Max Ernst at Palazzo Reale

  • When:   October 04, 2022 - February 26, 2023
  • this event is ended

Painting of the 20th centuryArt Exhibitions in MilanoPalazzo RealeMax ErnstSurrealismo

Max Ernst at Palazzo Reale
L’angelo del focolare, 1937. Olio su tela, 114 x 146 cm. Collezione privata, Svizzera. Classicpaintings / Alamy Stock Photo © Max Ernst by SIAE 2022

The first retrospective in Italy dedicated to Max Ernst (1891-1976), German painter, sculptor, poet and art theorist, later naturalized American and French, opens in Milan on 4 October.

The exhibition, promoted and produced by the Comune di Milano-Cultura and by Palazzo Reale with Electa, in collaboration with Madeinart, is curated by Martina Mazzotta and Jürgen Pech.

There are over 400 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages, photographs, jewelery and illustrated books from museums, foundations and private collections, in Italy and abroad. Among these: the GAM in Turin, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Ca' Pesaro Museum in Venice, the Tate Gallery in London, the Center Pompidou in Paris, the Cantini Museum in Marseille, the State Museums and the Arp Foundation in Berlin, the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid.

The long study and investigation work carried out by the curators has made it possible to include among the loans, which boast the presence of about eighty paintings, also works and documents that had not been exhibited to the public for several decades.

The immense vastness of themes and experiments in Ernst's work spreads over seventy years of 20th century history, between Europe and the United States, constantly escaping any definition whatsoever.
Pictor doctus, profound connoisseur and visionary interpreter of the history of art, philosophy, science and alchemy, Max Ernst is presented in this context as a humanist in the neo-Renaissance sense. If André Chastel claimed to find in Ernst a sort of "reincarnation of those Rhenish authors of devilry like Bosch", Marcel Duchamp had traced in him "a complete inventory of the different eras of Surrealism".... read the rest of the article»

On the noble floor of the Royal Palace, visitors can immerse themselves in a captivating itinerary that traces the adventurous creative parable of the artist, marked by the great historical events of the 20th century and dotted with extraordinary loves, as well as illustrious friendships. The itinerary narrates the biographical events of Ernst grouping them into 4 major periods, in turn divided into 9 thematic rooms that disclose interdisciplinary approaches to his art.

An ample, ideal library, that of the artist, made up of illustrated books, study manuals, photographs, objects and documents, winds through the entire itinerary of the exhibition, inviting visitors to engage in games of cross-references and correspondences between sources of inspiration and the works themselves.

Upon entering the exhibition halls, the public is immediately invited to try their hand at a masterpiece that turns a century old this year, Oedipus Rex (1922).
The first two rooms, entitled 1. The Copernican revolution; 2. Within the vision, they accompany the first part of Ernst's biography, Germany: 1891-1921. It narrates the years of childhood and training in Germany, sources of memory and inspiration for the artist's entire life; the Great War, fought in the first person and equated to a period of death; the resurrection, the return to life, the marriage and the birth of their son Jimmy, the revolutionary advent of Dada and the invention of collage, the first exhibition in France and proto-surrealism.

The second part of the biography - France, 1922-1940 - accompanies the next two rooms. In number 3. The house of Eaubonne, he proposes a reconstruction, integrated with original fragments, of the frescoed house in which Ernst lived his ménage a trois with Gala and Paul Éluard.
The central role of love, friendship and eroticism in his choices and in his poetics then becomes the protagonist of room 4. Eros and metamorphosis.
Among the works present in the first 4 rooms: Crucifix (1914), Fiat Modes Pereat Ars (1919), I Cormorani (1920), Les Malheurs des Immortels (1922, in the only watercolored edition), the fragments of the house of Eaubonne (1923 ), The Kiss (1927), Men Will Know Nothing (1927).

The exhibition continues by recounting the years spent by Ernst in Paris and in France, the emergence of Surrealism, his second marriage to Marie-Berte and then his love with Leonora Carrington, the deep friendships, exchanges and collaborations with many protagonists of the avant-gardes, travel and experimentation, the advent of the Second War, his imprisonment as a "degenerate artist" wanted by the Nazis.
The exile in the United States, organized thanks to the support of his son Jimmy and above all of Peggy Guggenheim, whom the artist will marry for a short time, introduces the part of the biography America, 1941-1952.
The entry into the international scene of New York, the great love and then the marriage with Dorothea Tanning, the transfer to Sedona, Arizona, in the house built and decorated by the artists, introduce the following rooms: 5. The four elements (forests/ earth, birds/air, sea/water, hordes/fire), 6. Nature and vision, 7. The pleasure of creating forms (Gestaltungslust) - the pleasure of the eye (Augenlust).
Here emerges in particular the role that nature and the landscape play in the invention of techniques (frottage, grattage, decalcomania and dripping), in the creation of strands of the fantastic and the marvelous that also invest sculpture and goldsmithing, reflecting a constant dialectical tension between word and image, between spirit and matter. The works in these sections include Histoire Naturelle (1925), Monument to the birds (1927), The forest (1927-28), Bird-head (1934-35), A lent ear (1935), The whole city (1936-37), A fabric of lies (1959), The party in Seillans (1964).

The return to Europe, 1953-1976, continues with room number 8, entitled Memory and Wonder, which collects works from various decades and illustrates how the history of culture, the return of the ancient become sources of inspiration and the object of wonderful art by Ernst: an art that maintains an intimate and conscious relationship with the past and memory. Among the works presented: Pietà or The revolution at night (1923), The antipope
(ca.1941), The Angel of the Hearth (1937), Dream and Revolution (1945-'46), Project for a Monument to Leonardo da Vinci (1957), Among the Streets of Athens (1960), Hölderlin, Poems ( 1961), Romanticism (1964), Portrait of an Ancestor (1974).
A grand finale, with an eye to the stars, is represented by room 9, entitled Cosmos and cryptography.
In the years preceding man's landing on the moon, art and science dialogue in Ernst's works, disclosing unprecedented views of the cosmos and involving astronomy as well as anthropology, physics as well as pataphysics. Works, books and cinema introduce the artist to the extraordinary secret writings of the artist, to those encryptions that go beyond codified languages and are aimed at those who are capable of revealing the
mysteries of the cosmos.
Among the exhibited works: The world of the naives (1965), The world of the confused. Absolute refusal to live like a driver (1965), Maximiliana or the illegal exercise of astronomy (1964).

As in a large Wunderkammer, and in analogy with the universe of Max Ernst, the exhibition and the volume that accompanies it challenge visitors to engage in fascinating and intriguing games of perception between astonishment and wonder, where logic and formal harmony go hand in hand to impenetrable enigmas, where works, techniques and constellations of symbols lead beyond painting.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog published by Electa, a guide and a new edition, also by Electa, of two fundamental works by Paola Dècina Lombardi on the Surrealist movement: Surrealism 1919-1969. Rebellion and Imagination and Woman, Freedom, Love. An anthology on surrealism.

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Title: Max Ernst at Palazzo Reale

Opening: October 04, 2022

Ending: February 26, 2023

Organization: Palazzo Reale, Comune di Milano, Electa

Curator: Martina Mazzotta e Jürgen Pech

Place: Milano, Palazzo Reale Milano

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 12 - Milano

Hours: Monday closed. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am-7.30pm. Thursday: 10-22.30. Last admission one hour before the exhibition closes

Reduced hours:
24 December 2022 from 10.00 to 14.30
25 December 2022 from 2.30 to 6.30 pm
31 December 2022 from 10.00 to 14.30
1 January 2023 from 2.30 pm to 7.30 pm
last admission one hour before the exhibition closes


full price open tickets 17 euros: free date tickets, valid up to 15 days before the closure of the exhibition
full 15 euros
reduced 13 euros

Booking and pre-sale fees for groups and individuals 2 euros per person, school groups 1 euro per person

Information and pre-sales
t +39 02 33020021


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