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La grossesse étrange de la rencontre étrange



By (artist) Max Walter Svanberg


Ink drawing, 1953, exhibited in 1955 at the Étoile scellée.

Signature and date on the lower right: max walter S 53

"I count my first encounter with Max Walter Svanberg's work among the great ones of my life. Experiencing his work in all its force made me feel a kind of dread within me, which perhaps is the same thing as fascination….
Such a work makes specialists' usual criteria for judging a painting seem ridiculous. They might want to find it some illustrious precedents, but they would have to admit that the work transcends, for example, all the "Temptations of Saint Anthony." In fact, it is the exploration and expression of our own temptation today…
Svanberg presents us with a world that is nothing short of shocking, in the most subversive sense of the word. I always thought that the certain kind of shock contained in the realm of the erotic, the shock that impresses us so deeply in some dreams that we retain the cruelest nostalgia for it upon waking, is what gives us the idea of paradise.
In this world, carried by a cosmic heave, we force our way into our own mind and confront the most seductive, lascivious theory of monsters yet seen… Svanberg's eyes watch us, with a Byzantine stare, from every angle, from every great hill and intimate valley, from every star. We might think of that famous pineal eye which humanity lost over the course of evolution and which, today, would have the serpent's exact power: "The Serpent is a magician for his knowledge of venom and spirals, a soothsayer for his view of the occult through his pineal eye, and a musician besides, but these three faculties are but aspects of a fourth faculty: the Serpant's sense of the fourth dimension" (Don Néroman: La Leçon de Platon, Niclaus éd.). The almost mythic quest for this "dimension" grew increasingly fierce during the first part of the century. The Golden Ratio, found in the arrangement of seeds in a section of apple (5+10), would be its key. Let us praise Max Walter for showing us the Golden Ratio's carnal reverse." André Breton (Hommage à Max Walter Svanberg, In : Medium, Nouvelle série n° 3, mai 1954, p. 2)

"My art is a hymn to a woman. I adore her; I am on my knees before her strange mix of dream and reality, of convulsive beauty and chaste lust. She is alone in a rainbow-colored room. Her skin is made of foreign clothes and clouds of butterflies, of events and scents, of dawn’s rosy fingers, of noon’s clear light, of dusk’s blue loves and of big-eyed night fish.
Her fevered, rainy cheek; her drowning eyes encircled by charred woods; her butterfly kiss; a burning flower in a gaping wound; the conversation between a fish and a bird through a seashell; the unforgettable sound of her high heels hitting the pavement; all this is so clear that it almost becomes the changing landscape of my dream Woman, Her seductive attributes, which simultaneously unveil and conceal her, which shock, ornament, and intensify. But She is a mercurial vision. Just when I think I’ve seized her, She escapes, leaving her adorer’s hands covered in gold powder…" Max Walter Svanberg, (Malmö, Malmö Konsthall, Max Walter Svanberg, "Dokumentation over utvecklingen in I den mangtydigt blommande och progressivt chockande imaginismen", 1979, p. 29)

“In this mythology of desire, man is rarely evoked other than through allusions to his carnal dynamism, often represented by a quadruped, a clawed, hairy monster who rears his head to howl in praise of the woman, domineering and serene, standing on his back. Svanberg’s 1950 lithograph, Etrange Grossesse, is reprised in a 1953 drawing. Very few details are changed in the drawing: the lips of the woman’s genital-face hold a cigarette instead of the branch of a plant, the animal’s open maw reveals teeth instead of flowers, and a sun face with arrows darting from its eyes appears on the monster’s flank. The triumph of feminine spirituality over masculine bestiality?” José Pierre (Max Walter Svanberg et le règne féminin, Paris, Le musée de poche, 1975, p. 66)

- Paris, l'Etoile scellée, Max Walter Svanberg (préface d'André Breton), 1955, n° 12


- André Breton, Hommage à Max Walter Svanberg, In : Medium, Nouvelle série n° 3, mai 1954, rep.s.p., p. 2
- José Pierre, Max Walter Svanberg et le règne féminin, Paris, Le musée de poche, 1975, rep.p.67, p. 66
- Malmö, Malmö Konsthall, Max Walter Svanberg, « Dokumentation över utvecklingen in i den mangtydigt blommande och progressivt chockande imaginismen », 1979, rep.p.181
- Ragnar von Holten, Lettre du 30 juillet 2002 adressée à la Galerie 1900-2000

Creation date1953
Date of publication 1953
Physical description45,7 x 37,8 cm (18 x 14 7/8 in.) - Encre sur papier--Ink on paper
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 4004
CategoriesFine Art, Modern Paintings
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See also

1 Work

Max Walter Svanberg

À l'étoile scellée
Max Walter Svanberg


Carton d'invitation pour l'exposition Max Walter Svanberg organisée à l'Étoile scellée du 18 mars au 10 avril 1955.

Deux images, une notice descriptive, une bibliographie.

[Breton's Manuscripts and Drawings] dossier Le Surréalisme et la peinture, [Expositions] 1955, Étoile scellée