Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Elephant Celebes
This is a painting by Max Ernst, 1921, oil on canvas. This is from the surrealist era and is part of the Dada cultural movement. The Dada movement was from 1916-1922 and alot of the art in this period was focused on anti-politics and anti-war. When looking at this painting, I try and find political references. The one that was obvious to me is the orange and yellow gloves that the headless mannequin is wearing and the overlapping of the gloves on the elephant's light black skin tone, which make the complete colors of the German flag. Ernst was a German. The colors of the background suggest a kind of depressing mood. I could not make out what the random objects on top of the elephant were, but the colors are red, blue, orange, and green. This could represent the prominent countries of these colors (France, UK, and Italy, maybe Ireland) and how their fates could rest atop the decision of Germany and their Nazi antics. It was hard to figure out what the elephant represented but I concluded it symbolized Germany and the massive power they held at this time. Ernst disproved of war and this could be his depiction of what Germany was like, hence the disfigured and ugly looking of the elephant. Maybe also the two tails of the elephant could mean that Germany was two-faced. I couldn't understand the coat rack looking thing next to the elephant and how it fit into my political theory of what this painting means. Given the time period of this painting, and the impact of war, I really believe this painting has politcal connotations similar to what I think.