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Two Max Ernst Paintings Go to Auction, Including One Never Shown Before

Two works by Max Ernst from the collection of his widow, the artist Dorothea Tanning, are going under the hammer.

Max Ernst "Tremblement de terre printanier" (1964), 51 1/8 x 63 3/4 in (130 x 162 cm) US$ 600,000–1,000,000 (all images courtesy Bonhams)
Max Ernst, “Tremblement de terre printanier” (1964), 51 1/8 x 63 3/4 in (130 x 162 cm), presale estimate $600,000–1,000,000 (all images courtesy Bonhams)

Two paintings by the renowned Dada and Surrealist artist Max Ernst will go on sale tomorrow at Bonhams auction house in New York. Once part of the collection of  artist and writer Dorothea Tanning, Ernst’s widow, one of the works has never been exhibited.

“Tremblement de terre printanier” (“Spring Earthquake,” 1964) is a monumental canvas that dates from Ernst’s extremely productive years living with Dorothea Tanning in the South of France, a mysterious and exciting canvas that combines the mystery of his early Dadaist and Surrealist experiments with the scale and all-over impact drawn from his interaction with the Abstract Expressionist artists with whom he worked in New York in the 1940s,” according to William O’Reilly, Director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Bonham’s.

MAX ERNST "Je suis une femme, vous êtes un homme, sommes nous la république" (1960), 24 x 19 3/4 in (61 x 49.7 cm) US$ 400,000–600,000
Max Ernst,”Je suis une femme, vous êtes un homme, sommes nous la république” (1960), 24 x 19 3/4 in (61 x 49.7 cm), pre-sale estimate $400,000–600,000
The back of MAX ERNST "Je suis une femme, vous êtes un homme, sommes nous la république" (1960)
The back of Max Ernst, “Je suis une femme, vous êtes un homme, sommes nous la république” (1960)

The other, “Je suis une femme, vous êtes un homme, sommes nous la république” (“I am a woman, you are a man, are we the republic,” 1960), features Ernst’s alter ego, the bird-man hybrid ‘Loplop,’ in a dark, clotted landscape beneath a shimmering, yellow shell-sun. The painting “has never been exhibited before, and indeed although it is recorded in the catalogue, even its sibylline title was unknown before its reappearance at Bonhams,” O’Reilly told Hyperallergic. “It presents a totemic image of Ernst’s bird/man alter-ego Lop-lop, a symbol of spiritual freedom and his guide to the labyrinthine forest of the unconscious mind.”

The two Max Ernst paintings are featured in Bonhams’s Impressionist and Modern sale in New York on November 16.

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