Ubu Imperator Max Ernst Buy Art Prints Now
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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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Max Ernst was a critical figure the Cologne Dada anarchic circles just before he chose to move to Paris where he played a pivotal role in the Surrealist movement. This painting highly resembles a collage but in painting form. He made use of extreme wit and his familiarity with myth in his painting technoques, which is highly reflected in Ubu Imperator.

The painting is depicts an anthropomorphic figure, which is seemingly dancing in a landscape that is empty and vast. The seminal work also goes ahead to depict a red carcass having some sort of iron reinforcement together with human hands. When you compare the canvas Max used on this painting with his other works, you will find that this painting is relatively smaller with the centre being the dominating area of the composition. The tower in the foreground is precariously balanced in such a way that it seems it was spinning but it has been halted. This style of painting was especially used by earlier artists to portray a notion of commitment to the subconscious and estrangement in surrealism but at the same time they were able to make their paintings contemporary.

Max was able to achieve some sort of stability in the painting by placing the seemingly unstable base with a relatively stable architecture of the top to be in internal conflict. The term Ubu Imperator loosely translates as Commander but Max contrasts this meaning with a figure that seems to lack some element of stability thus it is not a commanding figure in both life and art. His brushworks in the painting enabled him to create an art piece that managed to radiate a commanding presence that is seemingly beyond its scale.

Over his career, Max Ersnt was able to learn and get inspired by a number of great artists in history who were a key source of inspiration throughout his career. Some of the noteworthy names that played a significant role in shaping Max Ernst’s career include Vincent van Gogh, Marcel Duchamp, Caspar David Friedrich, Giorgio de Chirico and August Macke. Art movements like Dada and Surrealism also played a critical role in his career. Such influences made him a notable name in the history of art, which directly influenced artists like Sigmar Polke, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Cindy Sherman among other artists and influenced movements like Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism too.