A strange creature with a gaping mouth and upstretched arms stares round-eyed at the visitor.
This bronze was created in the 1960s by the artist Max Ernst.
If you take a closer look at the figure, you can identify the found objects from which it was assembled.
The long arms come from the beam of a yoke used for oxen. A slab of wood serves as the body. On this plank, Max Ernst mounted a piece of railway hardware: a track fastener which forms the figure's face.
But even identifying the individual found objects doesn’t tell us anything about the figure’s meaning.
Max Ernst incorporates everyday equipment and tools in his work. He takes his cue from their shapes and textures, and puts the objects back together in a new way, guided solely by his own fancy. Dreams, imagination and his own childhood memories are essential tools of his artistic creation.
Max Ernst was one of the co-founders of Surrealism. The Surrealists came together in Paris in the 1920s. Their ambition was to rebel against bourgeois society and to counter the rational order by introducing the irrational, the intuitive and the contradictory. Max Ernst once described his stance as follows:
"What we were looking for at the time was not a representation of reality, not an interpretation of reality, but an experience, an adventure that lay between us and reality. "
In his paintings and sculptures, Max Ernst created a world brimming with fantastic forms of existence; their poetic magic lies in their ambiguity. Even the title of this sculpture poses a riddle:
Un microbe vu à travers un tempérament – A microbe seen through a temperament. It’s a play on words based on a quotation from the writer Emile Zola. The original states: A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.
The world of the microbe is invisible to the human eye. Here, we’re looking through the artist's imaginary microscope and glimpsing the Surrealists’ poetic reality.
Max Ernst became the second artist to win the award when he received the Kaiserring in 1976.
Foto 1,2: © Mönchehaus Museum Goslar
Foto 3: © Portrait Max Ernst mit „Microbe“: Foto: Karlheinz Bauer