Paris, Les Éditions Cercle des Arts, (1953).
Small 8vo, publisher’s paper boards, tipped-in colour vignette on first side. (80) pp. With life-size tipped-in colour reproductions of 31 microbes. Complete. The poem and microbes are divided under seven headings: Colline (Hill), Madeleine, Lumière (Light), Coloradeau, Plantes-Soeurs (Plant-Sisters), Eternité (Eternity), and Dix Milles Peaux-Rouges (10,000 Red Indians).
First Edition, one of 1000 numbered copies on Marais une fleur paper of a total issue of 1100 copies.
Autograph signature of the artist on the half-title.
In 1942, Ernst met the young artist Dorothea Tanning, who would become his wife. They spent the summer of 1943 in Arizona and in 1946, tired of New York and the continuing society drama generated by his divorce from Peggy Guggenheim, they moved permanently to Oak Creek Canyon, near Sedona, and began to build a house there. For both Ernst and Tanning, their years in Arizona were utopic, despite their lack of funds and the hard work that was necessary to make their new home habitable. Unlike New York, Arizona offered solitude and a fresh start amidst what Ernst called “the delicious deserts of Arizona”. Ernst began to create the microbes soon into his first year living in the Southwest. Unlike his early paintings, these were often no larger than postage stamps and were called ‘microbes’ because, said Ernst, ‘they are small and dangerous for both the brain of the painter and the viewer’.
Ernst finished his last microbes around 1950, only returning to them in 1953, with “Sept microbes vus à travers un tempérament”. At this point he was again living in France, despite having become an American citizen in 1948; the book served as a farewell to his time in the United States and revisited the sense of timelessness and connection to the land that he had felt there. Ernst’s series of microbes embodied this American experience and connected his surrealist ideas about the unconscious to the country he lived in for a decade. As he emphasized with “Sept microbes vus à travers un tempérament”, the microbes, whether they denote apocalypse, a calm afternoon, fire, water, the heavens, or are so abstract as to only evoke primordial matter, are his interpretation of the visual experience of the landscape. The microbes also reflect his experience of the American art world and the development of Abstract Expressionism (with monumental works), which he both affected and responded to while remaining dedicated to the Surrealist concepts that engaged him throughout his career (Seeing Through an (American) Temperament: Max Ernst’s Microbes, 1946-1953, Danielle M. Johnson, Vero Beach Museum of Art).
Spine darkened, else a very good copy.
Price: 1.200,00 euros
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