An emperor, a writer and an artist. Even though their stories played out in completely different epochs and under completely disparate conditions, they are united by historical analogy. The trans-epochal cross-fading of their biographies visualizes how Napoleon, Victor Hugo and Max Ernst were forced into exile by the caesuras of history and by the new rulers in their native countries. They experienced this as a kind of wilderness, as être d’ailleurs. In the pictorial understanding of the three protagonists, the crossing of the water as well as the wild rock by the sea, mark their dislodgment from, but also their longing for the lost homeland. They are symbols of dislocation respectively identification. At the center of this narrative we find the painting Napoleon in the Wilderness (1941, MoMA, New York) by Max Ernst, in which the painter comes to terms with a long wait, a dramatic passage, his arrival on foreign soil and his love affairs. His statement that he had already begun with the picture before his departure in France and, after his arrival, came to a new solution of the picture by turning it 180°, metaphorically describes not only the artistic new beginning on the other side of the Ocean, but also marks the turning point in his life.
- Schieder, Martin (Author)