Fishbone Forest, Max Ernst
Max Ernst
Fishbone Forest
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Max Ernst

Fishbone Forest, 1927

45.5 x 37.5 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
Acquired in 2019 as a bequest from Ulrike Crespo from the Karl Ströher Collection
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 7


About the Work

Max Ernst, one of the co-founders of Surrealism, elevated chance to the status of an artistic device. Objects found in everyday life and nature became the raw material of his art. With the aid of rubbing and impression techniques, he created abstract forms. For ‘Fishbone Forest’, he cut forms out of tin. After applying oil paint to a canvas and coating the tin shapes with black paint, he pressed them onto the still-damp canvas over and over again. Then he used a shade of ochre to highlight the fishbone-like forms that came about as a result. Finally, he added a red disc reminiscent of the sun, lending the composition depth. The overall impression is of an eery, threatening forest—one of the artist’s leitmotifs.

About the Acquisition

The Städel Museum has the photographer, psychotherapist, philanthropist, and long-time Frankfurt resident Ulrike Crespo (1950–2019) to thank for more than ninety works ranging from classical modernism to American pop art. The paintings, drawings, and prints by Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Dix, Oskar Schlemmer, Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, and others originally belonged to the holdings of her grandfather, the Darmstadt-based industrialist Karl Ströher (1890–1977), who amassed an extensive art collection after World War II.

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