Max Ernst, Loplop, 1932,
Oil on canvas, 100 x 81 cm, © 2011 ProLitteris, Zurich
In this painting by Max Ernst we see a dream-like image: a strange, half-bird, half-human, half-man, half-woman hybrid, leaping, floating, flying through a realistic-looking sky. It´s crossing a surreal empty landscape with huge bounds. The title given to this painting reveals whom Max Ernst has depicted here. It is “Loplop” – the private phantom.
Max Ernst dates the origins of this “private phantom” back to 1906. On the same night that the 15 year-old´s beloved pet bird had died, his little sister was born. They were two events that Ernst described in 1924: “There was confusion in the mind of the otherwise healthy young lad. His insane interpretation was that the lust for life of the newly born embodiment of innocence, his sister Loni, had sapped away the lifeblood of this dear bird. The crisis was soon overcome. But in the imagination of the young boy there remained an admittedly irrational conception of people mingled with birds and other creatures. And this was reflected in the symbols of his art.”
Up until the beginning of the 1930s Ernst produced a series of works that repeatedly dealt with the mysterious Loplop. It was his declared intention to: “…bring to light the discoveries of my travels into the subconscious and to record what there is to see in the frontier between the internal and external worlds…”
In Loplop Max Ernst had created a seductive alter ego, with which he could beguile the observer into following him into the surreal background of his pictures and thus the underworld of the subconscious.