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Max Ernst

L’oeil du silence (The Eye of Silence)

1943–44

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A leading figure of the European avant-garde after World War I, the German Dada and Surrealist artist Max Ernst painted this hallucinatory landscape while in exile in the United States during World War II. Ernst incorporated into the composition of his artworks elements of chance to liberate the unconscious. In this work he used the technique of decalcomania, in which a layer of paint is applied to a smooth surface, such as a piece of glass, and then transferred onto another surface. Here the impression onto canvas left arbitrary patterns and textures, some of which Ernst reworked to resemble exotic land formations, plants, architectural fragments, and the uncanny “eyes of silence” referenced in the title. Together these elements evoke a Europe in ruins and the artist’s own experiences of violence, internment, and dislocation. [Permanent collection label, 2019]

  • Artist Max Ernst (German, 1891–1976)
  • Title L’oeil du silence (The Eye of Silence)
  • Date 1943–44
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions unframed | 43 1/4 x 56 1/4 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, Kende Sale Fund, 1946
  • Object number WU 3786
  • Currently on View Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery, Room 4

Artists in Exile: European Surrealists in the US during and after World War II
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/01/2023

Short-term loans for display in galleries
Saint Louis Art Museum, 06/06/2018 - 08/04/2019

Face and Figure in European Art, 1928–1945
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/25/2013 - 04/21/2013

Dreamscapes
Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (St. Louis, Missouri), 02/11/2011 - 08/13/2011

Chance Aesthetics
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/18/2009 - 01/04/2010

Dream and Revolution
Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden), 09/20/2008 - 01/11/2009
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebaek, Denmark), 02/07/2009 - 06/01/2009

Picasso to Pollock: H.W. Janson and the Legacy of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis
Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, Texas), 08/17/2004 - 10/24/2004

Collecting Patterns
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/05/2003 - 12/07/2003

H. W. Janson and the Legacy of Modern Art at Washington University in St. Louis
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 08/30/2002 - 12/08/2002
Salander-O’Reilly Galleries (New York, New York), 03/12/2002 - 04/06/2002

Caught By Politics: Art of the 1930s and 1940s
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/19/2001 - 03/18/2001

Max Ernst—The Retrospective
delete - Haus der Kunst (Munich, Germany), , 06/11/1999 - 09/12/1999
Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin, Germany), 03/05/1999 - 05/30/1999

Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/12/1998 - 04/05/1998

Exiles and Emigrés
Neue Nationalgalerie, 10/09/1997 - 01/04/1998
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 02/23/1997 - 05/11/1997
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, 06/19/1997 - 09/07/1997

The Dual Muse: The Writer as Artist; the Artist as Writer
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 11/07/1997 - 12/21/1997

A Gallery of Modern Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 08/09/1994 - 10/16/1994

Cubists, Surrealists, and Expressionists
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1983 - 09/04/1983

Capsule of Modern Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/09/1983 - 03/06/1983

The Centennial Exhibition
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/15/1981 - 10/11/1981

Cubist, Expressionist, and Surrealist Paintings and Sculptures
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/20/1980 - 11/02/1980

Portraits and Landscapes
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 06/01/1978 - 08/31/1978

Max Ernst Retrospective
Réunion des musées nationaux―Grand Palais (Paris, France), 05/15/1975 - 08/31/1975
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 02/14/1975 - 04/20/1975

20th Century Masterworks from St. Louis Collections
Saint Louis Art Museum, 12/01/1973 - 02/03/1974

Washington University Collection of Modern Paintings and Sculpture from Daumier to Pollock
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 04/06/1966 - 05/08/1966

Constant Companions
University of St. Thomas (Houston, Texas), 10/05/1964 - 12/31/1964

Max Ernst
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 03/01/1961 - 05/07/1961
Art Institute of Chicago, 06/16/1961 - 07/23/1961

Max Ernst Retrospective
Tate Britain, 09/04/1961 - 10/15/1961

Opening Exhibition of Mark C. Steinberg Memorial Hall
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 04/29/1960

XXVII Biennale di Venezia
Venue Unknown (Venice, Italy)

An Exhibition of Contemporary Art
Fine Arts Center Gallery, University of Arkansas, 04/15/1951 - 05/15/1951

17th Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Painting
The Cleveland Museum of Art, 01/11/1946 - 02/17/1946

European Artists in America
Whitney Museum of American Art, 03/13/1945 - 04/11/1945

Painting in the United States
Carnegie Museum of Art, 10/12/1944 - 12/10/1944

2/1946
Julien Levy Gallery, New York

Inscription [LR:] Max Ernst [in black paint on reverse of fabric in UL:] l’oeil du silense / the eye of silence / N.Y. max ernst 1943-44

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