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Blades of forest, pine, and sage green intermixed with slivers of cobalt and sky blue, crimson red, and rose pink create a band of abstracted tree-like forms across this horizontal painting. The blues, red, and pink are concentrated on a structure, presumably a tree, at the front center. To our left of center, geometric shapes like circles, triangles, and rectangles create the impression of a beaked bird, with each shape being fractured into bands of emerald green, royal blue, brick red, and butter yellow. Closer examination finds other birds nearly obscured within the dark, accordion-like patterns of the leaves, including a flock of red-eyed, black, razor-like birds to our left and another creature with a bird-like head and humanoid body to our right. Across the top third of the composition, the sky is pale blue to our left and brightens to shell pink and then light yellow around a disk-like form, to our right. A couple geometric, stylized shapes read as clouds near the upper left corner. Next to a tiny, white line drawing of two abstracted, animal-like forms in the lower right corner, the artist signed his name, “max ernst,” in white paint and the date, “1939” in red.

Max Ernst, A Moment of Calm, 1939, oil on canvas, Gift of Dorothea Tanning Ernst, 1982.34.1

Max Ernst and Rosie Lee Tompkins

Break for Art

  • Saturday, August 5, 2023
  • 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
  • East Building, Ground Level - Art Information Desk
  • Talks
  • In-person

Join us for a gallery talk with National Gallery interns. This session includes two dynamic presentations reflecting diverse artistic styles and time periods: Max Ernst’s Moment of Calm (1939) and Rosie Lee Tompkins’ Untitled (framed half-squares four patch) (1989).