Max Ernst - La mer - image-1

Lot 323 D

Max Ernst - La mer

Auction 1059 - overview Cologne
27.11.2015, 18:00 - Modern Art
Estimate: 60.000 € - 70.000 €
Result: 68.200 € (incl. premium)

Max Ernst

La mer

Reverse glass painting 48.5 x 44 cm Framed. Scratched signature 'max ernst' lower left and titled 'LA MER' lower right. - Professionally restored, several areas stabilized with wax, these somewhat brighter. No retouchings. One tiny loss of colour to upper left margin.

“Around 1919, as the imagination was striving to master and subjugate the terrible monster that had been further strengthened by the war, Max Ernst resolved to bury the old Ratio - the cause of so much disorder and disaster - not under its own rubble, but under the free depiction of a world that had been liberated. ... The path from the man to his visions - by way of his ideas - is not a long one and it is not far from the nature of real things to the nature of imagined ones." (Paul Eluard, Über die Malerei hinaus; excerpted from: A l'intérieur de la vue, Paris 1948, in: exhib. cat. Max Ernst Gemälde und Graphik 1920 - 1950, Schloss Augustusburg, Brühl 1951, p. 69).
André Breton's “Surrealist Manifesto” was published in Paris in 1924. At that time, in Montmartre, Max Ernst rented his first studio of his own, where he could finally work undisturbed. He spent the summer of 1925 in Brittany. Not only did he - stimulated by the grain of the wooden floor - invent the frottage technique there, he also created a relatively large number of images whose subject matter is, in a broad sense, the sea. Most of these works were done in oil on canvas, but wood and card were also sometimes used as supports. In our painting the artist has deliberately chosen to use a pane of glass, because this painting surface exhibits a particular brilliance and is also especially well-suited for the technique of hatching with a single-rowed marbling comb. The composition displays undulating bands of cobalt blue lines, which are heightened with white at some points and which rest on a black ground. These linear elements take the form of a diagonal cross; however, instead of simply intersecting in the middle, the individual lines can be differentiated into a front and a rear band. The horizontal stripe in white and light blue occupies a fifth of the image. Through the contrasting, light-filled presence of this strip of sky, the abysmal depth of the sea appears as though it were guarding a secret, connected both with the universe and with the complex realm of the sub- and unconscious. Diving down into the subconscious - into the sea - may bring about the expansion of the soul's realm into the seemingly boundless. Here, with dream-like assurance - but nonetheless depersonalised - Max Ernst gives symbolic form to his notion of transcendence in the form of the poetically titled painting “La mer”.

Catalogue Raisonné

Spies/Metken 980


Collection Dr. Viktor Achter, Mönchengladbach (since 1951); Private collection, Rhineland


Brühl/Berlin 1951 (Schloß Augustusburg/Haus am Waldsee), Max Ernst Gemälde und Graphik 1920 - 1950, exhib. cat. no. 19 (here dated "1926")