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Vogue like a painting

From 30 June to 12 October 2015

Early booking is recommended

Peter Lindbergh
One enchanted evening, Taormina, Sicilia (detail)

Zurbarán. A New Perspective

From 9 June to 13 September 2015

Extended summer hours

Francisco de Zurbarán
Saint Serapion, 1628
Oil on canvas, 120.2 x 104 cm
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, CT.
The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Max Ernst
Oil on canvas
19 x 24 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 536 (1968.8)

More information about this work

The present Flower-Shell belongs to a set of canvases on the same theme executed between 1927 and 1929, when Max Ernst was at the height of his recognition as one of the leading Surrealist artists. This strange specimen, which is non-existent in nature and springs from the painter’s imagination, recalls a few examples of the frottages featured in Ernst’s Histoire naturelle, which relate to his Dadaist experiments. In 1927, the year the present work is dated, Ernst had contributed a series of texts to the Surrealist theories including “Beyond painting,” in which he expounded his idea that the artist should free human imagination and described frottage as the “intensification of [his] visionary capabilities.”

For Ernst collage, frottage, grattage and decalcomania were technical devices for liberating the creative powers of the unconscious. In this small canvas he uses grattage, a technique that is similar to frottage but instead of rubbing a pencil over a sheet of paper placed over a rough surface, he scrapes the oil paint with various objects to obtain different textures that blend into the final image.

Paloma Alarcó

© 2009 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paseo del Prado 8, 28014 Madrid, España

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