Paul ELUARD & Max ERNST & GALA
Ensemble de reliques ayant appartenu à Paul Eluard, Max Ernst et Gala
s.d. (ca 1914), trois reliques.
Important and moving set of three relics belonging to three prominent 20th-century avant-garde figures: Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, and Gala. Found by Cecile Eluard in the apartment of her mother Gala after her death.- Iron cross of Max Ernst- “Gri-gri” [trinket] of Paul Eluard in 1914: a blue hand-sewn pouch with a small photographic portrait of him in a helmet and one of his mother- Gala's Orthodox medal with Saint Barbara, Saints Anthony and Theodosius on the back, mounted on a chain
Cologne, November 1921, almost three years after the armistice. Eluard and Gala, travel to Germany to meet Max Ernst in his studio, after having missed his great debut in France. "A single week was enough for Paul Eluard to consider Max Ernst as his brother." (D. Bona, Gala la muse redoutable
). Gala is seen wearing Max Ernst's iron cross on two pictures immortalizing this crucial visit. The German painter and the French poet had both lived hell on the front:“In February 1917, the surrealist painter Max Ernst and I were at the front, barely a kilometer apart. The German artilleryman Max Ernst was bombing the trenches where, as a French infantryman, I was standing guard. Three years later, we were best friends in the world and we have been fighting together ever since for the same cause: the total emancipation of man.”(Paul Eluard,
Donner à voir)
This common trauma certainly brought the two artists together, creating between them a true brotherhood and artistic bond, beyond the abominations and absurdity of war.
Our set also contains a touching war relic, a tiny apotropaic scapular containing two miniature portraits: one of Paul Eluard, wearing a helmet, the other with a profile of his mother, Jeanne-Marie Grindel. This common kind of trinket was designed to ward off evil for the soldiers who wore them close to their hearts. Photographs of loved ones, gold coins or religious medals were a precious link between the battlefield and civil life. The religious medal in our collection belongs to Gala, who arrived in Switzerland in 1913. She entered the Clavadel sanatorium as Helena Diakonova and met the young Eugène Grindel, whom she married in 1917. She never separated from her talisman, an orthodox medallion with Saint Barbara on one side and Saints Anthony and Theodosius on the other."Max is [...] the best of friends. More natural, funnier, more seductive than most of his friends in Paris, handsome and delightful to be around, he is for Paul as well as for Gala, in that first week when they meet, charm itself. And what's more, Paul never stops telling Gala that Ernst is great. A very, very great artist, how can you not love him?” (D. Bona,
When Eluard returned to Paris, he was still in very high spirits. He worked with Ernst by mail on two poem collections: Répétitions
and Les Malheurs des immortels
. To celebrate this shared artistic success, Eluard and Ernst spent the summer together in Tarrenz, Tyrol with their wives and friends - including Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber. Ernst soon left the apartment he had rented with his wife to join Paul and Gala in their house by the lake:“The Tzaras, the Arps, and Matthew Josephson witness an open romance: it is clear to everyone that Max and Gala are perfectly in love. They hold hands and take each other by the shoulders, they kiss, and prefer their solitude to group walks along secret mountain paths. [...] Gala for her part does not let Paul ignore anything either, and the poet cannot fail to see the impulse that carries his wife and his friend towards each other. Nonetheless he does nothing to oppose their affair. He is discreet and so complacent that he gives the impression of approving it. All the guests in Tarrenz notice it: Paul Eluard never tried to hold Gala back from an affair that he was the first to observe, even if he had to suffer for it. "You don't know what it's like to be married to a Russian woman!" he tells them, confiding [...] this admission of a much deeper and more complex heartbreak than that of a deceived and unhappy husband: "I love Max Ernst much more than Gala." [One thing is certain in the eyes of the guests in Tarrenz : Gala is not an issue between the two men. Ernst and Eluard, who get along wonderfully, are not rivals. She is the very pledge of their friendship, she is their mutual exchange, she is their common woman. They love each other through her." (D. Bona,
At the end of the summer Eluard gave his own passport to Ernst, then banned from entering French territory. In early September, the painter illegally crossed the border to join the Eluards in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt.“Things are not all rosy in the ‘ménage à trois' anymore. Paul Eluard has become worried and no longer enjoys the ambiguities of sharing as much as he did in the early days. He still loves Max Ernst very much, he still loves Gala, but he has trouble finding his place between them. Are Max and Gala too much in love? He often feels cast out under his own roof, excluded by the love uniting his wife to his best friend. More and more often, he stays in Paris with the night owls of the gang, Aragon takes him to champagne clubs, in search of pretty girls and the oblivion of everything. He smokes, he drinks, but the party is sad. The dadas know it: Eluard is unhappy. (D. Bona, Ibid)
The Eluards left Saint-Brice for Eaubonne in early 1924. Ernst followed shortly after. In this "doll house" as Paul liked to call it, Max covered the walls of his studio with huge and magnificent frescos. On March 24, 1924, Eluard left the family home without warning. André Breton's wife Simone wrote in a letter to her cousin: “Eluard has been missing since Monday, taking 17,000 francs, and threatening his father via pneumatic message to kill the first person he would send to find him. The desire to leave grew more and more each day [...] He left. André says that he will never be seen again. Gala remains with 400 francs, the little one, and in an impossible situation because of Max Ernst”. No one knows where Eluard has run away, but he soon writes to Gala from Tahiti: “I'm bored. [...] But you will be consoled by the way I will love you. [...] You are the only precious one. I love only you, I have never loved anyone but you. I cannot love anyone else”. (May 12, 1924) This very Rimbaldian escape makes Gala regain her composure. She organized the sale of Eluard's works of art to get the funds needed to reach him: paintings by Juan Gris, Derain, Braque and Picabia, and three oil canvases by Ernst, who also wanted to join the fugitive. The trio reunited in Saigon a few weeks later. Far from being an exotic trip, this Indochinese escapade will put an end to the ménage à trois
: Paul and Gala returned to Paris, Max stayed a while longer and left Eaubonne on his return to France.
In 1925 their illustrated poem collection Au défaut du silence
was issued anonymously. This final creation emerged from their complex love story, with poems by Eluard and astonishing drawings by Ernst, is a vibrant tribute to their muse: "Gala appears powerful and terrifying, with her indecipherable mystery, opaque even to her lovers. […] Eluard's verses, both loving and plaintive, too lucid, echo Max Ernst's distraught drawings, a round of sharp, mean, unsympathetic faces, which tell his vision of Gala throughout these few pages, without any sympathy nor softness. It is his goodbye. Perhaps his farewell. At the same time as a last nod to Eluard, it is his letter of rupture to the fascinating and dark Gala, to her universe of Dostoyevskian dramas, to her dreams of impossible happiness." (D. Bona, op. cit.)
Provenance : Collection Paul Eluard - Collection Gala Eluard Dali - Collection Cécile Eluard - Collection Roger Dérieux
6 000 €
Réf : 82838