Max Ernst

/Works and biography


Zoomorphic Couple (Couple zoomorphe), 1933
Oil on canvas, 91.9 x 73.3 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 75
© Max Ernst, by SIAE 2008


In Zoomorphic Couple, the appearance of light, sinuous channels through dark painted areas produces a relieflike effect suggestive of frottage (rubbing technique). However, the artist created the effect here by putting paint-laden string or rope on top of the canvas and spraying over it. The image of the bird, which recurs frequently in Max Ernst’s work from 1925, had become an almost obsessive preoccupation by 1930. In the present painting one can discern a vaguely birdlike form and a caressing humanoid arising from the primordial material that gives them their substance. The forms have the effect of dream or poetic apparition. The sense of genesis and evolutionary stirrings in Zoomorphic Couple is complemented by the creative inventiveness of the artist, who combines layers of pastel color under spattered, blown, and dripped paint.

credits: Hangar Design Group