The German painter Max Ernst may not be the most famous of the avant-garde artists of the 20th century. But without a doubt he is one of the most restless spirits of that moment and due to his extraordinary evolution he is one of the most influential among the last generations of plastic and image creators.
For Max Ernst any artistic convention was worthy of being attacked, and of course religious art was also criticized by him. Of which we see here a fabulous example, since it is supposed to be inspired by the famous works of the Piedad where the Virgin Mary holds in her arms the body of Jesus, her son, who has died, with the famous Renaissance work of Michelangelo as its maximum exponent.
La Pieta by Max Ernst
On the other hand, here he shows us an image that can even be considered irreverent. After all, what he wanted to do was question all sanctity, including that of art itself, for which he set out to create non-representative works that did not have a clear story.
In the case of this painting he still resorts to figuration and identifiable elements. Although his interpretation remains open. Something that will become even more pronounced over time, since Max Ernst, within his initial surrealist approaches, in reality what he is going to do is reformulate the processes and means of creation.
A sample is when he became interested in the imagesand forms created by the mentally ill. Something in which he sees creativity without any hindrance, in which everything starts from an emotion of a primitive nature. That will quickly lead him to become interested in representing what springs from his subconscious.
There opened up a range of incredible possibilities. She wanted to explore his mind looking for a universal unconscious, where common images appeared, as is the case with this theme of thePietá. But from there he sought to go further, to get to his own traumas and his most basic emotions, something that he turned into collages and paintings that looked like collages, as in this case.
Later on, automatic painting would arrive, linking him to other surrealist artists such as Giorgio de Chirico. Although Max Ernst undertook quite different paths. A process where he resorted to dreams, automatisms, hypnosis and also the consumption of hallucinogens.
Fruit of all this and constant experimentation is the emergence of various creative techniques. One was the frottagge, with which he dedicated himself to making pencil rubs on various materials, from cloth or wood to leaves. But still more innovations would come, such as grattage or oscillation painting, very influential in Abstract Expressionism. In fact, until his death in 1976, he never stopped experimenting and being at the forefront, even beyond it.