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Surreal Lovers: Eight Women Integral to the Life of Max Ernst

Surreal Lovers recounts the lives of the artists and writers – Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini, Meret Oppenheim and Luise Straus; the art collector Peggy Guggenheim; Marie-Berthe Aurenche and Gala, the muse of Salvador Dali – during the most exhilarating and treacherous of times, when all loved and were loved by the strikingly seductive and enigmatic painter Max Ernst. In describing the work and achievements of these women, and of Max Ernst, Surreal Lovers emphasizes the human element in their entwined lives – what is usually omitted from official art histories. Interweaving their interactions with each other and their circle, which included Lee Miller, Nusch Eluard, Man Ray, Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, Marcel Duchamp and Chaim Soutine, Surreal Lovers spans the volatile days of Dada in the 1920s and the heyday of Surrealism, when they oscillated between Cologne, London and Paris, to its demise in New York in the 1940s. Their saga contains episodes of searing passion, madness and betrayal when they made great art and lost, found and abandoned one another in the process.

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Anonymous says:

What does it cost to dance at Max Ernst’s weddings? This is an engaging and thoroughly readable account of some of the most colorful lives of the mid-Twentieth Century.Hooks has assembled a jewelled mosaic full of light and detail. At Ernst’s first wedding, his bride wore ordinary shoes covered with red velvet to create the impression of gaity and status. The effect was marvelous, but there was blood inside the shoes before long: the tiny nails used to fix the red velvet were too long, and cut into her feet as she danced…

Anonymous says:

Essential for any Ernst and Surrealism fan Essential reading. I have read many books on Ernst and the DaDa/Surrealists of the early 20th century. One failing all these books have in common is they get so focused on the artwork, that they leave out details of Ernst as a human, with all the failings that come with it. Hooks works through the stories of the women in his life and with such detail, I can’t help but wonder if some liberties are taken for the sake of the story. Her choice of words is grating at times…

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