An exhibition of Max Ernst’s most important period, covering his work as a Dada artist in Cologne after 1912 and in Paris in the years following the end of World War I, opens at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in the middle of this month (14 March-2 May). Curated by Walter Hopps, founding director of the Menil Collection, and his associate curator, Susan Davidson, “Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism” travels to the Menil Collection, Houston (27 May-29 August) and to Chicago’s Art Institute (15 September-30 November). Since a more widely ranging survey of Ernst’s art, selected by leading authority, Werner Spies, and attempting, not entirely convincingly, to rehabilitate the artist’s later work, took place at the Tate Gallery in 1991 and was shown in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, this exhibition will not be presented in any European museum. The new exhibition is large and comprehensive, but narrow in its focus. It concentrates upon fifteen years of fertile activity until 1927, by which date Ernst had created his major technical innovations and themes such as his forest and horde compositions. In addition to paintings, there are collages, drawings, prints and relief sculptures tracking Ernst’s development in these crucial years. William Camfield, professor of art history at Houston’s Rice University is the author of an accompanying publication (Prestel p/b $37.50).
The exhibition’s wider context is an informal series of other surveys which have investigated the leading masters of Dada and Surrealism, movements which continue to exercise considerable influence upon the direction of contemporary art in New York. That series has included Marcel Duchamp (MoMA 1973), Joseph Cornell (MoMA 1980), de Chirico (MoMA 1982), Kurt Schwitters (MoMA 1985) and Magritte (Metropolitan Museum 1992), with a major survey of the art of Joan Miró following at MoMA in the autumn.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Ernst encore'