A hardware store we were in was about to throw out a large stack of wallpaper samples, and said I could have them if I wanted to. I took them and the reult is this series. Most of these drawings were done on the front or the back of those samples. “At The First Clear Word” (1923) by Max Ernst. That painting was actually part of a series of murals in the house of the surrealist poet Paul Éluard (1895 – 1952) in Eaubonne, a few kilometers north of Paris, and they were rediscovered just in 1967... under layers of old paint and wallpaper..... The title of the Ernst painting comes from one of Éluard’s poems - "At the first clear word, at the first laugh of your flesh The thick road disappears Everything starts over. The timid flower, the airless flower of the night sky Veiled clumsy hands Hands of a child. Eyes raised upon your face and it’s daylight on the earth The first youth is closed The only pleasure. Home of land, home of scent and of dew Without age, without reason, without ties Oblivion without shadows."
After the war Ernst and Dorthea Tanning paid a quick visit to Eluard's house to see what had become of it and the paintings he had done in it in 1938-38. It was empty and unlocked. They went in and saw that one of Ernst's paintings was peeling off the wall in the main room of the house. Ernst peeled it off carefully put in in his car and the couple drove away with it. Somehow the local police found out about the theift, tracked Ernst down, and in the middle of the night confronted him about it. After Ernst explained himslf the police advised him to... "Just move on... and don't tell anybody about it."