Max Ernst - Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft) - image-1
Max Ernst - Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft) - image-2
Max Ernst - Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft) - image-1Max Ernst - Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft) - image-2

Lot 34 D

Max Ernst - Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft)

Auction 1247 - overview Cologne
04.06.2024, 18:00 - Modern and Contemporary Art - Evening Sale
Estimate: 150.000 €
Result: 189.000 € (incl. premium)

Max Ernst

Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft)

Oil on panel. 26.9 x 35.3 cm. Framed. Signed 'max ernst' in black lower right. Signed, dated and titled 'Les antipodes du paysage max ernst 1954' verso. - In very fine condition with fresh colours. Minimal marginal retouches.

The Peter Schneppenheim Collection

With six works by Max Ernst, comprising three paintings, one sculpture (Lots 32-35) and two works on paper (Lots 211, 212, Auction 1248, 5 June 2024), selected works from one of the most important and extensive collections of the Franco-German artist - the Schneppenheim Collection - are being offered for sale. The initiator of this collection was the Cologne physician Dr Peter Schneppenheim (1926-2021), who had collected the works over decades on the national and international art market. The collector's persistent and constructive commitment also led to the founding of the Max Ernst Museum in his hometown of Brühl in 2005. His extensive collection of graphic works, illustrated books and select paintings formed the basis of this unique artists' museum.
For almost two decades, Peter Schneppenheim was head physician at the Heilig-Geist Hospital in Cologne-Longerich. He found balance and fulfilment in both music and art, particularly in the works of the painter, graphic artist and sculptor Max Ernst, who was born in Brühl in 1891 and whose work he had often encountered there and in Cologne. One of the first works that he had consciously noticed, and which immediately made him smile, was the collage ‘C'est le chapeau qui fait l'homme’ from 1920. However, the key experience for the acquisition of his works was the first renowned German retrospective in 1951 at Augustusburg Castle in Brühl. Schneppenheim was immediately fascinated by the variety of pictorial themes and techniques: "In my enthusiasm for the unusual, previously unseen works of art, probably also euphorically inspired after having just passed my state examination, I had the idea of acquiring paintings by this artist myself - initially a daring pipe dream on the salary of a young medical assistant, until I had enough for my first works on paper." (quoted from: Max Ernst. Graphische Welten, exhib. cat. Brühl 2004, p. 10).
Schneppenheim's initial enthusiasm for Max Ernst never waned - on the contrary, his increasing interest in the artist's life and work, in his innovative pictorial techniques and literary horizons, led over time to systematic acquisitions with the aim of covering his graphic oeuvre as completely as possible. The purchase of predominantly graphic works was - at least initially - a conscious decision. From the outset, Schneppenheim demonstrated an impressive eye for quality and uniqueness and selected Ernst's primary works on paper. For the first time, in 1968, he also decided to purchase an oil painting and acquired the landscape ‘Les antipodes du paysage’ – now to be offered for sale – (Lot 34) through the renowned gallery owner Fritz Valentien in Stuttgart, who specialised in Max Ernst. This painting is also significant because it formed the starting point for the collection's thematic focus on landscapes.
A special event in the 1970s was Schneppenheim's personal meeting with Max Ernst and his wife Dorothea Tanning on the occasion of a Rhine trip in 1971, which the Cologne gallery owners Hein and Eva Stünke had organised for the artist and his clients. By the time of Max Ernst's death on 1st April 1976, the collection had been expanded with substantial works.
A highlight for Schneppenheim was the first public exhibition of his collection in 1990 at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. In 2001, the Kreissparkasse Köln acquired the graphic holdings of the collection, which became part of the ‘Max Ernst Foundation’. Four years later, a "lifelong dream" came true for the collector with the opening of the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl.

Les antipodes du paysage (Die Antipoden der Landschaft)

The first and most important painting from the Schneppenheim Collection, which further elaborates upon the fantastic theme of the Antipodes series

Max Ernst began to occupy himself with the topos of the Antipodes in 1936, with a small series of works entitled “Aux antipodes du paysage” (Spies/Metken 2255-2258). The paintings from this series depict inhospitable rocky landscapes that lie beneath a sky illuminated by a yellowish light and feature foregrounds populated by isolated human figures or enigmatic hybrid creatures. These mysterious images are based on the mythical notion of the so-called Antipodeans, people living on the unexplored lower or opposite side of the globe – an idea that was heatedly debated from antiquity to the early modern period. Max Ernst assimilated this antiquated notion into his art, and this series of works speculates about what that hidden and, for us, nearly uninhabitable anti-world might look like – fantasy as the antipode of reality.
In 1954 Ernst returned to the theme with his “Les antipodes du paysage”. In 1968 this would become the first oil painting to make its way into the Schneppenheim Collection. In this work the artist has depicted his subject matter in a markedly freer and more abstract manner than he had twenty years before, and his use of the grattage and decalcomania techniques he had personally developed in the 1920s are decisive.
A glowing red and deep black define the painting and stir associations with lava and hot coals. A black plane rises above the rockily jagged ground of the lower quarter of the picture: six enigmatic, organic objects appear to hover in front of it and emit their own light. The crusty, many-layered form of the three red manifestations in the middle makes them reminiscent of deep-sea organisms. The three other objects made up of delicate red lines and shimmering green shapes produce the impression of ephemeral light effects with their elliptical forms. In this painting, Max Ernst has created a scene of magical depth and luminosity, one that could be placed in the context of the eternal darkness of the deep sea just as easily as the cosmic phenomena of the night sky.

Catalogue Raisonné

Spies/Metken 3055


Galerie Valentien, Stuttgart; Dr. Peter Schneppenheim Collection, Cologne; On permanent loan to the Max-Ernst-Museum Brühl until the beginning of 2024


Gemälde, Graphik, Plastik, Katalog Nr. 1, Galerie Valentien, Stuttgart 1968, col. ill. p. 23


Stuttgart 1968 (Antiquariatsmesse, Gustav Siegle-Haus); Mülheim 1969 (Städtisches Museum, Schloss Styrum), Max Ernst. Farbige Zeichnungen, Frottagen und Graphik, cat. no. 1; Brühl 2013 (Max Ernst Museum des LVR), Das 20. Jahrhundert - Werke von Max Ernst aus der Schneppenheim-Stiftung, p. 80/81 with col. ill. p. 166 f.