MR. KNIFE, MISS FORK

First edition. A rare inscribed presentation copy from Max Ernst to James Stern. Publisher's black buckram, decorated in gilt to a design by Max Ernst. Illustrated with 19 original photograms by Max Ernst, each with a glassine guard, with the title printed in red. Black endpapers. Housed in a bespoke quarter morocco solander case. A very good copy, the binding square and firm with rubbing and fraying at the spine tips and corners. The contents are entirely complete, clean throughout and without inscriptions or stamps. This work is a fragment from Crevel's novel Babylone. The 19 photograms of Ernst's frottages were completed with the collaboration of Man Ray in his studio after days of trials, with Ernst's rubbings on transparent paper serving as the negative. Ernst had developed his frottage technique as a visual counterpart to the Surrealist ideal of "automatic writing," and the dark visions he produces here perfectly capture the darkness of Crevel's own vision, here translated by Kay Boyle. A fine and strikingly original production.

Inscribed by the artist in black ink on the front blank "To Jimmy and Tania / Stern / amitiť / Xmas 1941 / Max Ernst". One of 200 copies printed on 'finest Bristol Paper'; there was also an edition of 50 on Hollande paper signed by both the author and the artist; and 5 special copies, each containing 4 of the original artworks. Whilst the signed edition appears sporadically in commerce, presentation copies by Ernst are genuinely rare (rarebookhub traces not a single example in the last 50 years, although a colleague was able to locate a defective example, lacking all but two of the nineteen photograms, offered in 1985). Anglo-Irish writer James Stern's friendship with Max Ernst began in Paris during the 1930s, but at the time of this inscription they were both living in New York. Ernst had arrived in the city with his patron, and soon to be wife, Peggy Guggenheim, after she had helped him to escape from Nazi-occupied France. In New York, they formed part of a growing community of exiled European artists and writers, including friends such as Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall. Stern had also moved to the city in 1939, becoming a fixture of such artistic and literary circles; as Malcolm Cowley once remarked to him, "My God, you've known everybody, his wife, his boyfriend, and his natural issue!" This position was reflected through Stern's extensive correspondence with a multitude of leading cultural figures of the period (now largely held in the James Stern Archive at the British Library). Notably, Arthur Miller dedicated 'A View from the Bridge' to Stern, and, when Peggy Guggenheim came to write her memoir, 'Out of this Century: Confessions of an Art Addict' (in which she painted a harsh portrait of Ernst, her then ex-husband), Stern was one of the trusted friends to whom she turned for advice. (Minkoff, George: A Bibliography of The Black Sun Press A41; Roth, Andrew: The Book of 101 Books. Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century, 2001, p.66).

Stock code: 17717

£11,500

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Illustrator:

ERNST, Max

Translated by::

BOYLE, Kay

Published:

Paris: The Black Sun Press.
1931

Category

Modern First Editions
Signed / Inscribed
Literature
Photography
Art Books
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