Max Ernst’s painting ‘Europa nach dem Regen’
This apocalyptic work, made in 1940-42, shows a filigree landscape, brittle and intricately composed of thin corpses and decayed plant and mineral matter. The sky is pure, clean, the petrified earth eerie russets, yellows and greens. Birds, bird-headed humans and other indeterminate creatures hang or stand elongated. The flotsam-encrusted architecture suggests nature spreading over civilisation. Before this painting, Ernst made another with the same title in 1933, which resembles an aerial view of Europe ruined.
Durs Grünbein’s poems ‘Europa nach dem letzten Regen’
Like the painting it is named after, Grünbein’s sequence of eleven poems is about an aftermath, about what remains after destruction. The poems, written in August to October 1996, focus on Dresden, bombed in 1945, as a crystallisation of Europe’s recent history. The first poem posits the perspective of a displaced person, returning home after the war is over to find a city destroyed. The final poem nods to the painter Ernst in the lines ‘Im Ernst, Max, von so einer Stadt / Träumt man leicht’, and the reference to ‘grausam zerschlissener Brokat’ recalls the texture of Ernst’s landscape in the painting.
See more on Dresden in poetry and on Grünbein's poetry