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Mer et soleil [Sea and Sun] Dated 1925

Not on display

Like many Surrealist artists, Ernst was interested in the use of chance and automatism to try and produce new images from his unconscious mind. He often used techniques which created unusual and unplanned paint effects. Here, Ernst has created textured lines on the surface of the painting by dragging a comb through wet paint. The cloud-covered sun is reflected in the sea, which is suggested by combed waves in the lower half of the painting. Ernst painted many seascapes, and this painting is one of a number of works which feature a large circle floating above the horizon. The work was also influenced by alchemical illustrations.

Glossary Open


A painting or drawing process that aims to suppress rational thought, allowing the subconscious to take control. This spontaneous approach is associated with Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.


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.

Automatism, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 1119
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 54.00 x 37.00 cm (framed: 67.50 x 50.20 x 5.80 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1970