Max Ernst’s favourites

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The cover for the Max Ernst number of View magazine (April, 1942) that appears in Charles Henri Ford’s View: Parade of the Avant-Garde was one I didn’t recall seeing before. This was a surprise when I’d spent some time searching for back issues of the magazine. The conjunction of Ernst with Buer, one of the perennially popular demons drawn by Louis Le Breton for De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, doubles the issue’s cult value in my eyes. I don’t know whether the demon was Ernst’s choice but I’d guess so when many of the De Plancy illustrations resemble the hybrid creatures rampaging through Ernst’s collages. Missing from the Ford book is the spread below which uses more De Plancy demons to decorate lists of the artist’s favourite poets and painters. I’d have preferred a selection of favourite novelists but Ford was a poet himself (he also co-wrote an early gay novel with Parker Tyler, The Young and Evil), and the list is still worth seeing.

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Poets: Charles Baudelaire, Friedrich Hölderlin, Alfred Jarry, Edgar Allan Poe, George Crabbe, Guillaume Apollinaire, Walt Whitman, Comte de Lautréamont, Robert Browning, Arthur Rimbaud, William Blake, Achim von Arnim, Victor Hugo, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lewis Carroll, Novalis, Heinrich Heine, Solomon (presumably the author of the Song of Solomon).

Painters: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Giovanni Bellini, Hieronymus Bosch, Matthias Grünewald, Albrecht Altdorfer, Georges Seurat, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Baldung, Vittore Carpaccio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Cosimo Tura, Carlo Crivelli, Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Rousseau, Francesco del Cossa, Piero di Cosimo, NM Deutsch (Niklaus Manuel), Vincent van Gogh.

I’ve filled out the names since some of the typography isn’t easy to read. Some of the choices are also uncommon, while one of them—NM Deutsch—is not only a difficult name to search for but the attribution has changed in recent years. The list of poets contains few surprises but it’s good to see that Poe made an impression on Ernst; the choice of painters is less predictable. Bruegel, Bosch and Rousseau are to be expected, and the same goes for the German artists—Grünewald, Baldung—whose work is frequently grotesque or erotic. But I wouldn’t have expected so many names from the Italian Renaissance, and Seurat is a genuine surprise. As for Ernst’s only living contemporary, Giorgio de Chirico, this isn’t a surprise at all but it reinforces De Chirico’s importance. If you removed Picasso from art history De Chirico might be the most influential painter of the 20th century; his Metaphysical works had a huge impact on the Dada generation, writers as well as artists, and also on René Magritte who was never a Dadaist but who lost interest in Futurism when he saw a reproduction of The Song of Love (1914). Picasso’s influence remains rooted in the art world while De Chirico’s disquieting dreams extend their shadows into film and literature, so it’s all the more surprising that this phase of his work was so short lived. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Viewing View
De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal
Max Ernst album covers
Maximiliana oder die widerrechtliche Ausübung der Astronomie
Max and Dorothea
Dreams That Money Can Buy
La femme 100 têtes by Eric Duvivier

The original Cabaret Voltaire

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Cabaret Voltaire #1 (1916). Cover by Hans Arp.

Richard H. Kirk’s announcement that he’ll be performing at the Berlin Atonal festival as Cabaret Voltaire caused some raising of eyebrows recently, although if Stephen Mallinder isn’t involved I won’t be getting too excited myself. The last few releases under the Cabaret Voltaire name were credited to Kirk/Mallinder but from Plasticity (1992) on they don’t sound very different to Kirk’s solo releases from the same period. That’s not to say the music suffers but you have to wonder why the group name is being perpetuated if there’s nothing unique attached to it.

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Dune, parole in libertà by Filippo Marinetti.

The group, old or new, will be the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the name Cabaret Voltaire, something that might have surprised Hugo Ball who founded the original Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich almost a century ago. Cabaret Voltaire (the group) named themselves after Ball’s project, their intentions in the mid-1970s being similarly Dadaist. Early Cabs performances were more audience provocations than anything to do with entertainment; the music came later, and only after several years of very uncommercial tape experimentation, some of which can be heard on Methodology ’74–’78: Attic Tapes (2003). Thanks to Switzerland staying out of the war the original Cabaret didn’t get wrecked by bombs or destroyed by the Nazis, and is still active today. Ball also published a Cabaret Voltaire journal, two pages of which can be seen here. If this doesn’t look very dramatic to our eyes it needs to be remembered that everyone who first saw it would have been born in the 19th century so the contents would have seemed a lot more radical. A slim publication but with a formidable list of contributors: Guillaume Apollinaire, Hans Arp, Blaise Cendrars, Wassily Kandinsky, Filippo Marinetti, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Tristan Tzara and others.

Also at Ubuweb (where else?) there are several recordings of Hugo Ball’s Dada poetry including a recital of Karawane by (of all people) Marie Osmond. Who knew there was a connection between the Osmonds and Cabaret Voltaire?

Previously on { feuilleton }
Cabaret Voltaire on La Edad de Oro, 1983
Doublevision Presents Cabaret Voltaire
Just the ticket: Cabaret Voltaire
TV Wipeout
The Crackdown by Cabaret Voltaire

Antony Little’s echoes of Aubrey

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The Dancer (1967) by Antony Little.

My thanks to Sweet Jane this time for alerting me to her post about a series of Beardsley-inspired illustrations from 1967 by Biba designer Antony Little. The Wandering Jew and Other Stories was the first translation in English of Apollinaire’s 1910 collection L’Hérèsiarque et Cie. I’ve known about this book for a while but few of the illustrations have been on view anywhere until this post. There are eight in all, each of them very adeptly capturing different phases of Beardsley’s drawing style, from the spare black-and-whites to the more detailed renderings seen in his later work. The drawing below is another in the series from a post of Callum’s which also includes a favourite of mine by Beresford Egan.

Little’s designs, and the prominence of the Biba stores, did much to make Art Nouveau in general, and Beardsley in particular, a crucial component of London fashion in the late 1960s. For more on that subject see this Sweet Jane post featuring yet more Beardsley borrowings and monochrome design, plus Osborne & Little’s fantastic Chinese Dragon wallpaper which made a memorable appearance last year in Only God Forgives.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Aubrey in LIFE
Beardsley reviewed
Aubrey Beardsley in The Studio
Ads for The Yellow Book
Beardsley and His Work
Further echoes of Aubrey
A Wilde Night
Echoes of Aubrey
After Beardsley by Chris James
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
Beardsley’s Rape of the Lock
The Savoy magazine
Beardsley at the V&A
Merely fanciful or grotesque
Aubrey Beardsley’s musical afterlife
Aubrey by John Selwyn Gilbert
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé