Max Ernst Female Friendship

I was completely taken in by Une Semaine de Bonte.  Many of the images depict the “destruction” of women by men, the male gaze, and sexuality.  Simultaneously many of his collages depict women corrupting men.  I was struck with the images on pages 97 and 98, both depicting women confiding in one another.  There are less images in Ernst’s collection showing women interacting with other women.  Page 97 shows one aristocratic woman leaning on the shoulder of an older aristocratic woman . The dragon is at their feet.  Three portraits in the background show a woman’s hands, the same image of the young woman leaning on the shoulder of an older woman, and a man shooting a gun.  Initially I thought the collage was meant to advocate female friendships, but the presence of the dragon seems like this is an act of sin.  I’m not sure whether Ernst believe it is an act of sin, or that society does not support female friendships.  The second page, 98, depicts the same two women, only the second is covered by a crocodile-like creature.  The paintings in the background show the flood that occurred earlier and a homo-erotic painting of the two women.  Perhaps Ernst was demonstrating the progression of female friendships to romance, and his disdain for such.

2 Replies to “Max Ernst Female Friendship”

  1. Maddy,

    What an interesting catch! I never noticed the female friendship until you mentioned it.

    Like you, I am a little confused by Ernst’s message in this book. So many of his images have the male gaze in mind and I can’t tell if he is part of that male gaze or if he is critiquing it. Should I like Ernst or should I not like Ernst?

    Your point about the dragon raises this question once again. Is Ernst in favor of female friendship or does he see all-female gatherings to be sinful? Should women always be watched over by men?

    I’d like to think that Ernst is making a comment on patriarchal society – but still my questions remain.

  2. Hi Maddy,

    It’s fascinating how you brought up the portrait in the background, I never really noticed the paintings in the background in this or any of works and it really made me go back and scrutinize all the backgrounds. I also noticed the dragons that seemed to appear generally throughout this chapter–like on page 82, 80–it seems to be quite prevalent. I noticed this reading the chapter and wondered about it’s significance. It’s agree with you that attributing it to commentary on female relationships is an interesting idea. I always saw the relationships between the two women as just friendship and I wish I knew more about his contemporary times to consider if, given the times, the chances/possibility he might be pushing their relationship further towards homosexuality.

    I know that dragons are also sometimes associated with greed-perhaps it’s a commentary on that?


Leave a Reply