In an essay on Salvador Dali of 1941 George Orwell discussed the artist’s recent illustrations to his Secret Life as fundamentally ‘vulgar’; a return to the kitsch idioms of early twentieth century children’s book illustration. This paper explores the extent to which such kitsch returns suited surrealist purposes. Looking at the way various illustrational modes were appropriated by Max Ernst, the paper argues that the mobilisation of vulgarity could actually support a form of surrealist politics: the politics of nostalgia.
David Hopkins is Professor of Art History at the University of Glasgow. His publications include Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst: The Bride Shared (Oxford : Clarendon, 1998 ); Duchamp (London : Thames and Hudson, 1999, co-authored wIth Dawn Ades and Neil Cox); Dada and Surrealism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2004); Dada’s Boys: Masculinity After Duchamp (Yale, 2007); Virgin Microbe: Essays on Dada ( co-edited with Michael White, Chicago, Northwestern, 2013) and the edited over-view of current research, A Companion to Dada and Surrealism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.) He is currently preparing a book for Yale with the working title: Childish Things: The Tradition of Surrealism and the Culture of Childhood.