After completing his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and making contact with the surrealists in Paris, Edgar Jené moved to Vienna in 1935, where he influenced the Phantastichen Realismus movement, of which Ernst Fuchs and Erich Brauer were members. Jené founded the first Austrian surrealist review, Planh, where his friend the poet Paul Celan published some twenty poems, including his famous, Todesfugue. In 1948 Jené provided two engravings for Celan's book of poems, Des Sand aus den urnen (which the poet later destroyed because of typographical errors). In return, Celan wrote a preface titled Der Traum von Traum for a book of Jené's lithographs. In 1948 Breton asked Jean Dominique Rey to "convey the surrealists' regards to [our] friend Edgar Jené." Rey searched a war-devastated Vienna for his friend, whom he had not seen since 1938, and finally reported that Jené lived in "a building sliced in two: the bombs, sparing the façade, had bared the back." In 1949 Jené exhibited in Paris at Galerie Nina Dausset, and André Breton introduced him with an automatic poem: "L'art de Jené ce ménure-lyre au carreau de gypse d'une fenêtre de grotte don nant sur les premières prairies de feu en fleurs..." (The art of Jené, this lyrebird at the gypsum pane of a grotto window overlooking the first blossoming fire prairies...). In 1950 and 1954 Jena published, with Max Holzer, two volumes titled Surrealistische Publikationen, a German translation of writings by Julien Gracq, André Breton, Benjamin Peret and Antonin Artaud, with illustrations by Brauner, Donati and Tanguy. In March 1952 he introduced surrealism in the Sarre, with the important exhibition Surrealist Painting in Europe, in Sarrebrücken. That same year he was given a retrospective at the Museum of Hagen. In 1968, having settled in the Nièvre region of France, he had another retrospective, at the Maison de la Culture, in Bourges. At the 1972 exhibition Surrealism, at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Patrick Waldberg showed two of Jené's paintings from 1944, L'Oiseau Roc and Chevaux fantômes, saying: "His unshakeable loyalty to surrealist thinking marks his work, which his discretion kept out of the mainstream of the great publicity trends." In 1988 the Musée de la Seita planned a tribute to Jené with an ensemble of his paintings prepared by his widow, Erika. The tribute never came about, however, as she died before its realization. At the same time, Friedhelm Häring wrote two volumes on Jené, one on his drawings and the other on his gouaches. 

Edgar Jené

Born 1904 in Sarrebrücken, Germany; died 1983 in La Chapelle-Saint-André, France. 

Mondvogel, 1950