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George Hugnet, The Love Life of the Spumifers


Georges Hugnet: The Love Life of the Spumifers, is an exhibition of hand-painted photographic girlie 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. Above: Le Matricol Odorant [“The Oderiferous Matricoll”], No. 7 from the series La Vie Amoureuse des Spumifères [“The Love Life of the Spumifers”] ca. 1948 Gouache on vintage carte postale (ca. 1920) 3 3/8 x 5 5/8 inches.

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. Words like bowoodling, friskadoodling and alabamaraminating are concocted by Hugnet 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 during 1947–48 and wrote the accompanying texts in the early 1960s. The whereabouts of 4 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.

George Hugnet
The Love Life of the Spumifers
November 16, 2011 – January 28, 2012

Ubu Gallery
416 East 59 Street
New York NY 10022

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