Metamorphosis Victorianus


left: L’antre du magicien (1948); right: La Distribution des soleils (1945).

I’m rather late with this one, Metamorphosis Victorianus—Modern Collage, Victorian Engravings & Nostalgia is an exhibition running at the Ubu Gallery, New York until the end of the month. Lots of the names one would expect to see in a collection of engraving collagists although no Wilfried Sätty. The examples shown here are by Max Bucaille.

Max Ernst (1891–1976), with such work as his shocking and seminal illustrated collage-novel, La Femme 100 têtes (1929), influenced an entire wave of artists who looked towards the Surrealist and his use of 19th Century engravings as a point of departure within their own work in this medium. The first generation of artists were Ernst’s contemporaries, who worked primarily in the 1930s with significant connection to the Surrealists: Joseph Cornell (1903–1972), Jind?ich Štyrský (1899–1942), Otto Hofmann (1907–1994), Franz Roh (1890–1965), Max Bucaille (1906–1992), and Gerome Kamrowski (1914–2004). Those a generation later, including Ray Johnson (1927–1995), Bruce Conner (1933–2008), and Jess (1923–2004), each separately rediscovered Ernst, specifically choosing to use this type of collage as a jumping off point towards other conceptual ends.


Capture (1946).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Max (The Birdman) Ernst
The Robing of The Birds
Gandharva by Beaver & Krause
The art of Stephen Aldrich

4 thoughts on “Metamorphosis Victorianus”

  1. Thanks for the heads up!

    Just went and saw this show yesterday, It was wild to see those Ernst collages in reality, see the construction of them..and also to be introduced to Conner, Bucaille and specifically Styrsky; that man made some nice pictures

  2. Hi Josh, glad to be of service. I got to see some of Ernst’s collages a couple of years ago at the Hayward in London and was surprised at how small they were. After seeing them in books for years it had never occurred to me that they’d all be limited by the size of the original book or magazine printing. I expect it’s the same with many of Ernst’s followers. Later collagists such as Sätty had recourse to printing machines which they could use to enlarge and duplicate the pictures they found.

  3. Hi John, I wish I had gotten to see this show. Some of Max Bucaille’s work is quite interesting. I first saw a few examples in the book “Het Fantastisch Realisme” by Jean-Claude Guilbert, published by Forumboekerij, ‘S-Gravenage, Holland, in 1970. Years ago I was in Paris and tried to look him up. His family told me he was on his death bed. You mention Ernst’s small collages. I saw a number of these years ago in Paris. The ones I saw seemed mainly composed of material from La Nature, and I had the feeling that he was cranking them out to make money. They weren’t as interesting as some of the ones seen in his books.

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