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wbillingsley's picture


Max Ernst described Capricorn as a family portrait.

However there is a problem with that. See, Max is an Aries, and as a Pisces myself, I find this appropriation spiritually offensive. He couldn’t have chosen to be represented by a star sign more different than himself. The Capricorn is a timeless creature and lends itself to tradition, responsibility, and seriousness. Max on the other hand was a founding member of the otherworldly Dada movement, and most of his art in super untraditional like his 1942 piece The Antipope. Then in a lifelong failure of spiritual self awareness, you can see a regular effort on Max Ernst's part to deny his identity. Despite being born middle class and German, he regularly tried to make a home with the French aristocracy. Despite constantly choosing to put himself in committed relationships, he regularly abandoned his lovers (one of which ended up in a mental institution after she was left her to fend for herself in a French internment camp). Finally, despite being a lifelong socialite, he chose to wait out WWII and the post-war period in Sedona, Arizona as opposed to Beverly Hills.

However Capricorn, in this way, mirrors some of the man’s spirit. While currently housed in the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. it was originally no more than a large lawn ornament for Max’s house in Sedona. While the actual piece is made of plaster and trash, it is more predominantly known by a bronze copy located in the National Gallery of Art in DC. And while Max describes it as a family portrait it is one, obviously not a portrait and two, it portrays Max and his wife as having children. Max and his fourth wife, Dorothea Tanning, however had no children, and were only ever the parents of a pair of small dogs.

One could, of course, argue that this regular rejection of the truth is a sort of Capricorn-esque discipline. In other words, Max has a tradition of being untraditional, and in some way might feel it is his duty, maybe to Dadaism, to test the how far one could shirk their own responsibilities. However I would argue that accepting such a challenge is a very Aries thing to do.



  1. “Capricorn” National Gallery of Art, 2018,
  2. Lozynska, Rita “Surrealistic wives of Max Ernst”, 2019,
  3. “Max Ernst Biography” 2010,
  4. Birthday, Santa Monica: The Lapis Press, 1986 (