Pearls from artists* # 420September 16, 2020
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
During the early period of Einstein’s great fame, which began in 1919, Breton wrote an essay for the first one-man show in Paris of Max Ernst. There, for the first time, he expressed what would become the central mechanism of Surrealism’s theory of poetry: the experience of ‘disorientation,’ engendered by what Breton called ‘the marvelous ability to reach out, without leaving the field of our experience, to two distinct realities and bring them together to create a spark.’ Perhaps in search of authorization, Breton gave this definition in the context of the ‘separate systems of reference’ posited by Einstein’s Relativity. This, Breton argued, helped make sense of weird juxtapositions to be found in Ernst’s collages of the time, shown in Paris in the same year that the German to French translations of both Einstein’s Relativity: The Special Theory and the General Theory and [Sir Arthur] Eddington’s, Space, Time, and Gravitation were published. This in turn gave Breton and his friends a glimpse of the ‘real’ world ushered in by the new physics.
“Sibylline Strangeness: Surrealism and Modern Physics,” by Gavin Parkinson in Science in Surrealism, published by Gallery Wendy Norris
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