Max Ernst, grattage, and The horde series
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This thesis investigates Max Ernst’s series of paintings made in 1927 titled The Horde. Most scholarship on Ernst’s experimental art focuses on frottage and collage. While these were important techniques for the Surrealist movement, the grattage technique used for The Horde paintings was essential to Ernst’s personal artistic growth as well as a contribution to the Surrealist search for an ‘automatic’ form of art making. In his quest to understand and make art tapping into the unconscious mind, Ernst drew on a wide variety of sources, including his personal history, German background, literature, animals, geological formations, and monsters. An investigation of these sources expands the possible meanings of The Horde paintings for Ernst, painting up their connections to Germany in the past and present, and their reflection of his deep interest in the archetypal Surrealism theme of metamorphosis. His invention of grattage as a painting technique made such a fusion possible.