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Image of Max Ernst, 1946 11514



Frederick Sommer


Max Ernst, 1946

Creation Date



20th century


7 1/2 in. x 9 1/2 in. (19 cm. x 24.2 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, American

Medium and Support

gelatin silver print

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Gridley W. Tarbell II Fund


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

In Frederick Sommer’s portrait of the surrealist painter Max Ernst, the subject both emerges from and is fused with the textured background, in ways that recall some of Ernst’s own techniques, such as collage and frottage (a rubbing over a textured surface). Sommer achieved this effect through the simultaneous printing of two different negatives: one, a portrait of Ernst in front of a weathered wood cabin; the other, a picture of a stained and corroded concrete wall. Sommer had been dissatisfied with each image individually and had forgotten them. When he by chance picked up the two negatives together, this iconic portrait emerged. Born in Italy and raised in Brazil, Sommer settled in Arizona in 1935 to soothe his tuberculosis. He and his wife became close with Ernst when he and fellow surrealist painter Dorothea Tanning moved there in 1946.

Keywords: portraits  

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