To make this work, Ernst started with a wallpaper fragment, probably taken from a wall in his home. He added gouache in clever angles at the bottom, transforming the wallpaper’s repeating pattern into an apparently threedimensional forest. To further heighten the tension between flatness and depth, he placed a blue sun-like gear behind the printed stripes at the top, as if floating in the distance, and a blue stream flowing toward us at the bottom. In his nonsensical Dada title, Ernst plays with the notion of an eye—the organ that controls vision and reveals emotion—being mechanized like a clock: tic tac.
Gallery label from Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, September 23, 2017-January 1, 2018.