La belle allemande (The Beautiful German Woman)

Max Ernst

Brühl, Germany, 1891 - Paris, France, 1976

As a member of the dadaist ranks, Max Ernst began his assemblage-based sculpture using wood and wire, as a response to the crisis in painting that Dadá addressed. Years later, he became fully involved in the surrealist group and began a series of plaster casts, done between 1934 and 1935, which indicated a firmer commitment to sculpting. Ernst’s hope was that his sculpture and his painting would share the element of chance in the development and definition of hybrid, fantastic characters that he had achieved through techniques like frottage. La belle allemande (The Beautiful German Woman), with its totemic and semi-anthropomorphic form indicates a dialogue with both Alberto Giacometti and African sculpture, from a perspective far removed from that which had inspired the cubist sculptors. There is an ironic reference in the title to a classical German renaissance sculpture at the Louvre by Gregor Erhart, also called La belle allemande. Ernst’s sculpture was shown in two major collective exhibitions by the surrealist group as they were going international, the Exposition surréaliste d’objets, at the Charles Ratton Gallery in Paris in 1936, and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, at the MoMA in New York.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio

Max Ernst
Artworks in the Collection