Max Ernst. Birds above the Forest (Oiseaux au-dessus de la forêt). 1929

Max Ernst

Birds above the Forest (Oiseaux au-dessus de la forêt)


Oil on canvas
31 3/4 x 25 1/4" (80.6 x 64.1 cm)
Katherine S. Dreier Bequest
Object number
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Max Ernst has 235 works  online.
There are 2,383 paintings online.

Ernst began this painting by scraping pigment across the surface with a toothed plasterer’s comb, creating a composition filled with striated patterns. He then applied darker shades of green, blue, and red to this lighter, textured layer. Finally, he added more paint to some areas while removing pigment in others, creating abstract forms evoking birds, butterflies, and trees. The complex structure of Birds above the Forest combines grattage, or scraping, with other nearly indecipherable processes characteristic of Ernst’s experimental approach to painting. Birds and forests feature prominently within Ernst’s personal mythology.

Gallery label from Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, September 23, 2017-January 1, 2018

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist
Katherine S. Dreier (1877-1952), West Redding and Milford, Connecticut. Purchased from the artist
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest, 1953

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