Max Ernst
Men Shall Know Nothing of This 1923

Artwork details

Max Ernst 1891–1976
Men Shall Know Nothing of This
Les Hommes n'en sauront rien
Date 1923
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 803 x 638 mm
frame: 970 x 806 x 62 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1960
Not on display

Display caption

Ernst studied philosophy and psychology in Bonn and was interested in the alternative realities experienced by the insane. This painting may have been inspired by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s study of the delusions of a paranoiac, Daniel Paul Schreber. Freud identified Schreber’s fantasy of becoming a woman as a ‘castration complex’. The central image of two pairs of legs refers to Schreber’s hermaphroditic desires. Ernst’s inscription on the back of the painting reads: ‘The picture is curious because of its symmetry. The two sexes balance one another.’

July 2008

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