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Max Ernst

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Arizona (photographed)

  • Date:

    1946 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sommer, Frederick (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    photographic paper, photography

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the photographer

  • Museum number:

    E.997-1993

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 989, box B

  • Public access description

    The Surrealist Max Ernst (1891–1976) had a significant influence on Frederick Sommer. They first met in 1941 and became closer when Ernst moved to Arizona in 1946, where Sommer also lived. In his portrait of Ernst, Sommer uses double exposure, combining a photograph of the artist with one of water stains on cement. In doing so, he evokes the Surrealist technique of frottage (rubbing) and transforms an otherwise straightforward portrait into an uncanny homage.

  • Physical description

    Portrait of Max Ernst.

  • Dimensions

    Height: 19 cm, Width: 24 cm

  • Descriptive line

    'Max Ernst', 1946 photograph by Frederick Sommer (1905-1999)

  • Labels and date

    Arizona avant-garde

    These two photographs show Sommer's mastery of photographic technique and his engagement with the ideas and practices of Surrealism.

    Sommer settled in Prescott, Arizona, in 1935. In the same year he travelled to New York to show his drawings to Alfred Stieglitz, the great pioneer of modern photography. This encounter, and the introduction to other artists associated with Stieglitz's gallery, had a decisive impact on Sommer. The following year he also met Edward Weston, whose photographs he greatly admired. Stieglitz and Weston became mentors and encouraged Sommer to pursue his interest in photography.

    Another significant influence was the Surrealist Max Ernst. They first met in 1941 and became closer when Ernst also moved to Arizona in 1946. In his portrait of Ernst, Sommer uses double exposure, combining a photograph of the artist with one of water stains on cement. In doing so, he evokes the Surrealist technique of 'frottage' (rubbing) and transforms an otherwise straightforward portrait into an uncanny homage. []

  • Collection code

    Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection