Die geheimen Tageb├╝cher von einer verderbten Existenz

Behind these gates you will hear my thoughts screaming like nerves under the sun and feel my emotion laughing to the empty ether.
Welcome Dear Wanderer, make yourself at home.
The road is long and tortuous and I hope you enjoy yourself.

Fraternally Yours,
Poison Creeper

Monday, 7 September 2009

Andre' Masson


Andre' Masson fought in the Great War because he wanted to experience "the Wagnerian aspects of battle" and know the ecstasy of death; Otto Hahn's biography of Masson explained that "ecstasy" the day a bullet ripped into the young artist's chest during the offensive at Chemin des Dames in April of 1917. Stretcher-bearers were unable to get him to safety and he was left on his back for the night. "The world around him became something wondrous and he experienced his first complete physical release, while in the sky there appeared before him a torso of light."[1]

Every person is unconsciously convinced of his own immortality, but when he faces his destiny, testing ceases and reality comes into its own. Gold must be tried in the fire until the dross is burned out, and similarly, when certain elements are exposed to high temperatures new substances are produced which are more than the sum of their components,[2] likewise the truly religious are essentially otherworldly. Because of that "ecstatic experience" Masson became a stranger on earth, a perverse theologian of a world that had suffered a Fall and experienced an Incarnation which changed all the relations of his past and future.

From that alembic bullet and that torso of light, death became a fateful vision for Masson. The war left him nervous with nightmares; he suffered from insomnia and spent long painful hours dreaming new paintings. He defined the relationship between life and death as between two sides of the same coin, l'endroit and l'envers,[3] two faces of the same picture; in his greatest moments of illumination and metamorphosis he painted what transpired on both sides.

Many young men suffered traumatic war experiences that shaped their lives and changed history. Max Ernst bombarded the trenches in which his eventual close friend, Paul Eluard, was standing guard; Franz Marc and Duchamp-Villon were among those killed, Guillaume Apollinaire died on Armistice Day " and we were able to believe that Paris was bedecked in his honor."[4] Max Beckmann, Oskar Kokoschka, Fernand L?ger, Georges Braque, Otto Dix, George Grosz and many others, all belonged to a generation for whom this slaughter was an overwhelming trial in their lives, shattering their confidence in the moral and rational assumptions of Western culture and throwing into question the entire nature of human existence. [5]

There were others who fed on the horrors of war. A would-be artist, Adolf Hitler (about forty of his wartime sketches survive), an almost suicidally heroic dispatch runner, received nearly every medal available, two minor wounds, was gassed, and blinded.[6] It was while in the hospital, suffering mutism and hysterical blindness that he had the vision that he had a great mission to perform, that he was chosen by Providence to liberate Germany from its bondage and make it great. This was the most outstanding characteristic of Hitler's personality, and it is this that guided him with the "precision of a sleepwalker."[7] More significantly, he enjoyed his war experience and was excited by the new life opening up for him after the bleak failure of his early years. By his own account the "ecstatic feeling" in the trenches persuaded and "toughened" him for the struggle ahead. His front line crisis, which contained all the psychological conditions of a conversion, fixed in Hitler's psyche the passion and conviction that changed him into the furious Creator of Warriors. No one evoked so much rejoicing, hysteria, and expectation of salvation during the 1930s as Hitler, when with displays of pseudo-religious pageantry and military power, he turned a demoralized nation into an unqualified instrument of defiance and conquest. The defeated German people accepted him as the Messiah for whom they had been waiting. Germany, ruled by a failed painter, went berserk.

During the 1920s Masson's life was far from serene. He had already developed a masterly cubist style (Picasso praised him highly); but emerging from the war, shattered and subject to fits of rage, he was frequently in a violent, emotional state. There followed a succession of hospitals and finally confinement in a mental ward. The artist's new gore-scarred art was a meditation on death, concentrating on Masson's realities: metamorphosis, erotic violence, death and chaos. He opened himself to the provocation of Surrealist ideology, and his work became a medium of poetic exploration, a realm where dark myths and mutations of the psyche held sway over the forms invented for their depiction.

As he would later affirm, "I am more a sympathizer with Surrealism than a Surrealist or a non-Surrealist. The movement is essentially a literary movement." What Gertrude Stein called "my 'wandering line' is probably the key characteristic of my work. But it wasn't the line that was wandering, it was me."[8] Seeking deeper inspiration, the erudite Masson turned to the somber, chthonic Greek myths. Sapphire points out the appearance, in the 1920s, of cemeteries, men trapped in underground chambers, cruel, erotic and violent combats, butchering and devouring of animals, and finally the massacre of women, which continued through the 1930s and into the early 1940s. [9]

A crisis in the Surrealist circle erupted in1929, precipitated by the question of the movement's relationship to the Communist Party; Masson left and eventually broke with the movement entirely.[10] He decided Surrealism was a closed system; and any system, as Nietzsche points out, lacks integrity. In France, during the 1930s, the Surrealists cultivated the Cult of the Erotic Female as revelation of truth and transcendence, and the only experience by which man could find final salvation. Masson twisted the arrow in the heart of this cult when he showed the world in all its impossibilities and spiritual nihilism. But Masson, that terrified and terrifying Cassandra, explored the imagery of his unconscious, consciously projected it as evocative subject matter and creatively opened the way to emotional and philosophic expression. His work was a dreadfully accurate depiction of the psychotic aspects of European life. Carolyn Lanchner, writing about Masson's 1938 drawing, Dream of a Future Desert (R?ve d'un future desert), contended that "this apocalyptic vision of the end of the world embodies the torment of the artist who saw in the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Hitler the sure portent of holocaust."[11]

[more at http://users.erols.com/ries/article2002AM.htm]

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