Ernst was fascinated with microscopic images, which were first broadly distributed in the early twentieth century. Here, he created an overpainting on the ambitious scale of traditional oil painting by using a commercially available teaching chart. Ernst inverted the underlying diagram probably illustrating mitosis in the cells of a gramineous (grassy plant) specimen, and painted in a black ground. He combined these animated organic forms with what appear to be machine parts, while the inscription "The gramineous bicycle garnished with bells the dappled fire damps and the echinoderms bending the spine to look for caresses" lends amusing sexual connotations to the hairs, orifices, and protrusions of these microorganisms.
from Dada, June 18–September 11, 2006
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