Saturday, 19 May 2012

Eduard Wiiralt

I came across the Estonian artist and illustrator Eduard Wiiralt (1898-1954) in S.A. Mansbach's Modern Art In Eastern Europe, which has this to say about him:

Wiiralt's artistic career was conducted principally through the graphic arts, whose various media effectively employed to reveal disturbingly mystical and erotic incidents that he had imagined while in Paris. In his print Cabaret, the artist detailed well-attired men and diaphanously dressed women dancing in a club that might have been owned by a latter-day Hieronymous Bosch. Similarly disconcerting in its juxtaposition of the overcarefully observed and the extraordinarily imagined is the aptly titled Hell, where in the crowded jostle of heads we find contorted physiognomies and mechanical beings that might have been conjured by an obsessed modern Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Clearly, the optimism that informed the group of Estonian Artists in the 1920s had diinished significantly by the early 1930s, when Wiiralt presented his alternative to the constructed world of [Arnold] Akberg and the latter's philosophy of progress.

There's an interesting article on Wiiralt at the Baltic Times, as well as two posts on 50 Watts (which I realised having spent quite a bit of time gathering these images! Oh well). Some of Wiiralt's work isn't a million miles from the German Neue Sachlichkeit art of George Grosz or Otto Dix, while the aforementioned article describes him as "Estonia's original surrealist." There would appear to be an inexhaustible supply of bizarre, uncategorizable art from Eastern Europe.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Loplop présente, 1931

  Loplop présente... les vipères, 1931

 Loplop aux papillons, c.1932

Max humaine et papillons pétrefiés, 1931

Le facteur Cheval, 1932

Du verre, 1932

 Loplop présente, 1931

Matin et soir, 1930

Anthropomorphic figure, 1930

Two anthropomorphic figures, 1930

Figure humaine, c.1930

Loplop présente Loplop, 1930

Figure humaine, 1931

Loplop présente une jeune fille, 1930

... Max Ernst always defended himself against interpretations of his work. In so doing he distanced himself from pictures that present - as Dalí in his concurrent writings said they should - a completely closed system of superimposed images each of which, however, can be read for itself. Max Ernst's own pictures refuse to yield to compulsive interpretation, paranoiac-critical or otherwise. Here we might again cite that statement in the Leonardo essay - "that in many places it becomes hard to see where Anne stops and Mary begins" - this time as a self-commentary on the part of Max Ernst. What it expresses here is the relation between encoding and decoding, ambiguity and clarity.

With this, Max Ernst's critical reading of Freud takes on a fabulous significance. We have seen that Max Ernst was fascinated by Freud's acumen, his capacity for mental association, his interpretive drive. These corresponded to a deep instinct of his own. I quoted at the beginning from the Biographical Notes what he had remarked under the year 1906 - that a kind of mania to explain had possessed him to see the death of his favourite bird, Hornebom, in causal relation to the birth of his sister Loni. The shock had gone deep, he said, adding:
Yet in the boy's mind there remains a voluntary if irrational confounding of the images of of human beings with birds and other creatures; and this is reflected in the emblems of his art.
Werner Spies, Loplop: The Artist's Other Self

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Depository

The Depository (1994) was Andrzej Klimowski's first graphic novel, and it's a wordless, ambiguous tale of flying people with books for wings and the sinister organization that pursues them. These stills are from an animated adaptation from 2003 by Andrew Kavanagh, which can be found on YouTube. It's been said before but Klimowski's stark black and white imagery was much improved in linocuts for later books like The Secret and Horace Dorlan, and Kavanagh's film is actually closer to those works in style than the loose brush and ink drawings of the original.