Max Ernst (1891-19): The Robing of the Bride (Attirement of

Max Ernst (1891-19): The Robing of the Bride (Attirement of

3/11/2021, 10:26:19 AM
Max Ernst (1891-19): The Robing of the Bride (Attirement of the Bride), 1940, Oil on canvas, 129.6 x 96.3 cm, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 'The Robing of the Bride' is an example of Max Ernst’s veristic or illusionistic Surrealism, in which a traditional technique is applied to an incongruous or unsettling subject. The theatrical, evocative scene has roots in late nineteenth-century Symbolist painting, especially that of Gustave Moreau. It also employs Renaissance perspective devices and Cranach-like figures to represent a pagan marriage. The title of this work had occurred to Ernst at least as early as 1936, when he italicized it in a text in his book Beyond Painting. Ernst had long identified himself with the bird, and had invented an alter ego, Loplop, Superior of the Birds, in 1929. He told in 1930: "I was visited nearly every day by the Bird Superior, named Loplop, an extraordinary phantom of model fidelity who attached himself to my person. He presented me with a heart in a cage, two petals, three leaves, a flower and a young girl." Thus one may perhaps interpret the bird-man at the left as a depiction of the artist. The "bride" who dons a mantle of red feathers is often understood to represent Ernst's lover, the British surrealist painter Leonora Carrington. The mantle, with its crushed velvet feathery texture, pours off the canvas. The body arcing forward with her long leg walking, small breasts, prominent belly, appears to have a monster's face. Of the bride's real face all we see is an eye peering out of a hole. Above this, staring straight at us, are the eyes of an owl, impenetrable, knowing. The green demonic bird-man serving his new bird-queen holds a broken spear. Her sexual majesty daunts him, as it defeats the gross four-breasted creature weeping on the right. The bride is attended by an enraptured nude with an unreal headdress.

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