LOTHAR BAUMGARTEN in 'Max Ernst and Nature as an Invention'

Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany
13 Oct 2022 - 22 Jan 2023

The exhibition Max Ernst and Nature as an Invention examines Max Ernst’s oeuvre as a concept of an alternative history of nature in the context of the art of his time and the art created thereafter until today. In his Histoire naturelle (1926), Max Ernst defined his own model for this, which deals with the origin of the world, of flora and fauna, the human being and the cosmos. Nature is regarded as a provoking and inspiring space of the possible, which accords with Ernst’s idea that art seeks no definition and no limits, that an artist must not achieve self-knowledge. By means of techniques such as collage, frottage, grattage, and décalcomanie, Max Ernst invented a surreal universe, which is both seductive and unsettling; a parallel pictorial world, which in its visual precision possesses the same plausibility and persuasive power as “nature.” The selection of paintings, drawings, prints, and illustrated books by Max Ernst is complemented by works by 25 other artists who also deal with nature as the both familiar and unfamiliar “other.” These works proof how art is the one medium which is able to give back surprise, irritation, and mystery to nature, which has become a disenchanted object of research and consumption. The exhibition draws on the extensive collection of the Kunstmuseum Bonn (the Hans Bolliger Collection and the Wilfried and Gisela Fitting Collection) and additionally includes further important works from public and private collections.