A tangle of dark, fluid forms appear to dance on black land in this oil painting by Max Ernst. The blob-like forms, which have loosely defined limbs and random shocks of hair or fur, are painted in blacks and browns, with orange and gold highlights. Backed by a clear blue sky, they huddle in a dome-shaped cluster that largely fills the top two-thirds of the canvas. In place of faces, the forms have gaps and holes in their heads that let the sky behind them shine through. The writhing forms blend together, making it difficult to identify where one begins and another ends. Or perhaps the form is, in fact, one large knot of shifting limbs and morphing torsos. The forms rise, or grow, out of a black expanse that blankets the bottom third of the painting.
Max Ernst
La famille nombreuse (The Numerous Family), 1927

Artwork Info

Artwork title
La famille nombreuse (The Numerous Family)
Artist name
Max Ernst
Date created
oil on canvas
32 1/8 in. x 25 5/8 in. (81.61 cm x 65.1 cm)
Date Acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Peggy Guggenheim
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Permanent URL
Artwork Status
On view on floor 2 as part of Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture, 1900 to Now.

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