Max Ernst (1891-1976)
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Max Ernst (1891-1976)


Max Ernst (1891-1976)
signed 'max ernst' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'max ernst 1943 window' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
20 x 16 in. (51 x 40.8 cm.)
Painted in 1943
The Copley Galleries, Beverly Hills.
Mr and Mrs Albert Lewin, New York; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 20 October 1966, lot 77.
Stephen Hahn Gallery, New York, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Brook Street Gallery, London.
Private collection, London, by whom acquired from the above, sale, Sotheby's, London, 27 june 2001, lot 165.

W. Spies & G. Metken, Max Ernst Werke 1939-1953, Cologne, 1987, no. 2444 (illustrated p.74).
New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Max Ernst, April - May 1944, no. 7.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Fantastic Landscape, 1954-1956 (travelling exhibition).
London, The Mayor Gallery, Max Ernst, April 1959, no. 11.

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Painted in New York in 1942, Window belongs to a small group of highly important paintings made soon after Ernst arrived in the U.S. that culminated in the creation of the artist's large career-dividing masterpiece Vox Angelica. A semi-abstract, semi-figurative, trompe-l'oeil compendium of the multiple approaches and techniques Ernst had brought to his art throughout the past thirty years, Vox Angelica forms the culmination of much of his work up until this point and marks a turning point in the artist's long and varied painterly career. Executed in the same innovative and illusionistic style though on a smaller less all-inclusive and ambitious scale, Window, as its title suggests, is the first of this extraordinary series of 'window-like' retrospective paintings.

Growing out of the 1941-1942 painting Night and Day, which Ernst had begun in Europe and only completed after escaping to the U. S. , Window and the ensuing four paintings entitled Paintings for Young People and Vox Angelica are all works that appear to make one large and cohesive landscape out of a compendium of other Ernst paintings. In Night and Day a sequence of decalcomania landscape paintings actually form part of a wider landscape in the manner of Magritte's 'Human Condition' images where a canvas is shown appearing to represent the exact scene behind it. This playful figurative/abstract/illusionistic approach was taken further by Ernst in Window, Paintings for Young People and Vox Angelica through the depiction of a wall-like field of seemingly framed images or window-like paintings presented as if they are a group of pictures hanging on a collector's wall.

Collectively forming a kind of retrospective group of images illustrating many of the artist's different styles, these paintings seem to assert the validity of the multivalent viewpoint. Window for example, depicts four different nocturnal forest-like images each executed in a different technique. Recalling images of Ernst's past work and representing them in a way that echoes his earlier series of 'Loplop presents...' paintings, this self-referencing, and self-appropriating technique adds a new layer of depth and enigma to Ernst's enduring vision. Created at a time when the battle between Abstraction and Surrealism was at its height in America, a work such as Window seems to dwell in both territories and yet, like so much of Ernst's work, ultimately belong to neither.