Sendak & Ernst

When we viewed some of Max Ernst’s collages in class, I immediately thought of the illustrations in Maurice Sendak’s, “Where The Wild Things Are”. While Sendak’s illustrations may be relatively easy to interpret and don’t appear to be collages, the “Wild Thing” characters and style of illustration remind me of the surrealism Ernst played with in his collages. Sendak’s illustrations have a sort of dark feeling like Ernst’s collages. Below I’ve included some works from both artists:

Ernst’s collages can be complex and difficult to decipher, and while they are more sexualized than Sendak’s, I think there is a parallel between their styles. Both create characters that the viewer will be able to objectively recognize, but subjectively interpret. For Sendak we see monsters, but monsters mean different things to different people. Some people find them scary and evil while others see them as an exciting narrative of friendly or cute symbols. I think the monsters aren’t necessarily depicted in a child-friendly manner, they can come off as quite frightening with their teeth, horns, and claws; despite their harmlessness. With Ernst, we see genders. Men and women that have abstract components attached to them like the bird or lizard (I think it’s a lizard) in the pictures above. This allows for a variety of interpretations, which makes collages interesting objects to look at. Sendak and Ernst have a similar storytelling styles that portrays abstract and uncommon content.

One Reply to “Sendak & Ernst”

  1. Jess, I love this parallel between Ernst’s collages and Where the Wild Things Are! I agree that both artists have dark undertones to their work, though I think Sendak simultaneously manages to introduce an element of play and whimsy despite this. Ernst’s figures are perhaps more disturbing because they are an eerie blend of human and beast. Sendak makes a stark separation between Max as a little boy and the monsters that he finds in the forest. Conversely, Ernst blurs the lines and throws into question the very definition of humanity. This for, me, is what makes Une semaine de bonté especially nightmarish.

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