Forest and Sun

Dark atmospheric painting of sun, obscured by clouds between two tree groves.
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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  • Dark atmospheric painting of sun, obscured by clouds between two tree groves.

Date:

1927

Artist:

Max Ernst
French, born Germany, 1891–1976

About this artwork

Among his many recollections of childhood, Max Ernst often recounted his fear and fascination with the forest that surrounded his home. He wrote of feeling “delight and oppression and what the Romantics called ‘emotion in the face of Nature.’” By expressing his thoughts in these terms, Ernst linked himself with the spiritual landscape tradition of Romanticism, which conceived of an invisible realm at work in the natural world.

This dark and mysterious forest scene dates to one of the most creative periods of Ernst’s career. Spurred by the Surrealist leader André Breton’s proclamation of “pure psychic automatism” as an artistic ideal, he developed the innovative technique of frottage, his term for the method of reproducing a relief design (like the surface of a piece of wood) by laying paper or canvas over it and rubbing it with a pencil, charcoal, or another medium. In Forest and Sun Ernst used this technique to create a petrified forest, which he imbued with a sense of primordial otherworldliness. By scraping away almost-dry paint on the canvas (a process he called grattage), the artist produced the encircled sun at the center of the composition. Ernst painted six variations of the forest and sun theme. As in the other five canvases, the tree trunks suggest a letter in the artist’s name: in this case, a capital M.

On View

Modern Art, Gallery 395

Artist

Max Ernst

Title

Forest and Sun

Date

1927

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Signed, l.r.: Max Ernst

Dimensions

66 × 82.5 cm (26 × 32 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler

Reference Number

2007.276

Copyright

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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