Max Ernst Stratified Rocks, Nature's Gift of Gneiss Lava Iceland Moss 2 kinds of lungwort 2 kinds of ruptures of the perinaeum growths of the heart b) the same thing in a well-polished little box somewhat more expensive (schichtgestein naturgabe aus gneis lava isländisch moos 2 sorten lungenkraut 2 sorten dammriss/herzgewächse b) dasselbe in fein poliertem kästchen etwas teurer) 1920

  • Not on view

The source for this overpainting is an equine anatomical diagram from a teaching-aids supply catalogue (the Bibliotheca Paedagogica, 1914), which the artist turned upside down. Ernst’s inscription reads: "Stratified rocks, nature’s gift of gneiss lava Icelandic moss 2 kinds of lungwort 2 kinds of ruptures of the perinaeum growths of the heart b) the same thing in a well-polished little box somewhat more expensive."

Gallery label from Dada, June 18–September 11, 2006.
Additional text

The source for this overpainting is a color lithograph showing the anatomy of a horse from the Bibliotheca Paedagogica (1914), a teaching-aids supply catalogue. Ernst inverted this image and added gouache and pencil to transform the horse’s innards into a geological cross section. The punning, nonsensical text handwritten on the secondary support offers several interpretive clues, like “stratified rocks” and “gneiss lava Iceland moss,” which suggest that this is a landscape. The artist later wrote of the Bibliotheca that “the sheer absurdity of the collection provoked a sudden intensification of the visionary faculties in me.”

Gallery label from Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, September 23, 2017-January 1, 2018.
Gouache and pencil on printed paper on cardstock
7 1/2 x 9 1/2" (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
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[Hans Arp]
Tristan Tzara, Paris
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Tristan Tzara, 1937

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