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New Book by MICA Faculty Bowdoin Davis Jr.

Limited edition book is available for purchase through MICA's Store and publisher, Midmarch Arts Press. This book is not available online through Amazon.com.

Posted 05.05.08 by MICA Media Relations


Limited edition book is available for purchase through MICA's Store and publisher, Midmarch Arts Press. This book is not available online through Amazon.com.

BALTIMORE - Although MICA Faculty Bowdoin Davis's intention was to embark on a scholarly examination of random lines of text attached to several works by Max Ernst, he soon became enmeshed in connecting the formerly-unnoticed clues to solve the mystery of the break-up of Ernst's marriage to Louise Straus-Ernst and creating a gripping story-far from the reader's anticipated scholarly read.

The title of the book recalls that of a Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman, Scenes from a Marriage. The film is a gripping study of the psychological interactions between the partners to a marriage. Davis's scholarly examination and interpretation is based on Ernst's statements found as titles and lines of text belonging to several artworks created during a period when Max's marriage to Louise Straus-Ernst was coming apart. When scrutinized, the text reveals his underlying dissatisfaction, and taken together with Louise's comments in her Memoir (The First Wife's Tale, 2004), confirms a mutual awareness that the marriage was disintegrating.

The complexity of Ernst's artworks distracts the viewer from the incisiveness of the phrases written below them, leading him/her to disregard the discord between image and phrase and to quickly dismiss the writing as just another Dada diversion.

Ernst can thus verbalize his clandestine feelings without full disclosure to the viewer, only indirectly referencing the growing gulf between the partners to this marriage, and thereby correcting the accepted story of his sudden abandonment of Louise. A myth that cast Ernst in the role of the bad guy-uncaring husband and father- as he fled Louise and their young child to fall into the arms of Gala Éluard (later to become Gala Dali).

Max Ernst's Lines From a Marriage by Bowdoin Davis is available through the MICA Store by contacting 410.225.2276 or store@mica.edu. It is also availble through Midmarch Arts Press, 300 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10025. This book is not availble through amazon.com.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.