"Je n'irai donc pas vivre en Amérique": Marx Ernst's refusal to leave France

Ernst, Max, painter (1891-1976). Autograph letter signed twice ("Max Ernst").

Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche, "Mercredi" [1939/1940].

4to. 2 pp.


Highly interesting letter to the collector and critic Christian Zervos, asserting that Ernst will not emigrate to the U.S., probably following his brief internment in France as an "undesirable foreigner" at the beginning of World War II. Ernst thanks Zervos for forwarding a letter from his son Jimmy and for some issues of the Cahiers d'Art, before inviting him and his wife Yvonne Marion to his house in Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche for the summer. Emigration to the U.S. was already on the table, but Ernst writes that he has "no desire to leave" his house and therefore "will not go to live in America", preferring to "live and work" in France. In the second part of the letter, Ernst expresses his relief concerning the date of a coming exhibition in Zervos's art gallery MAI, as he much prefers "waiting until the fall" so as to "prepare a very beautiful exhibition in all tranquility".

The letter must have been written sometime between his release from French internment in Camp de Gurs around Christmas 1939 and the beginning of the German invasion of France. Soon into the German occupation, Ernst was arrested by the Gestapo but managed to escape. This time he would not return to his house in Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche, which his partner Leonora Carrington had "sold" to a neighbour for a bottle of cognac to save it from confiscation before fleeing herself. In this dangerous situation, Ernst accepted Peggy Guggenheim's offer to accompany her to New York. Jimmy Ernst had tried to secure U.S. visas for Max Ernst and his mother Luise Straus when they were interned in Gurs, but Straus would have had to marry Ernst, which she refused to do. While Max Ernst obtained his visa in 1941, Luise Straus remained in France. She was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in 1944.

Traces of folds. Minor browning and three minimal tears to the upper margin.

Stock Code: BN#60431 Tags: ,