Ernst applied thick plaster to the burlap support of The Sea, creating an exceptionally textured, uneven surface. He sprayed thinned pigment over the dried plaster with an atomizer, producing a quasi-photographic effect that evokes rocky terrain, which he left visible only in the upper half of the circle in the center. He covered the rest of the plaster with black paint, into which he incised an outline for the circle and a series of parallel intersecting lines. As a result, a glowing moon emerges from a darkened sea, with the vibrant bands of color suggesting illuminated waves. The subject reflects the artist’s abiding interest in nature and cosmology.
Gallery label from Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, September 23, 2017-January 1, 2018.