Max Ernst
Celebes 1921

Artwork details

Max Ernst 1891–1976
Date 1921
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1254 x 1079 mm
frame: 1397 x 1210 x 102 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1975

Display caption

The central rotund shape in this painting derives from a photograph of a Sudanese corn-bin, which Ernst has transformed into a sinister mechanical monster. Ernst often re-used found images, and either added or removed elements in order to create new realities, all the more disturbing for being drawn from the known world. The work's title comes from a childish German rhyme that begins: 'The elephant from Celebes has sticky, yellow bottom grease¿' The painting's inexplicable juxtapositions, such as the enigmatic headless female figure and the elephant-like creature, suggest the imagery of a dream and the Freudian technique of free association.

September 2004