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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Kiss by Max Ernst is an oil on canvas painting artwork painted in 1927. The painting has a dimension of 129 x 161.2cm. The erotic composition of the painting is believed to have been inspired by his secret relationship with Marie-Berthe Aurenche in the same year he did the artwork.

Ernest works have a Surrealist approach given that he always had the desire to paint from the sub-conscious. The works of surrealists relied on ideas that are beyond reality as well as their concern in the subconscious mind and in dreams. He was also interested in identifying the origin of his creativity and attempted to paint from his inner psyche freely. The struggle returned his primal emotion and primal traumas of the war back to life which he displayed in his paintings and collages.

A difference in Ernst's works is displayed by how he used a coordinate grid system to transfer string configurations to the canvas in a bid to produce wavy calligraphic rhythms against the earth and the colours of the sky. The image has a pyramidal grouping in the middle, and the embracing gesture of the other figure is comparable to Renaissance artworks of Leonardo da Vinci.

Ernst had no formal training in art but got the interest for art from his father, who was an armature painter. He would later get more inspiration after visiting a Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. The exhibition had works of artist like Pablo Picasso as well as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin who inspired him with their post-impressionist art style. He was also very experimental in art, which enabled him to invent the grattage and frottage techniques.

Ernst's works displayed in museums around the world had an impact in the works of later Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali, and he promoted the growth and acceptance of the Surrealist movement and philosophical thinking. You can find the Kiss by Max Ernst in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice Italy together with the Attirement of the Bride which was also painted by him. Peggy Guggenheims was Max Ernst’s former wife, and the museum was her home for thirty years.