Max Ernst (1891-1976): The Fireside Angel (The Triumph of3/12/2021, 10:34:47 AM
Max Ernst (1891-1976): The Fireside Angel (The Triumph of Surrealism), 1937, Oil on canvas, 114 cm x 146 cm, Private collection This is one of the rare paintings by Max Ernst which refer directly to a political incident. He commented on this: “The Fireside Angel is a picture I painted after the defeat of the Republicans in Spain. This is, of course, an ironical title for a kind of clumsy oaf which destroys everything that gets in the way. That was my impression in those days of the things that might happen in the world. And I was right.” Ernst strove to create a painting suggestive of the ensuing chaos he feared was spreading across Europe, and emanating from his native Germany. Revisiting the benign and misleading title, it was Ernst's play to attract viewers with pleasing words, and then shock them into questioning their own beliefs by labeling monsters as angels. The Fireside Angel is depicted as an avenging character from the Bible. Its destructive potential is stressed by its aggressive coloring. In the figure of the angel, blind traumatizing force is expressed, against which mankind is defenseless. Since there is no hope for negotiations with an inhuman force, the blind aggressor seems even more frightening. This fantastical creature, with arms and legs extended, appears to be leaping with a garish, yet joyous, expression on its face. The figures and its appendages are oddly colored and malformed. Further, its leg seems to be spawning another being, as if a cancerous growth spreading.