Art Term


Grattage is a surrealist painting technique that involves laying a canvas prepared with a layer of oil paint over a textured object and then scraping the paint off to create an interesting and unexpected surface

The technique was invented by surrealist artist Max Ernst. Having prepared a canvas using grattage, Ernst would then work back into the painting, responding to the unexpected marks and shapes created by the texture. In Ernst’s Forest and Dove the trees appear to have been created by scraping over the backbone of a fish.

Grattage, a French word which translates as ‘scraping’, was developed from another similar technique used by Ernst called frottage.

  • Surrealism

    A twentieth-century literary, philosophical and artistic movement that explored the workings of the mind, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary

  • Automatism

    In art, automatism refers to creating art without conscious thought, accessing material from the unconscious mind as part of the creative process

  • Frottage

    Frottage is a surrealist and ‘automatic’ method of creative production that involves creating a rubbing of a textured surface using a pencil or other drawing material