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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Maximiliana oder die widerrechtliche Ausübung der Astronomie

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The title of this 10-minute film translates as Maximiliana or the Illegal Practice of Astronomy which is also the name of an art book created by Max Ernst in 1964. The film was a collaboration between Ernst and filmmaker Peter Schamoni, the subject being German astronomer and lithographer Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel (1821–1889). Tempel’s astronomy was “illegal” because he was regarded as an amateur by other astronomers which meant he was denied permission to name his discoveries. Maximiliana was the name Tempel and physicist Carl August von Steinheil decided on for an asteroid that Tempel discovered in 1861. This was deemed unacceptable so the asteriod was given the name Cybele instead (now 65 Cybele).

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Some of this is related in Schamoni’s film but you’ll need an understanding of German to appreciate the detail. The film is worth a look for other reasons, notably some shots of Ernst filling sheets of paper with the curious hieroglyphs that cover the surfaces of some of his later paintings. These hieroglyphs also feature in the Tempel book, and one of them appears in the film as an animated figure. Peter Schamoni made a number of art films including an excellent feature-length documentary about Max Ernst in 1991. That’s also on YouTube but untranslated so you’ll need some good German (and French) to appreciate it.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Max and Dorothea
Dreams That Money Can Buy
La femme 100 têtes by Eric Duvivier

 


 

Posted in {art}, {books}, {film}, {science}, {surrealism}.

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4 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Michelangelo

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    For what it’s worth: “Von Steinheil elected to name it “Maximiliana” after the reigning monarch Maximilian II of Bavaria. At the time, asteroids were conventionally given classical names, and a number of astronomers protested this contemporary appellation. The name Cybele was chosen instead, referring to the Phrygian goddess of the earth.”

    The book is excellent, with a lot of barely legible typography.

  2. #2 posted by John

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    Yes, I noticed that info on Wikipedia. When writing these posts I try not to include too much peripheral detail if it can be found elsewhere.

  3. #3 posted by herr doktor bimler

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    Do you own “Max Ernst: Beyond Surrealism” from 1986 (the catalog from an exhibition of his books and prints)? One of the chapters documents “Maximiliana”, with reproductions of most of the folios.

    notably some shots of Ernst filling sheets of paper with the curious hieroglyphs that cover the surfaces of some of his later paintings. These hieroglyphs also feature in the Tempel book, and one of them appears in the film as an animated figure.

    I wonder how much those hieroglyphs contributed to Wegmüller’s cover artwork for the Ash Ra Tempel / Timothy Leary album “Seven Up”.

    I will totally watch this video.

  4. #4 posted by John

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    Wegmüller’s squiggles seem more doodley than Ernst who resists making them too representational.

    I don’t have that catalogue but I have a couple of the pages from Ernst’s book in collections of his work.

 


 

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