MoMA
Max Ernst

The Gramineous Bicycle Garnished with Bells the Dappled Fire Damps and the Echinoderms Bending the Spine to Look for Caresses

(c. 1921)
Not on view
Medium
Gouache, ink, and pencil on printed paper on paperboard
Dimensions
29 1/4 x 39 1/4" (74.3 x 99.7 cm)
Credit
Purchase
Object number
279.1937
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Ernst was fascinated with microscopic images, which were first broadly distributed in the early twentieth century. Here, he created an overpainting on the ambitious scale of traditional oil painting by using a commercially available teaching chart. Ernst inverted the underlying diagram probably illustrating mitosis in the cells of a gramineous (grassy plant) specimen, and painted in a black ground. He combined these animated organic forms with what appear to be machine parts, while the inscription "The gramineous bicycle garnished with bells the dappled fire damps and the echinoderms bending the spine to look for caresses" lends amusing sexual connotations to the hairs, orifices, and protrusions of these microorganisms.

Gallery label from Dada, June 18–September 11, 2006
Provenance information
Tristan Tzara, Paris. Acquired from the artist
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Tristan Tzara, 1937

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, N.Y. 10019

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource