Once in a lifetime you may get the chance to share a pivotal event with a friend and this, I had good fortune to witness. I watched my friend, Amy Ernst take a professional step into the upper level of the art world. She had spent a lifetime living in the shadow of relatives who were significant in the history of the twentieth century modern and contemporary art. Never intending to follow in their footsteps, she eventually found her artistic voice.
Then, there was no turning back. Finally, her talent was recognized apart from her forbears. With great pleasure, I had the opportunity to observe the recognition and share in the celebration.
On September 4, 2019, the Special Show/Sonderausstellung of Amy Ernst’s unique works at Die Galerie in Frankfurt, Germany opened. Her show ran in conjunction with “Surrealism and Beyond” which exhibited various two and three dimensional works by Max Ernst, Jimmy Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini and Roberto Matta.
The Night of the Opening
While Amy and I walked to the gallery in the glowing light of sundown, it felt more like mid-summer than near autumn. We were dressed for a party and clearly not for the present temperatures. In the end no matter how we were dressed, the evenings events superseded the weather. We arrived early because she was scheduled for an interview with Edda Rossler of Arts 21 for an article that would appear in the Frankfurter Neue Press the following Friday. Ms. Rossler made copious notes of their conversation which covered Amy’s exhibition, creative process, life, etc.
Prior to that interview, I took some snaps of Amy with Peter Femfert, the director of Die Galerie at different points within the gallery. Amy who has an impish sense of humor played with her grandfather, Max Ernst’s sculptures.
Even though the official time for the opening was 6:30 pm, people had already begun to wander in at 6:15pm. I noticed that everyone was still in summer casual dress. By 6:45pm, the first floor was jammed with people shoulder to shoulder. The overflow made its way to the second and filled it quickly. The gallery was heating up. I observed that in the rooms where Amy’s artworks were where hung that the viewers were spending an unusual amount of time. They were closely inspecting the mono-print and paper collages. Her artwork was captivating the audience.
Peter Femfert, the gallery director gave a lovely introduction about the exhibition and introduced Amy. Dr. Jurgen Wilhelm, CEO of the Max Ernst Foundation gave an insightful lecture on every artist in the exhibition. Due to the number of artists about whom he was speaking as well as switching between German and English, the speech lasted well over 30 minutes. We all stood in close quarters intently listening despite the discomfort from the heat. In the end, everyone had a good time. This was obvious by the fact that there were still many hanging around the gallery after closing. We had the after party next on the agenda.
Highlights from Amy’s Exhibition
Amy and I had arrived in Frankfurt a few days before the opening so we passed by the gallery to see what was happening at the installation. As luck would have it, Amy’s works were completely installed. What remained to be done were filling the holes in the walls that were left over from the prior exhibition and touching them up with paint. While Amy spoke about her creative process with Thyra Mecklenburg-Solodkoff, project manager of Die Galerie, I took the opportunity to photograph the installation without the hindrance of an opening night crowd.
Ready for the After Party
At the after party, Amy had a more intimate atmosphere to meet with the special invitees. And, I had the chance to chat with Amy’s Cologne relatives who had made the hour and half trip to come and support her. Dr. Jurgen Wilhelm and Dr. Achim Sommer, director of the Max Ernst Museum had also traveled from there to be present. Not to diminish their attendance but I think that Amy was more thrilled to have had family at the opening. I would have been too.
The Following Day
Luckily the second interview was set up for late morning the day after the opening. Amy and I arrived at the gallery a bit before the appointed time to hear the news that many of her works had sold. She was ecstatic. Enrico Sauda and Amy sat down at the table in the gallery’s library for a “tête de tête” conversation about her work, her family and her life.
“Surrealism and Beyond” Exhibition Highlights
Lastly, I should mention how both exhibitions meshed together beautifully. What I found most intriguing is what Amy had to say regarding the artists in this exhibition. She related her unique relationships with most of them as well as shared her knowledge of how they interacted with one another.