Max Ernst


Max Ernst




Max Ernst
1891 - 1976年
Inscribed max Ernst and with the foundry mark Susse fondr. Paris and numbered HC2 
Height: 30 7/8 in.
78.4 cm
Conceived in 1950 and cast between 1958 and 1973 in an edition of 9 plus 1 cast numbered 0/9 and 4 casts numbered HC; this example cast on October 27, 1959.
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Dr. Jürgen Pech has confirmed the authenticity of this work.


Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal
Acquired from the above on January 3, 1967


Michel-Louis Conil, "Max Ernst," in Informations et documents, no. 15, Paris, 1954, illustration of the plaster p. 21
Michel Seuphor, The Sculpture of this Century, New York, 1960, illustration of another cast p. 262
Masters of Surrealism: Ernst to Matta (exhibition catalogue), The Obelisk Gallery, London, 1961, illustration of another cast p. 26
Max Ernst (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1961, illustration of another cast p. 68
Max Ernst, Oeuvre sculpté 1913-1961 (exhibition catalogue), Le Point Cardinal, Paris, 1961, illustration of another cast p. 32
John Russell, Max Ernst, Leben und Werk, Cologne, 1966, no. 135, illustration of another cast p. 325
John Russell, Max Ernst, Life and Work, New York, 1967, no. 135, illustration of another cast p. 329
Max Ernst, Inside the Sight, Á l’intérieur de la vue, Das innere Gesicht, An Exhibition of Max Ernst Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Menil Family Collection (exhibition catalogue), Rice University, Institute for the Arts, Houston & traveling, 1970-73, illustration of another cast p. 142
Abram Lerner, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, New York, 1974, illustration of another cast p. 416
Max Ernst, A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1975, illustration of another cast p. 219
Max Ernst (exhibition catalogue), Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1975, illustration of another cast p. 130
Max Ernst, Retrospektive 1979 (exhibition catalogue), Haus der Kunst, Munich & Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1979, illustration of another cast p. 330
Max Ernst (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1983, illustration of another cast p. 169
Sarane Alexandrian, Max Ernst, Paris, 1986, illustration of another cast p. 130
Max Ernst, Sculpture 1934-1974 (exhibition catalogue), Cavaliero Fine Arts, New York, 1987, illustration of another cast p. 24
Werner Spies, Max Ernst, Oeuvre-Katalog, Werke 1939-1953, Houston, 1987, no. 2665, illustration of another cast p. 190
Max Ernst, The Sculpture (exhibition catalogue), Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh,  1990, illustration of another cast p. 33
Max Ernst, The Sculpture (exhibition catalogue), Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach; University Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley & Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, 1993, no. 35, illustration of another cast p. 33
Max Ernst, Skulptur (exhibition catalogue), Konsthall, Malmo, 1995-96, illustration of another cast p. 155
Max Ernst, Sculture / Sculptures (exhibition catalogue), Museo d'Arte Contemporaneo, Castello di Rivoli, 1996, illustration of another cast p. 160
Max Ernst, Esculturas, obras sobre papel, obras gráficas (exhibition catalogue), Museo Brasileiro da Es-cultura Marilisa Rathsam, São Paulo, 1997, illustration of another cast p. 75
Max Ernst, Skulpturen (exhibition catalogue), Stadtgalerie Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, 1997, illustration of another cast p. 117
Max Ernst, sculptures, maisons, paysages (exhibition catalogue), Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1998, illustration of another cast p. 172
Max Ernst, Skulpturen, Häuser, Landschaften (exhibition catalogue), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-West-falen, Dusseldorf, 1998, illustration of another cast p. 172
Max Ernst, esculturas sculptures (exhibition catalogue), Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, Lisbon, 1999-2000, illustration of another cast in color p. 54
Max Ernst, The Surrealist Universe in Sculpture, Painting and Photography (exhibition catalogue), Tokyo Station Gallery, Tokyo, 2000, no. S-35, illustration of another cast in color p. 54
Max Ernst (exhibition catalogue), Okazaki City Museum (Mindscape Museum), Okazaki & The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, 2001, illustration of another cast in color p. 126
Susanne Kaufmann, Im Spannungsfeld von Fläche und Raum, Studien zur Wechselwirkung von Malerei und Skulptur im Werk von Max Ernst, Weimar, 2003, illustration of another cast p. 355
Max Ernst (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Malingue, Paris, 2003, illustration of another cast in color p. 163
Jürgen Pech, Max Ernst—Plastische Werke, Cologne, 2005, illustration of the plaster p. 124, illustrations of other casts in color pp. 125-27


Beginning with his early career in Cologne, Ernst was fascinated with the materiality of his artistic process, pioneering techniques of frottage and grattage that became central to his transition from Dada to Surrealism. During the summer of 1934, Ernst had an extended sojourn in Switzerland, where he attended the exhibition Was is Surrealismus, held that summer at the Zurich Kunsthaus. In the alpine town of Maloja, he began his foray into sculpture by incising and decorating stones that he and Alberto Giacometti found in the riverbed. After returning to Paris later that year, Ernst began to experiment with three-dimensional forms in earnest, creating the first quintessentially Surrealist sculpture in Les Asperges de la lune (see fig. 1).

Finding that sculpture served as a logical extension of his interest in materiality and physicality from flat planes to the round, Ernst quickly embraced this new outlet of his imagination and creativity. While Ernst today is recognized primarily for his contributions to Dada and Surrealism as a collagist and painter, sculpture served an important role in clarifying and stimulating his own creative process. As he explained in his own terms, “when I come to a dead end in my paintings, which repeatedly happens, sculpture provides me with a way out. Because sculpture is even more like playing a game than painting is. In sculpture, both hands play a role, just as they do in love. It’s as though I were taking a vacation, to return to painting afterwards, refreshed” (quoted in Werner Spies, Max Ernst, A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1991, p. 252).

Ernst continued to sculpt during his exile in the United States, producing some of his most iconic works during his time in Sedona, Arizona and in Great River, Long Island. He spent nearly a decade in America, eventually returning to France permanently in 1953. During the summer of 1950 however, Ernst briefly set foot back in Paris for the first time since he fled the city with Peggy Guggenheim in 1941. An incarnate harbinger of Ernst's return from exile, the playful La Parisienne was probably inspired by his experimental sojourn in the post-war city, as it conveys a subdued wistfulness for cosmopolitan Paris and the beautiful women that inhabited it. The litheness of the body, anchored in strong hips, is echoed in an elongated neck that supports a proudly cocked head, reminiscent of a young woman in traditional bonnet. While Paris was in the forefront of Ernst’s mind, the totemic quality of this work also correlates to his enduring interest in visual motifs of indigenous cultures of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. As the scholar John Russell notes, “Ernst was a pioneer collector of what was once called ‘primitive art’” (John Russell, op. cit., pp. 206-07). Additionally, the present work is an early precursor to one of Ernst’s iconic vertical pole sculptures which would enrich his oeuvre throughout the 1960s (see fig. 2).

The form of this sculpture is distinctly feminine, evocative of both fertility figures from antiquity and totemic objects of Native American cultures (see fig. 3). These objects possessed deeply spiritual and even sacred meaning in the cultural context of their creation, and through allusion to their objective form, Ernst challenges the viewer to ponder the role of spirituality and profound layers of meaning in the modern world, embodied by the stylized outline of the modern Parisian woman. However, Ernst’s appropriation of ancient and non-Western cultures have also been interpreted as a purely aesthetic pursuit. As Diana Waldman comments, “Ernst’s sculpture occupies a unique place in the totality of his oeuvre, for it does not reflect the concerns of Surrealism… Although Ernst alone among the Surrealist painters was able to create sculpture, it was not Surrealist sculpture. Instead, it reflects Ernst’s awareness of primitive art… Ernst exploits the primitive forms of humor rather than their emotional power, which sets him apart from Giacometti, whose primitivistic work was full of drama and intensity" (quoted in Max Ernst Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 2013).

The present work was acquired by Elspeth McConnell shortly after it was cast, and remained in her collection for half a century. Several other casts reside in renowned public collections, including at the Menil Collection in Houston and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian. Max Ernst himself kept the cast numbered 6/9, which now forms part of the Max Ernst Museum in Brül.