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Max Ernst

/Works and biography

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Attirement of the Bride (La Toilette de la mariée), 1940
Oil on canvas, 129.6 x 96.3 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 78
© Max Ernst, by SIAE 2008


Attirement of the Bride is an example of Max Ernst’s veristic or illusionistic Surrealism, in which a traditional technique is applied to an incongruous or unsettling subject. The pageantry and elegance of the image are contrasted with its primitivizing aspects—the garish colors, the animal and monster forms—and the blunt phallic Symbolism of the poised spearhead. The central scene is contrasted as well with its counterpart in the picture-within-a-picture at the upper left. In this detail the bride appears in the same pose, striding through a landscape of overgrown classical ruins. Here Ernst has used the technique of decalcomania invented in 1935 by Oscar Domínguez, in which diluted paint is pressed onto a surface with an object that distributes it unevenly, such as a pane of glass. Ernst had long identified himself with the bird, and had invented an alter ego, Loplop, Superior of the Birds, in 1929. Thus one may perhaps interpret the bird-man at the left as a depiction of the artist; the bride may in some sense represent the young English Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington.

credits: Hangar Design Group