Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Clean Slate

3/18: Max Ernst, Europe after the Rain

  One of paragons of the Dada movement, Max Ernst was already an old hand at rejecting war and traditional art in favor of alternative styles of expression.  In this work, Ernst’s antipathy toward fascism and the horrors of World War I are expressed in his depiction of war-ravaged Europe.  He adopted the new and emerging style of Surrealism, which prided itself in surprise and unexpected juxtaposition as well as using the psyche to reveal contradictions in everyday life in order to spur on a revolution.  In this work, he heavily uses a technique called “decalomania”, which involved putting paper or glass on a newly painted surface, and then removing it to create interesting visual effects.  What is seen is that the paper has created an interesting texture, making the landscape almost aquatic and coral-like while also giving it a ruin-like appearance.   The coral-like structures that appear in most of the ground have been altered by the effect, so that now they also appear to be bones and remains of people that have suffered during the war.  The artist has also carefully titled the painting to reflect that the landscape mirrors an area that has recently experienced rain, as well as the metaphorical rain of bombs that devastated the countryside.

More on the Surrealist Movement:

More on Max Ernst and his background:

The reshaping of Europe after World War I:

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