 117– 118, 127, 153, 173, 176, 189, 190, 191, 194, 195, 205, 211, 212, 214, 238n31, 245n43, 256n17 Moonmad (Ernst), 173 Moran, Thomas, 205 Morise, Max, 63, 66, 71, 72, 89, 151, 242n99 Motherwell, Robert, 220n2 Mouvement flou, 40 Mumford, Lewis, xiv Munch, Edvard, 37 Museum of Modern Art, 254n100 Music, 68, 70 –71 Mussolini, Benito, 257n54 Myers, Frederic, 65 Mylius, J. D., 188, 191 Mysterious Egg (Ernst), 128, 131 The Mystery of the Golden Flower, 32 Mysticism, 20, 23, 44, 128 Nadja (Breton), 92 – 93, 94, 109, 236n5, 241n71 Native Americans, 176, 205 Natura mystica ou le jardin de la fée Viviane (Jollivet-Castelot), 25 Nature and natural cycles, 48, 86 – 87, 187, 190 –191, 198 – 200, 202, 205, 255n13. See also Forests and forest imagery; Jungle imagery; Plant figures and motifs Nature at Dawn (Ernst), 197 La Nature, 100, 107, 108, 117, 120, 243 – 244nn13 –14, 245n43 Naville, Denise, 65 Naville, Pierre, 65, 93, 242n99, 243 – 244n13 Nazism, 7, 8, 32, 149, 155 –156, 171–172 Necromancy, 30 Néon, 258n72 Nerval, Gérard de, 95, 144, 239n47 Neumann, Erich, 229n62 Neurasthenic patients, 196 –197

index New Age movement, 32 Newton, Sir Isaac, 20 New York School, xv Nietzsche, Friedrich, 35, 66, 189 “The Night of the Sunflower” (Breton), 199 Noll, Marcel, 242n99 Nostradamus, 108 Nostradamus, Blanche de Castille and the Little Saint-Louis (Ernst), 108 Notre Dame Cathedral, 30 – 31, 94, 210 Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg), 34, 62, 84, 222n5, 259n87 Novels. See Collage novels Nozières, Violette, 137 Nudes, 79, 108, 112, 138, 147, 151, 153, 164, 171, 197, 201– 202, 203, 204, 209– 210 Numbers, 9–10, 13, 32, 56, 94, 112, 114, 115, 121, 212 Numerology, 23 The Nymph Echo (Ernst), 197 Obrist, Barbara, 225n11 Occultism, 10, 16, 18, 23 – 29, 61, 62, 89, 90 – 91, 103, 216. See also Alchemy Oedipal theory, 14, 17, 43, 45, 52, 54, 233n51 Oedipus (Ernst), 130 Oedipus legend, 134 Oedipus Rex (Ernst), 108, 144 Of love in the inanimate world (Ernst), 186 Oiseau Janus (Ernst), 132 Old Man River (Ernst), 207 Omphale, 159 One Night of Love (Ernst), 153 Onslow-Ford, Gordon, 216 Open Your Bag, My Good Man (Ernst), 245n36 Oppenheim, Meret, 155, 250n46, 258n73 Order of the Golden Dawn, 22, 252n73 Otten, Karl, 35 Ouroborus, 5, 115 Oval Lady (Carrington), 161 Owls, 10, 164 –166, 169 Ox, 99 Ozenfant, Amédée, 157

Painting for Young People (Ernst), 202, 203 Palmistry, 62, 81, 133, 235n84, 236n4. See also Hand imagery Pan, 198 Papiers collés, 106 Papin sisters, 137 Papus, 23, 24, 26, 29, 228n54 Paracelsus, 26 Paraf, Arlette, 253n95 “Paramyths” (Ernst), 178 –180 Parapsychology, 27, 33, 36 Paris. See France Paris Dada, 41, 57, 62 – 63, 65, 66, 189 Pascin, Jules, 37 Les Pas perdus (Breton), 91 Paulhan, Jean, 63 Le Paysan de Paris (Aragon), 94, 109 Paz, Octavio, xvii Peacock, 12, 13 Pech, Jürgen, 3 Péladan, Joséphin, 23, 81 Pelicans, 12, 13, 97– 98, 99, 189. See also Birds Penrose, Roland, 128, 153, 155, 156, 157, 174, 246n55 Perception theories, 27 Péret, Benjamin, 62, 64 – 65, 66, 72, 132, 134, 200, 201, 242n99, 258n73 Periodicals: on alchemy, 24, 29, 33; hermeticism in, 132 –134; on science, 100, 107, 108, 117, 120, 243 – 244nn13 –14, 245n43; on surrealism, 62, 171. See also specific periodicals Perturbation, My Sister (Ernst), 144 Phallic symbols, 49, 50, 141–144, 187, 200, 209, 249n11 The Phases of the Night (Ernst), 205 Philosopher’s Stone, xviii, 1, 2, 13, 15, 17, 19, 32, 52, 53 –54, 58, 75, 87, 89, 100, 102, 111, 125, 166, 182, 189. See also Alchemy Philosophic Egg, 11, 13, 58, 99, 173 Philosophic Mercury (Queen), 1– 2, 11, 15, 19, 28, 30, 44 – 45, 47, 48 – 49, 51– 52, 63, 75, 86, 89, 95, 112, 132, 137, 138,


max er nst and alchemy 147, 149, 162, 164, 166, 173, 182, 210, 214, 259n82 Philosophic Sulphur (King), 1– 2, 11, 15, 19, 28, 30, 44 – 45, 47, 48 – 49, 51–52, 75, 86, 89, 112, 132, 137, 138, 149, 162, 164, 166, 182, 214, 259n82 Phoenix, 12, 13, 98, 189 Photographic collages, 106 Picabia, Francis, 41, 66, 144, 232n34 Picasso, Pablo, 37, 127, 151, 181, 250n55 Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni, 20 Pierre, Rémi, 25 – 26 Pieyre de Mandiargues, André, 4 “Pigeon, Fly!” (Carrington), 251n62 Planets, 19, 32, 45, 68 –75, 87, 107, 117, 119, 127, 189 Plant figures and motifs, 49–50, 128, 129, 152 –153, 155, 186 –187, 246n51 Pliny, 190 Poincaré Institute, 176 Poinsot, M. C., 89, 90 Point blanc (“white point”), 91 Poisson, Albert, 11, 24, 25 – 26, 29, 223n14, 226n29, 227n38, 240n60, 255n13, 256n17 Poley, Stefanie, 3 Pollock, Jackson, 171, 253n92 Pollux, 72, 238n33 Porta, Giambattista della, 239– 240n50 Portrait of Gala (Ernst), 147, 148 Portrait of Max Ernst (Carrington), 162 – 164, 163, 176, 252n75 Post-Impressionists, 37, 185 Powell, Kirsten, 245n41 Praying mantis, 196 The Preparation of Glue from Bones (Ernst), 57, 106 –107, 108 Pretiosa Margarita Novella, 53–54 Prezell, Lothar, 232n38 Primal Matter, 1– 2, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 27– 28, 30, 44 – 45, 47– 48, 50, 52, 53, 55, 59– 60, 75, 112, 115, 121–124, 128, 130, 134 –135, 166, 178, 187–188, 189, 190, 191, 197, 201, 210, 211, 212 The Prince Consort (Ernst), 153 Prinzhorn, Hans, 36 The Private Life of Bel Ami, 173, 204


Prometheus, 198 Psychiatry, 35 – 36. See also Psychoanalysis Psychics, 61, 65, 91– 92 Psychoanalysis, 2, 7, 14, 15, 23, 27– 29, 32, 33, 35 – 36, 43, 44 – 47, 49, 52, 55 – 56, 59– 60, 65, 233n51 Psychology, 27– 29, 32, 33, 35 – 36, 44 – 46. See also Psychoanalysis Puberty Approaches (Ernst), 72, 144, 187 The Punching Ball ou l’immortalité de Buonarotti (Ernst), 141 Purist movement, 157 Pythagoras and Pythagorean theory, 56 –57 Queen. See Philosophic Mercury (Queen) Queneau, Raymond, 242n99 Qui est ce grand malade (Ernst), 240n50 Quinn, Edward, 3 Radioactivity, 29 Rainer, Walter, 39– 40 Rake’s Progress (Hogarth), 110 Rank, Otto, 27 Raphael, 66, 70 Ray, Man, 64, 66, 93, 94, 133, 147, 156, 173, 176, 249n30 Read, Herbert, 157, 250n44 Rebis, 45, 46, 54, 55, 57, 99 The Red King (Baargeld), 234n65 Redon, Odilon, 23, 242n98 Rembrandt, 30 Renaissance, 20, 36, 68, 204, 214 Rencontre (Ernst and Carrington), 162 Rendezvous of Friends (Ernst), 66 – 68, 67, 70 –72, 75, 89, 146, 180, 189, 191, 256n24 Répétitions (Ernst and Eluard), 58, 63, 107, 108 Rêve d’une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel (Ernst), 109, 111, 115 –117, 154 La Révolution surréaliste, 100, 108, 243 – 244n13 La Revue Spirite, 24 Rhabdomancy, 30

index Rhenish Night (Ernst), 204 Ribemont-Dessaignes, Georges, 62 – 63, 134 Richebourg, Emile, 246n47 Richet, Charles, 65, 237n18, 243n109 Richet, Georges, 25 Rimbaud, Arthur, 23, 61, 62, 101–102, 103 The Robing of the Bride (Ernst), 162, 164 – 166, 165, 168 Rochas, A. de, 23 Rochester, Myrna Bell, xvi Rock sculptures, 128, 130 –131, 246n54 Rodin, Auguste, 36 Roditi, Edouard, 180 –181 Roediger, David R., xvii Roger, Bernard, 230n71 Roman-feuilleton, 109 Romanticism, 21, 34, 35, 36, 44, 66, 214, 259n87 Rooster, 125, 126 Rops, Felicien, 23 Roses, 30, 87, 147, 149 Rosicrucianism, 20 – 21, 23, 26, 27, 33, 61, 81, 203, 233n50 Rousseau, Henri, 34, 151, 197, 250n41, 257n33 Roussel, Raymond, 23 Ruins of Europe, 201 Russell, John, 2 – 3, 249n37 Sacco, Madame, 92– 93 Sade, Marquis de, 198 –199 Sage, Kay, 167 St. Cecilia (Ernst), 71 Saint-Martin, Louis Claude de, 239n47 Saint-Martin sculptures, 132, 161, 164, 174, 178 Sakolsky, Ron, xvii Salamanders, 96, 97, 115, 242n90 The Sandworm (Ernst), 142 San Francisco Renaissance, xv Saturn, 75, 101. See also Planets Saxl, Fritz, 242n101 Schamoni, Peter, 3 Scharf, Aaron, 3 Schlegel, Friedrich von, 34

Schneede, Uwe M., 3 School of Athens (Raphael), 66 Schrott, Raoul, 3 Schuré, Edouard, 23 Schuster, Jean, 258n73 Schwan, Balthazar, 86 Schwind, Moritz von, 230n12 Science and scientific discoveries, 24, 25, 29, 48 – 49, 84, 100, 107, 111, 245n43. See also Astronomy The Scissors and Their Father (Ernst), 58, 59, 89, 107 Sculpture, 71, 128, 130 –132, 161, 164, 173, 174, 178, 246n54, 254n112 Sea and Rain (Ernst), 240n59, 256n21 Sea and Sun (Ernst), 191 Seals, 141, 142 Sea mammals, 141, 142, 249n19 Séances, 39– 40, 63 – 66, 71, 91, 146, 237n17 Sédir, Paul, 23, 24 Sedona, Ariz., 132, 173 –174, 205 Sélavy, Rrose, 64, 237n12 Self Portrait (Tanning), 205, 258n61 Self Portrait: At the Inn of the Dawn Horse (Carrington), 158, 252n75 Seligmann, Kurt, 33, 171, 210, 216, 223n11, 253n95, 256n15 Une Semaine de bonté (Ernst), 5, 109, 120 – 127, 132, 134, 161, 192, 246n46 Serpents, 5, 55, 112, 115, 121, 124, 151, 178, 203. See also Snakes Seurat, Georges, 37 Seven (number), 9–10, 13, 32, 56, 94, 112, 114, 115, 121 Sexuality and gender: in alchemy, 1– 2, 11, 15, 19, 45 – 47, 51–52, 111, 112; in Cologne Dada, 46 – 47, 72, 140 – 144, 178; Ernst’s amorous relationships, 36 – 37, 137–141, 144 –149, 155, 167, 178, 180 –183, 184, 248nn11–12, 250n46; in Ernst’s collage novels, 112 –117, 120 –127, 154; in Ernst’s collages, 43, 49, 50 –51, 54, 105, 111, 140 – 144, 178 –180, 186 –187; in Ernst’s paintings, 72 –75, 87, 176, 180 –181, 209– 211; feminine images in Ernst’s


max er nst and alchemy art, 66, 72, 81, 82, 111, 136, 137–138, 140 –144, 146 –150, 152 –153, 161, 162, 164 –171, 176 –183, 249n22, 250n46; of forests, 184 –185; in Freudian theory, 14, 15, 46 – 47; in landscapes, 200, 202, 210 – 211; Lautréamont’s metaphor for sexual intercourse, 134, 144; nudes in art, 79, 108, 112, 138, 147, 151, 153, 164, 171, 197, 201– 202, 203, 204, 209– 210; painting as metaphor for sexual activity, 15, 75 –76, 180 –181; phallic symbols in Ernst’s works, 49, 50, 141–144, 187, 200, 209, 249n11; and plant images, 186 – 187; in sculpture by Ernst, 130, 161; in surrealism, 2. See also Androgyne; Philosophic Mercury (Queen); Philosophic Sulphur (King); Women Shamanism, 16 –17 Shell-flowers, 149, 152, 153 –154, 196, 250n46 Siegfried the Dragon Killer (Ernst), 39 Silberer, Herbert: alchemical legend interpreted by, 27– 28, 44 – 46, 52, 117, 147, 216; on Androgyne, 45 – 46, 181, 233n53; and botanical analogy, 50, 187, 190; and Ernst, 33, 44, 59– 60, 72, 75, 141, 189, 233n50; and Freud, 27; on goal of alchemical quest, 182 –183; and illustrations from alchemical manuscripts, 29, 45, 46, 75, 76, 190, 211, 247n66; on introversion, 45, 46, 47, 55 –56, 166; and Jung, 27, 45, 46, 229n62, 248n16; psychoanalytic interpretation of alchemy by, 23, 27– 28, 44 – 46, 47, 51–52, 54 – 56, 58 – 60, 182 –183, 233n51; and Rebis, 45, 46, 99; and Rosicrucian movement, 203 The Sleeping Gypsy (Rousseau), 250n41 Snakes, 11, 12, 55, 141, 197, 209. See also Serpents Société Alchimique, 24, 25, 33, 216 Solier, René de, 247n56 Solitude (P. Ernst), 184 “Soluble Fish” (Breton), 91


Sommeils. See “Epoque des sommeils” Somnambulism, 81 Sophia, 240n61 Sorcery. See Magic; Witchcraft Soul Mates (Ernst), 247n56 Soupault, Philippe, 62, 64, 65, 144 – 145 Souvestre, Pierre, 237n20 Space program, 211 Spain, 166 –167, 252n79 Spanish Civil War, 250n55 Spanish Doctor, Fat Horse and Young Girl (Ernst), 166 –167 Sphinx, 134 Spies, Werner, 3, 222 – 223n10, 232n37, 233n45, 234n58, 244n26, 246n53, 255n7 Le Spiritisme, 24 The Spirit of Locarno (Ernst), 108 Spiritualism, 23, 26, 27, 39– 41, 65 Stalin, Joseph, 257n54 “The Starry Castle” (Breton), 199 Stars, 31– 32, 45, 57, 87, 187, 203. See also Astronomy Stirner, Max, 34 Stokes, Charlotte, 3, 5, 9, 221n11, 223n11, 254n112, 256n24 Stolas, 10 Stone sculptures, 128, 130 –131, 246n54 Strange Hallucination (Ernst), 178, 179 Straus-Ernst, Luise: in art by Ernst, 140 –141, 142, 182; birth and parents of, 231n14; collage by, 233n53; death of, 172; divorce of, 149; education of, 36, 139, 231n14; Ernst’s early relationship with, 36 – 37, 139–140, 231n15, 248n14; Ernst’s offer of remarriage during World War II, 167; on Ernst’s personality change after war, 233n52, 248n16; Ernst’s visits to, after divorce, 249n39; as journalist, 40, 140, 248n15; and Marie-Berthe Aurenche, 154, 155; marriage to Ernst, 37, 40, 41, 57, 60, 137, 140 – 141, 145, 187; in Marseilles during World War II, 167; and move to Paris, 154, 156, 167; museum work of,

index 40, 156, 231n14; in Nazi Germany, 156; photograph of, 146; separation from Ernst, 60; son of—see Ernst, Jimmy; travels of, with Ernst, 41, 106, 231n15; during World War II, 154, 156, 167, 171–172 Strindberg, August, 24, 25, 62 Stuck, Franz von, 209 Submarine, 55, 72, 235n71 Succubi, 92 Sulphur. See Philosophic Sulphur (King) Sun, 1, 19, 32, 45, 72 –75, 87, 107, 117– 119, 127, 176, 186 –195, 199, 205, 207, 211, 212, 214, 238n31, 256nn14,17,24 Sunflowers, 199, 254n108 Surrealism: and alchemy, xviii–xix, 1, 2, 32 – 33, 81, 101–104, 214, 216, 242n99, 246n55; beginnings of, 61– 62, 93 – 94; characteristics of, xv–xvi, xviii; Cold War rejection of, xiv–xvi; contemporary scholarship on, xvii– xviii; definition of, 83; Ernst as magician of, 2, 8, 17, 34, 94, 175 – 176, 180, 182, 216 – 217; exclusion of Ernst from, 207, 258n73; and “femme-enfant,” 151, 154, 250n42; first uses of term, 62, 65; in France, 7, 8, 33, 61– 62, 83 – 84; gender and sexuality in, 2; goals of, 1, 32, 214; and hermeticism, 68, 100 –101, 132 –134, 171; and Jung, 32, 229n65, 246n53; misapprehensions of, xiii– xiv; new approach to study of, xx– xxii; in New York, 8, 168, 171, 172; politics of, xxi, 103 –104; popular usage of term, xiii; and radicalism of 1960s, xvi; and séances, 63 – 66, 71; symbolism of, 4; U.S. critics on, xiii–xvi, xix–xx; women in, 136 – 137, 151, 157–164, 172, 248n9, 250n42. See also specific artists Surrealism and Painting (Breton), 93 – 94 Surrealism and Painting (Ernst), 171 le surréalisme, même, 33 Surrealistische Publikation (Holzer), 258n72 Surrealist Manifesto (Breton): First, 9, 61,

83, 90 – 91, 190; Second, xix, 1, 32, 101– 104, 108, 127, 216 Swans, 12, 13, 189 Swedenborgianism, 20 – 21 Symbolists, 35, 61, 63 System of Solar Money (Ernst), 190 Tachism, 208 Taeuber, Sophie, 57 Tanguy, Yves, 173, 243n109 Tanning, Dorothea: alchemical imagery used by, 254n108; in art by Ernst, 182; and chess, 172 –173; education of, 172; and Ernst’s autobiographical writings, 220n2; first meetings with Ernst, 172 –173; marriage to Ernst, 176; and move to France in 1953, 207; paintings by, 172, 174, 175, 176, 182, 205, 248n9, 254n99, 258nn61,72; photograph of, 174; relationship with Ernst, 172 –180, 204 – 205, 207, 254n101; in Sedona, Ariz., 132, 173 – 174, 204 – 205; self-portraits by, 172, 205, 254n99, 258n61; Touraine home of, 208, 209; and travels in Southwest and Western U.S., 204 – 205, 207; visit to France in 1949, 207; during World War II, 172 Taoism, 233n49 Tarot, 23, 30, 33, 61, 146, 162, 176, 225n19 Teige, Karel, xx Telekinesis, 94 Tell Me Who Am I: Me or My Sister (Ernst), 115, 116 Tempel, Wilhelm, 211 Temptation of St. Anthony (Ernst), 173, 204 Teniers, David, 30 Teuber, Dirk, 3, 221n11, 232n37 Theosophy, 23 Thirion, 242n99 Thomas Aquinas, Saint, 14 Thorn-Prikker, Jan, 37 Tiffereau, Théodore, 26, 226n29 Time and Duration (Ernst), 205 Tintoretto (Jacobo Robusti), 208 Toads. See Frogs and toads Toorop, Jan, 37


max er nst and alchemy Totem and Taboo (Ernst), 201– 202 Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de, 23 Toyen, 258n73 Trier, Eduard, 2, 215, 230n7, 248n14 Trismosin, Salomon, 245n36 Tristan, Flora, xvi, 226n21 Turtles, 132, 176 Twelve Keys (Valentine), 245n36 Two Ambiguous Figures (Ernst), 48 – 49 Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale (Ernst), 157 Tzara, Tristan, 32, 57, 62, 66, 106, 107, 235n84 Ubac, Raoul, 201 Ubu enchaîné (Jarry), 158 Unconscious, 63 – 66, 72, 92, 104, 133, 193, 214 Unicorn, 32, 87 University of Bonn, 35 – 37, 139, 215, 231n14 Untitled (Men Shall Never Know It) (Ernst), 44, 54–55, 72, 89, 187 Vail, Laurence, 167 Valentine, Basil, 22, 26, 31– 32, 103, 208, 227n39, 245n36 Van Gogh, Vincent, 37, 186 Varo, Remedios, 216 Vegetation (Ernst), 186 Venice Biennale prize, 207– 208 Der Ventilator, 40 – 41 Venus, 100, 107, 154, 259n82 Venus fly-traps, 155, 199 Verlaine, Paul, 23, 144 Vermeer, Jan, 35 Verne, Jules, 34 View magazine, 2, 7, 8, 9–10, 13 –17, 36, 127, 171, 181, 183, 222 – 223n10, 233n49, 252n75, 255n118 View of Delft (Vermeer), 35 Villanova, Arnald of, 26 Violent Love (Ernst), 147, 149 Viot, Jacques, 130, 134 The Virgin Chastises the Child Jesus before Three Witnesses (Ernst), 238n30, 240 – 241n71


Vision Provoked by the Nocturnal Aspect of the Porte Saint-Denis (Ernst), 193 “Visions de demi-sommeil” (Ernst), 8 – 9, 15 Vitrac, Roger, 63, 64, 65, 237n13 Vitruvius, 100 La Voile d’Isis, 24, 29 Volcano I (Ernst), 258n66 Vox Angelica (Ernst), 202 – 204, 207 VVV, 171 Waite, Arthur Edward, 22, 29, 225n19, 252n73 Waldberg, Patrick, 2, 89, 223n21 Waldman, Diane, 250n55 Walter, Marie-Thérèse, 151 Water. See Elements Weininger, Otto, 34 Weisz, Csiki, 253n91 The Wheel of Light (Ernst), 88 – 89, 147, 190 The Wheel of the Sun (Ernst), 191 When Reason Sleeps, the Sirens Sing (Ernst), 212 White Dove and Black Doves (Ernst), 87 White Dove (Golden Dove) (Ernst), 87 White Queen (Ernst), 173 Whitman, Walt, 144 Wilde, Oscar, 34 Wilhelm, Richard, 32 . . . Will Forge Crowns So Large That They Will Rise Higher (Ernst), 112 Winter Landscape (Ernst), 42, 44, 48, 49– 50, 52, 80, 133, 187, 234n58 Wirth, Oswald, 23, 29, 228n54 Witchcraft, 10, 16, 17, 23, 26, 30, 33, 36 Wolff, Charlotte, 133, 235n84, 236n4 Woman Changing Herself into a Bird (Ernst), 162 Woman, Old Man, and Flower I (Ernst), 79– 81 Woman, Old Man, and Flower II (Ernst), 239n45 Women: in Ernst’s visions, 136; “femme-enfant,” 151, 154, 250n42; floating, 72; forests as analogy for,

index 196; headless, 81, 82, 111, 141, 144, 151, 178, 245n34, 249n22; images of, in Ernst’s works, 66, 72, 81, 82, 111, 136, 137–138, 140 –144, 146 –150, 152 –153, 161, 162, 164 –171, 176 –183, 249n22, 250n46; nudes in art, 79, 108, 112, 138, 147, 151, 153, 164, 171, 197, 201– 202, 203, 204, 209– 210; psychic powers of, 91– 93; as succubi, 92; in surrealist movement, 136 –137, 151, 157–164, 172, 248n9, 250n42. See also Androgyne; specific women Wood engravings, 106 –107, 108, 109 World War I, 36 – 37, 39, 40, 43, 46, 59, 61, 140, 233n52

World War II, 162, 166, 167, 168, 171– 172, 201, 204, 207 Wyss, Dieter, 120 –121 Yarrow, Catherine, 171 Yeats, W. B., 225n19 You May as Well Dream of Opening the Doors to the Sea (Ernst), 83 Young Man Intrigued by the Flight of a NonEuclidian Fly (Ernst), 253n92 Young Rhinelanders, 139, 186 Young Woman in Lunar Form (Ernst), 173 Zodiac. See Astrology Zurich Dada, 44



Max ernst and alchemy by m e warlick