Max Ernst Natural History (Histoire naturelle) c. 1925, published 1926

  • Not on view

Ernst created these images by placing paper atop various materials—wood floorboards, lengths of twine, leaves, wire mesh, crumpled paper, crusts of bread—and rubbing the surface with a pencil or crayon. Inspired by the resulting textures, he added details to transform them into fantastical landscapes, objects, and creatures. Ernst called his process frottage (French for “rubbing”) and claimed it as a form of Surrealist automatism, whereby an artist attempts to let the unconscious guide his hand in the creation of an image.

Gallery label from 2017.
introduction by Jean (Hans) Arp
Portfolio of thirty-four collotypes after frottage
composition (orientation varies, each approx.): 10 1/4 × 16 3/4" (26 × 42.5 cm) or 16 3/4 × 10 1/4" (42.5 × 26 cm); sheet (orientation varies, each approx.): 19 5/8 × 12 11/16" (49.8 × 32.3 cm) or 12 11/16 × 19 5/8" (32.3 × 49.8 cm)
Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris
Gift of James Thrall Soby
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
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