new-york

Max Ernst, Sambesiland, 1921, photographic enlargement of photomontage with ink mounted on paperboard, 6 13/16 x 9 1/8".

Max Ernst

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Max Ernst, Sambesiland, 1921, photographic enlargement of photomontage with ink mounted on paperboard, 6 13/16 x 9 1/8".


Locating and mapping the human unconscious was a primary plotline within the braided narratives of modernism, and it fell to the Surrealist painters to represent the inchoate structures and unverbalized agendas of this newly explored dark continent. The texture of the twentieth century is fading in our memory, as the talking cure listens to Prozac and the end of history scrambles not to become the history of the end—but the fortuitously timed Max Ernst retrospective reminded us that conditions of epic urgency surround us and that art is allowed to claim them as its contextual domain.

If being born German at the turn of the past century meant conscription into the wrong side of a multigenerational bad trip, it also meant sharing in the German-speaking world’s response to modernity, which would eventually connect Dada, V-2 rockets, and the discovery of LSD. Ernst’s peripatetic

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the September 2005 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.