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Collection > Max Ernst >

Les Asperges de la Lune


  • Medium

    Painted cast resin

  • Dimensions

    65 1/4 x 11 x 8 in. (165.74 x 27.94 x 20.32 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Gift of The Capricorn Trust and Mrs. Jimmy Ernst

  • Accession number


  • Object label

    ​Max Ernst’s Les asperges de la lune, meaning “lunar asparagus,” hybridizes animal and vegetable forms by topping spindly stalks with schematically rendered faces. The scale is average for a person but wildly fantastical for an asparagus. This surprising, nonsensical crossbreeding exemplifies a central principle of surrealist art: the juxtaposition of two disparate, contradictory states. Surrealist objects harness the illogical character of dreams to present unexpected, irrational forms that, ideally, jolt the viewer’s consciousness. Importantly, Ernst’s sculpture is not only a pairing of plant and beast, it is also a sexual coupling. It was inspired by a West Papuan carving of a male and a female pair, and the vaginal cleft of the left-hand figure’s face, the right-hand figure’s breastlike eyes, and the phallic form of both bodies can, potentially, shock the viewer into an awareness of previously repressed, unconscious sexual fantasies and desires.