Georges Hugnet: The Love Life of the Spumifers

November 16, 2011 — February 11, 2012

Ubu Gallery presented Georges Hugnet: The Love Life of the Spumifers, an exhibition of hand-painted photographic postcards by the eminent Surrealist artist, poet, bookbinding designer and critic. These bizarre, lusciously painted images illustrate Hugnet’s work, The Love Life of the Spumifers, where each accompanying text poetically and humorously catalogues the mating habits of a fantastical creature or Spumifer.

The Love Life of the Spumifers, or La Vie Amoureuse des Spumifères, combines Surrealist poetry’s fascination with l’amour and Dada’s tendency towards deliberate grammatical spontaneity and absurdity. Made-up words, like bowoodling, friskadoodling and alabamaraminating, are concocted to describe the seductive strategies of his imaginary creatures. Each text is dedicated to a different creature, describing how it woos, teases, gropes and molests its intended love conquest. Each Spumifer is illustrated by a gouache “beast,” which is added to an early Twentieth Century vintage “French” photo postcard. The mellifluously painted monsters slyly slither around the bare flesh of the pictured “mademoiselle,” nibbling and tickling, arousing her sexual desire. Hugnet’s illustrations seduce the viewer, parodying the human pursuit of love and lovemaking through these adorable grotesques.

Hugnet realized the series The Love Life of the Spumifers during 1947–48 and wrote the accompanying texts in the early 1960s. The whereabouts of four of the 40 original Spumifers intended to complete the series are at present unknown. Hugnet composed only 33 texts and one of those texts accompanied a missing work. He created a number of additional Spumifers, maybe as many as 20, which were not part of the final 40 which he had intended to publish as a book.

In addition to the Spumifers, Ubu Gallery presented Georges Hugnet: Selected Works, a contextual exhibition of collages – including originals from La Septième face du dé and Huit jours à Trébaumec – gouaches and publications, and unique ephemera made by Georges Hugnet from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Ubu Gallery is also pleased to offer a limited edition publication package, which was produced to coincide with the exhibition. Housed in an elaborate and evocative slipcase, it contains a fully-illustrated French version of La Vie amoureuse des Spumifères produced by Myrtille Hugnet, the widow of the artist, and a separate text-only English translation by Michael Fineberg. Ubu Gallery is also offering a deluxe version, produced by Myrtille Hugnet, housed in an illustrated clamshell box, and containing a limited edition, digital reproduction of a Spumifer.

A catalogue produced in conjunction with the exhibition is available for purchase at the Ubu Gallery store.

ARTIST
Georges Hugnet

RESOURCES
Exhibition checklist
Display case checklist
Press release

PRESS
Iowa Research Online: Dada/Surrealism, No. 19 / “Hugnet, Georges, La Vie amoureuse des Spumifères … The Love Life of the Spumifers” / 2013 / Cosana Eram
Flavorwire / “Altered Postcards from the Belle Époque Featuring French Nudes and Comical Monsters” / September 5, 2012 / Paul Laster (slideshow)
Huffington Post / “Haiku Reviews” / January 20, 2012 / Peter Frank / 1 reproduction
The Peregrine Papers / “Little Monsters” / January 19, 2012 / Regina Mandell / 5 reproductions
The New York Times / “Litle Creatures, Witty and Exotic” / January 5, 2012 / Ken Johnson / 1 reproduction
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / “Wer? Ein Spumifer!” / January 1, 2012 / N.R. 52 / Lisa Zeitz / 3 reproductions (PDF)
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / “Wer? Ein Spumifer!” / January 1, 2012 / N.R. 52 / Lisa Zeitz (Online)

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FROM THE UBU GALLERY STORE
Georges Hugnet: The Love Life of the Spumifers (Deluxe limited edition publication package)
Georges Hugnet: The Love Life of the Spumifers (English translation with text only)
Behind the Surrealist Curtain: Sex, Sensuality & Silence

SELECTED WORKS FROM THE EXHIBITION