Sign for a School of Pirates

Max Ernst1965

Inter-American Development Bank

Inter-American Development Bank
Washington, United States

Max Ernst numbered among the leading figures in the Dada and Surrealist movements of the 1920s and 1930s. Dissatisfied with religious dogmas and influenced by psychology and Freudian psychoanalysis, he became interested in the power of the imagination to subvert societal norms. His early collages and drawings experimented with the effects of juxtaposing seemingly unrelated elements, a visual strategy evident in this late-career lithograph in which the ghostly presence of a nun contrasts with a totem-like figure in the background. The facial features of the main figure are abstracted; her arms are obscured by the unnaturally long sleeves of her habit. The image’s oblique perspective, suggestively describing the deck of a ship, recalls Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings of the 1910s, among Ernst’s early and enduring influences.

This text was created in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and written by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.


  • Title: Sign for a School of Pirates
  • Creator: Max Ernst
  • Date Created: 1965
  • Location Created: Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: 23 1/2 in. x 19 1/8 in.
  • Class: 2-dimensional
  • Medium: lithograph (27/125)

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