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

Fleurs sur fond vert

Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Fleurs sur fond vert
signed twice 'max ernst' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in. (65.1 x 81 cm.)
Painted in 1928
Galerie Le Centaure, Brussels.
Anonymous sale, Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels, 11 December 1954, lot 113.
Margaret Krebs, Brussels.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 2 May 1974, lot 242.
Anonymous sale, Villa Grisebach, Berlin, 23 November 1990, lot 60. Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 9 December 1997, lot 247.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 4 February 2002, lot 69.
Acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent to the present owners.
Das Kunstblatt, 1929, no. 13, p. 356 (illustrated; titled Schatten und Blumen).
U. Schneede, Max Ernst, Stuttgart, 1972, no. 186 (illustrated p. 102).
W. Spies, S. & G. Metken, Max Ernst, Werke 1925-1929, vol. III, Cologne, 1976, no. 1337, p. 280 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Georges Bernheim, Max Ernst, Ses Oiseaux, Ses Fleurs Nouvelles, Ses Forêts Volantes, Ses Malédictions, Son Satanas, December 1928, no. 6.
Berlin, Galerie Flechtheim, Max Ernst, March 1929, no. 32; this exhibition later travelled to Dusseldorf, Galerie Flechtheim.
Berlin, Reckendorfhaus, 50 ausgewählte Werke heutiger Kunst, 1929.
Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Max Ernst. Gemälde, Plastiken, Collagen, Frottagen, Bücher, January - March 1970, no. 39.
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.


Adrienne Everwijn-Dumas
Adrienne Everwijn-Dumas


Painted in 1928, Fleurs sur fond vert belongs to a series of coquillages paintings Max Ernst executed in the late 1920s. Stimulated by the ideas espoused by the Surrealists and continuing his exploitation of chance dating back to his involvement in Dada, in works such as Fleurs sur fond vert Ernst sought a way to prompt his unconscious mind through the deliberate creation of evocative patterns. Applying paint with a knife, Ernst created an intricate, weave-like texture, which let these hermetic creatures surface on the canvas, caught in between the mineral and the animal world. Nature was always important in Ernst's art, but where in other works he had used natural objects - wood, leaves, sand and so forth - as prompts, in Fleurs sur fond vert Nature is the subject, portrayed through the chance-dictated application of the paint. By consciously controlling the creative process, yet letting his unconscious interpret the pattern created by chance, Ernst provided Surrealist painting with a new, exciting alternative to automatic drawing.

Exploring the tension between the conscious and the unconscious, Fleurs sur fond vert is reminiscent of the works of the Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy. In his art, Tanguy sought to render a world beyond perceived reality, strange yet somehow recognisable, arranging odd biomorphic shapes onto a bare landscape. With its strange, impossible landscape and the scattered, unidentifiable objects, Fleurs sur fond vert creates an environment close to that of Tanguy's works. Whereas most of Ernst's coquillages are cluttered with groups of shells dominating the composition, Fleurs sur fond vert deliberately exploits a sparse, desolate background, emphasising the alien, yet suggestive nature of these unusual objects.