Max Ernst The Blind Swimmer (Nageur aveugle) 1934

  • Not on view

The mysterious imagery of this painting recalls Ernst’s interest in exploiting the visual language of science (and specifically biology and geology) in his Dada overpaintings and collages of the late 1910s and 1920s. Although a specific source image has not been identified, the impression is of a highly magnified cross section of some sort of plant ovary or botanical specimen, writ large and translated into oil on canvas. The precision of Ernst’s lines, some in graphite pencil, contrast with his soft blending of pigments, which surround the elliptically erotic central motif with a luminous glow.

Gallery label from Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, September 23, 2017-January 1, 2018.
Oil and graphite on canvas
36 3/8 x 29" (92.3 x 73.5 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Pierre Matisse and the Helena Rubenstein Fund
Object number
© 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Painting and Sculpture

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Provenance Research Project

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The artist
Art of This Century Gallery, New York
Mrs. Patricia Kane Matisse, New York
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired from Mrs. Pierre Matisse, New York. Gift and purchase, 1968

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