Katharina Ondulata
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2004

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Katharina Ondulata 1920
Made while Ernst was the leader of the Cologne Dada group, this painting on printed paper is inspired by the Dada spirit of anarchy and confusion. It contains cosmic imagery (star constellations can be seen in the sky), and also alludes to the battle of the sexes. Both of these themes interested the Surrealists, who formed their group directly after Dada had disbanded. The full title of this piece is written along the bottom margin and refers to the 'mistress of the inn,' who would appear to be represented by the revolving sun on the left. The male is represented by a stick-like mannequin: his fuse is alight, ready to trigger his sexual desires.

Glossary Open

Anarchy

A political philosophy opposed to the rule of law and the state. Some anarchists advocate their replacement by voluntary associations while others advocate violence to overthrow them. The word is used generally to describe a state of lawlessness.

Dada

A radical artistic and literary movement that was a reaction against the cultural climate that supported the First World War. The Dadaists took an anti-establishment attitude, questioning art's status and favouring performance and collage over traditional art techniques. Many Dadaists went on to become involved with Surrealism.

Surrealism

A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Anarchy, Dada, Surrealism

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 3885
  • Medium Gouache, pencil and ink on printed paper
  • Size 31.50 x 27.50 cm
  • Credit Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Purchased with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund 1995