Max Ernst (French, born Germany, 1891–1976)
Oil on canvas
32 x 25 3/4 in. (81.3 x 65.4 cm)
The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, 2006 (2006.32.15)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Ernst met the poet Paul Éluard and his Russian wife, Gala, in Cologne in 1921. Their visit began a lifelong friendship between the men and initiated a sudden passion between Ernst and Gala. In 1922, Ernst moved to Paris, where he lived with the Éluards until 1924. By then he had become one of the founding members of Surrealism. At the end of his affair with Gala, Ernst evoked the eyes of the Russian siren in this painting, which he based on a photograph by Man Ray. The top of her head peels away and scrolls forward like a poster from a wall.