As a refugee from Nazi persecution, Max Ernst brought surrealism to America. European and American modernism joined forces in the artistic melting pot of New York. Werner Spies is the first to examine this momentous artistic symbiosis.
On the run from the German occupying forces in the summer of 1941, Ernst boards a plane that takes him from Paris to New York. His arrival in the USA was a turning point for modern art: one of the founders and most prominent exponents of surrealism had arrived in America. The Amerindian art he saw in the local museums began to inform his own work, while young American painters simultaneously appropriated European surrealist techniques. Surrealism spread like wildfire through America’s artistic milieu, finding ubiquitous resonance in advertisements, shop window displays, comic strips and film.
Ernst’s vast canvas Vox Angelica, created in 1943, marked a turning point in his oeuvre: a summation of his art to date, incorporating his newly discovered Native American influences. Werner Spies, the leading expert on Max Ernst and his work, takes the painting as the springboard for a scintillating analysis of these decisive years in modern art.