Is It Too Surreal For You?

Until the twentieth century, artists tried to capture reality in their paintings. Surrealism surfaced in the period following WWI in the  1920s, when young artists wanted to create something more than a mere copy of what they saw.  Artists became more primitive, dreamlike, violent as well as childlike.


How does Max Ernst’s “Elephant Celebes” reflect the surrealist style art?

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9 Responses to Is It Too Surreal For You?

  1. Paloma Díaz says:

    Max Ernst’s “Elephant Celebes” reflects the surrealist style art because the goal of surrealist art was to resolve the formerly opposing conditions of dream and reality. Artists painted frightening, irrational scenes that seemed almost real. They made unusual creatures from ordinary objects and developed painting techniques that permitted the unconscious to express itself.

  2. M johnson says:

    Try to connect the characteristics of the period to the artwork itself – Avoid generalizations in your responses

  3. Samantha Kosziollek says:

    The Surrealist style encourages art to be more dreamlike. When we dream, we are left to comtemplate what the dream meant – if it had a meaning at all.. Surrealist art does the same thing. Instead of having an obvious meaning, it leaves the viewer to interpret the meaning themself. “Elephant Celebes” may represent something to do with machinery, but also the classical artifacts that led to the development of our world today. It’s almost childlike, as well – like the surrealist style – because of the depiction of the elephant structure. Ernst could have used anything else instead.

  4. Daniel Chauca says:

    This painting combines the vivid, dreamlike atmosphere of Surrealism with the collage aspects of Dada. In visual form, Surrealism often distorts objects we see everyday and revisions it in a different form. Here he is re-visioning an elephant. Even though this is not an elephant that we are used to seeing, this is still a regular elephant. Like all Surrealist art, this painting does not a clear cut meaning and is open to interpretation. We can come up with numerous interpretations to try to find out what the meaning was, if there was one in the first place. Also in the painting, the mannequin is wearing a surgical glove which is a common surrealist symbol.

  5. Randy Edwards says:

    This piece of art reflects surrealism through the different aspects that portray that the image is beyond reality. Surrealism does not have a specific meaning to it, and “Elephant Celebes” shares that same aspect to surrealism. Surrealism projects the idea of beyond reality and in this piece, you can find a metal elephant, a mannequin, and what looks to be some kind of tree. These all show beyond reality when you think about the reason why these items are all together in the same piece of art. The answer can’t be concluded thus giving it no true meaning.

  6. Neena Arias says:

    it reflects the surrealist style because you have it named for and elephant and while you can see sort of what he meant by elephant, with the large grey machine in the middle with the trunk like tube, it isn’t really an elephant and other aspects as well are dream like. Like the headless woman’s torso with the odd hand and the strange apparatus on to of the elephant like structure.

  7. Keri Mallari says:

    As my dictionary stated it, Surrealism is defined as an “avant-garde movement in art that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.”
    Max Ernst’s “Elephant Celebes” reflects surrealist style art, because if you look at it, it’s a wee bit messed up, and by wee bit i mean completely. Messed up in a way that if you look at it, you don’t get it, because it’s a little bit of everything, because it’s more of your unconscious mind, because it doesn’t look real. It doesn’t represent one simple thing, because if you look at it, you can see an elephant, you can see a kettle, you can see just a something in the work. Ernst’s work reflects surrealist art, because it’s 1/0 = undefined. (I love math <333)

  8. Joerenz Bolina says:

    Surrealist art is a type of art that is dreamlike and unreal in its portrayal; its meant to bring out the views and expression of the artist in a dream state. This painting depicts exactly that, with a slight hint of dada. At first, you can kind of see the elephant. On closer inspection, it looks like a giant mechanical machine with a trunk feature that makes it look like an elephant. It looks like there is a bull head attached to the trunk of the giant vacuum elephant. The blurry, cloudy, floaty background further brings out the surreal and dreamy feeling of the painting. The painting also seems abstract and nonsensical, since there is the dead tree with the floating ball, and weird manniquen that is missing body parts, and a boatload of stuff on top of the vacuum elephant. This is just so weird, its like something you would only see in a dream, and never in real life. In fact, it is exactly like a dream: it seems just so random and incomprehensible, but theres a ton of meaning behind it.

    This painting in particular actually seems like a nightmare, and it may have correlations to world war 2. If you look at where the yellow orange arm is, it is right next to the black trunk. Yellow, orange, black = german flag colors. The colors of the weird objects on top could symbolize other countries at the time, like britain, france, ireland, or italy. There actually is a tornado looking figure in the back of the sky, so that could symbolize the reign of hitler and nazi germany and the destruction caused by the regime, like the holocaust. The size of the elephant vacuum could symbolize the amount of power hitler gained and held, especially due to the policy of appeasement that allowed all of that to happen. The atmosphere is also very ominus and depressing. This seems to tip towards a political painting, but it is still really abstract, dreamy, and widely open to interpretation.

    Im likely to have a nightmare on somthing like this tonight, but in any case, this my my two cents on surrealism and the vacuum elephant.

  9. mjsevensins says:


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