Approaching Puberty or The Pleiads (1921) by Max Ernst

Approaching Puberty or The Pleiads - Ernst, Max - 1921

Artwork Information

TitleApproaching Puberty or The Pleiads
ArtistMax Ernst
MediumGouache and oil on paper, all on cardboard
Dimensions24.5 x 16.5 cm
Current LocationRene Rasmussen Collection, Paris

About Approaching Puberty or The Pleiads

Max Ernst’s 1921 surrealist collage, Approaching Puberty Or The Pleiads, is a portrait of a female figure with levitating objects, including the Pleiades constellation. The artwork is part of Gabriel von Max Collection and measures 24×16 cm. The theme of levitation is central to this work, influenced by Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams.

The female figure in the collage stands before what appears to be an open door or window with a landscape visible outside. She wears a flowing gown that emphasizes her femininity and youthfulness. Ernst uses textured paper and cardboard to create dimensionality within the piece. A series of ellipses diagonally cross her torso highlighting the changes that come along with puberty.

Ernst was skilled in creating works using found objects like old magazines and photographs, which he incorporated in his art by placing them in unusual contexts, as seen in this piece. He also used symbols from astrology extensively during his surrealist period, especially the concept of levitation to illustrate freedom from gender roles that trap people into cultural binary patterns using science fiction-sounding allusions like Pleiades constellation.

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