F99-33/6 | Modern Art

Sculpture - French


Max Ernst , French , 1891-1976 , b. Germany
Capricorn, 1948

Bronze
7 feet 11 1/2 inches x 6 feet 10 inches x 4 feet 7 1/4 inches (242.57 x 208.28 x 140.34 cm)

Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, acquired from the Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection

Gallery Location: Bloch Lobby

Gallery Label

Gallery Label
Max Ernst French, born Germany, 1891-1976

Capricorn, 1948; cast 1963-1964 Bronze

Capricorn is an inventive portrait of Max Ernst and his wife, fellow Surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning. On another level, it expresses the duality of male and female.

For the Surrealists, as for the Greeks, the minotaur (half man/half bull) symbolized the battle between rational mind and aggressive instinct. This minotaur figure was probably inspired by a Katsina-a Zuni spirit sculpture-that was owned by Ernst. A mermaid and a dog, with pipe eyes and trowel tongue, rest next to him. The mermaid is also a hybrid. Part woman and part fish, she lives in the sea, a symbol of the feminine unconscious.

Tanning named Capricorn after a constellation. The title hints at astrology, the study of the influence of celestial events upon the lives of humans.

Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, acquired from the Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection F99-33/6

Gallery Label
Max Ernst French, born Germany, 1891-1976

Capricorn, 1948; cast 1963-1964 Bronze

Capricorn is a group of highly imaginative figures made up of unrelated motifs. On one level it is a self-portrait of Max Ernst and his wife, Dorothea Tanning, and on another, it represents the fundamental duality of male and female.

The male figure was probably inspired by a horned Kachina-sculpture made by the Hopi and Navaho-that was one of many owned by the artist. The mysterious sea-nymph in Capricorn has conical breast and a violin-like torso. The aquatic origin of the long-necked figure is reiterated by the fish at the back of the mermaid's head.

Capricorn was named by Tanning, after a constellation in the zodiac. The title hints of the ancient practice of astrology, the relationship between planetary bodies and people, and the origins of humankind.

Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, acquired from the Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection F99-33/6

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