Tag Archive | Max Ernst

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, Woman, Old Man and Flower

Max Ernst Woman Old Man Flower
Photo By Gail

Max Ernst painted the first state of Woman, Old Man and Flower in 1923, the year after he moved from Cologne to Paris to join the nascent Surrealist group. He subsequently modified elements of this picture. Most astonishingly, he added the mysterious, partially transparent, partially modeled, fan-topped figure in the foreground — presumably the flower referenced in the painting’s title. Even before leaving Germany, Ernst had been thinking about translating the collage and overpainting strategies of his small Dada works on paper into oil on canvas. The results achieved included radical leaps in scale, intensified colors, and what he described to fellow Dadaist Tristan Tzara as “a much insaner effect.”

Photographed as part of the Exhibit, Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, Up Through January 1st, 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art.

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Modern Art Monday Presents: On Time Off Time By Dorothea Tanning

On Time Off Time

Dorothea Tanning (August 25, 1910 – January 31, 2012) was an American painter, printmaker, sculptor, writer and poet. Her early work was influenced by Surrealism, and she was the 4th and final wife of famous German surrealist Max Ernst (1891 – 1976).

In her own words Tanning noted the following about On Time Off Time:
“What I remember most about this picture is the support. It was a piece of wonderful linen that I stretched and prepared myself. It was the only time I ever did any such thing. And then, of course, when it was done, I felt I had to make some rare precious picture on it, and I think the words I used were the key to the enigmatic quality that I wanted.” Other than that, not much is known about this painting’s meaning.

Dorothea Tanning died at her home Manhattan in 2012, home at age 101 – wow!

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, Two Children Are Threatened By a Nightingale 

Two Children Are Threatened By a Nightingale
Photo By Gail

A red wooden gate affixed to the painted surface opens onto a painted scene dominated by blue sky. At left, a female figure brandishes a small knife; another falls limp in a swoon; a man atop the roof carries off a third, his hand outstretched to grab a real knob fastened to the frame. The title of the work (inscribed at the base), was inspired by a fever dream the young Max Ernst experienced while in bed with measles.

As Ernst recalled in third-person, the dream was “provoked by an imitation-mahogany panel opposite his bed, the grooves of the wood taking successively the aspect of an eye, a nose, a bird’s head, a menacing nightingale, a spinning top, and so on.” A poem Ernst penned shortly before making this work in 1924 begins, “At nightfall, at the outskirts of the village, two children are threatened by a nightingale.”

Two Children Are Threatened By a Nightingale is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jean Arp, Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2

Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms
Photo By Gail

Jean Arp, also known as Hans Arp (September 16, 1886 – June 7, 1966) was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as Hans, and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as Jean. Interesting!

Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zürich in 1916. In 1920, as Hans Arp, along with Max Ernst, and the social activist Alfred Grünwald, he set up the Cologne Dada group. However, in 1925 his work also appeared in the first exhibition of the surrealist group at the Galérie Pierre in Paris. Through his investigation of biomorphism (as seen in Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2, 1932, above) and of chance and accident, he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Constellation with Five White and Two Black Forms: Variation 2 by Jean (Hans) Arp is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. View it in Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 12, 5th Floor.

Recent Terrestrials by Alexander Ross at David Nolan Gallery

Alexander Ross
All Photos By Gail

On last week’s ambitious Art Crawl, Geoffrey and I hit up David Nolan Gallery as our first stop of the evening and were extremely charmed by Recent Terrestrials, an exhibition of new work by Alexander Ross. Bringing together a series of large-scale paintings and a group of smaller drawings, the exhibition signifies a variety of recent formal and thematic innovations for the artist.

Alexander Ross
The Surface of the Above, Untitled, Painting is Completely Flat, Despite its Multidimensional Appearance

Ross is best known for his biomorphic imagery, wherein modeled forms suggest molecular ecosystems as viewed through a microscope, or surreal landscapes inspired by Max Ernst. In recent years, the artist has developed a distinctive color palette that includes occasional flashes of red and yellow emerging within multiple shades of green. Ross’s characteristic handling of paint – through which shapes are given dimensionality in incremental bands of shading – might suggest a photorealistic endeavor. However, viewed as a whole, his compositions can be understood more accurately as abstractions, where the interplay of color and form, highlight and shadow become the focus.

Alexander Ross

Alexander Ross

With Recent Terrestrials, Ross redirects his emphasis toward imagery recalling “grotesques,” a style of architectural ornament found throughout Europe that incorporates ugly or playfully contorted faces.  I believe they are also called Gargoyles, but Ross’s painted figures remind me of the ‘claymation’ technique used in animated films best exemplified the Gumby franchise. These sneering faces also have a political dimension, conveying the artist’s restlessness in response to what he perceives to be disquieting geological and social changes in civil life.

Alexander Ross

Another group of paintings finds the artist un-mounted from his established vantage point, in which a clear blue sky serves as a neutral backdrop. Radically shifting this familiar perspective, a number of Ross’s new works comprise intricately worked lattices or cellular matrices, appearing both luminous and translucent. In an alternative reading, these can also be seen as cross-sections of the earth where unusual concave forms suggest subterranean excavations.

Alexander Ross

Recent Terrestrials by Alexander Ross will be on Exhibit Through December 6th, 2014 at David Nolan Gallery, Located a 527 West 29th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District. House are Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

Recent Terrestrials Signage

Modern Art Monday Presents: Leonora Carrington, Self-Portrait

Leonora Carrington Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) was born and educated in England but lived most of her adult life in Mexico City. She was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s. At one point, Carrington was involved in a relationship with fellow surrealist Max Ernst, but the couple never married.

Here is a detailed description of Self-Portrait from Met Museum Dot Org:

Sporting white jodhpurs and a wild mane of hair, Carrington is perched on the edge of a chair in this curious, dreamlike scene, with her hand outstretched toward the prancing hyena and her back to the tailless rocking horse flying behind her. The daughter of an English industrialist, Carrington spent her childhood on a country estate surrounded by animals and reading fairy tales and legends. She revisited these memories in her adulthood, creating paintings populated with real and imagined creatures. Here, the white horse, which Carrington used as her symbolic surrogate, gallops freely into the verdant landscape beyond the curtained window.

Leonora Carrington’s Self-Portait was painted in 1937 and is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Max Ernst, Napoleon in the Wilderness

Max Ernst Napoleon in the Wilderness
Photo By Gail

Max Ernst (born in Germany on April 2, 1891) was a prolific artist and a primary pioneer of both Dada and Surrealism. Seriously, his life and career are so mind-blowing they almost take too long to talk about. In Ernst’s painting Napoleon in the Wilderness (1941), a semi-nude female figure (representing his mistress at the time, Leonora Carrington) holds a strange, whimsical trumpet while almost encased inside one of several organic rock and coral formations amide a decaying fantasy landscape. Like many of Ernst’s rather eerie landscapes, Napoleon in the Wilderness is loaded with symbolism including the artist’s own sense of loss and grief, and the promise of decay and renewal. It was around the time of this painting that Ernst, who was a bit of a Ladies Man (to put it politely) abandoned Carrington to marry American socialite and art patron, Peggy Guggenheim (known for having an uncle who lent their surname to a number of large Art Museums).

Napoleon in the Wilderness is part of the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, where it resides on the 4th floor. For anyone interested in learning more about the wildly fascinating life and career of Max Ernst, I recommend the excellent documentary, Max Ernst, which is available through Netflix.