Thence by descent to the present owner
Robert McNab, Ghost Ships: A Surrealist Love Triangle, New Haven & London, 2004, fig. 56, illustrated in colour p. 129
Invented by Oscar Domínguez in 1935, this process immediately became as important a Surrealist technique as automatic writing, collage, frottage and grattage. A rich surface pattern that emerges as a result has the appearance of corals, rocks or imaginary creatures. In the present work, the central area executed using decalcomania has the appearance of a mountainous landscape, and is set against a bright orange sky illuminated by the sun, and a foreground that can be interpreted as sand dunes or a river. The entire scene is bathed in the warm glow of the sun, giving the composition a magical, otherworldly atmosphere. Jürgen Pech wrote about Ernst’s paintings from this period: ‘In his romantic late work, Max Ernst is concerned with the forces of nature and life. The cosmic pictorial worlds approach the faraway, the infinity of the space. Landscapes are combined with ideas. With much joy in seeing, Max Ernst presents seemingly simple and yet complex galaxies, potential or parallel worlds beyond our imagination’ (J. Pech in Max Ernst. Dream and Revolution (exhibition catalogue), Moderna Museet, Stockholm & Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, 2008-09, p. 191).
But in color comes from the esteemed collection of Dominique de Menil (1908-1997), the French-American art collector, patron and philanthropist. Dominique de Menil (née Schlumberger) was born in Paris and studied at the Sorbonne. Following the Occupation she and her husband John left France for the United States, and settled in Houston. Dominique and John de Menil began building their collection with a purchase of a Cézanne watercolour in 1945, and soon turned over to their greatest passion – Surrealism and Cubism, as well as post-war American art. They formed friendships with many artists whose works they collected, including Ernst, Brauner, Magritte, Rauschenberg and Warhol. They helped organise Ernst’s first solo exhibition in the United States. A large part of their collection is today housed in the celebrated Menil Collection and the adjacent Rothko Chapel in Houston.
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