Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale
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Do you want to know how we know Max Ernst is a legit painter?

Because every time we look at Two Children Threatened by a Nightingale we feel like we are living in a nightmare. I mean for real, who needs horror films when we have this?

At first, it doesn’t look like much. There’s a cute little gate that leads you to a cute little garden with huge blue skies, but then things get a little more sinister when you realize that there is a woman who has seemingly fainted on the ground. Then you realize that the object in the other woman’s hand is a knife, supposedly her weapon of choice to fight off the nightingale flying above her. And you thought running with scissors was bad. This is just a disaster waiting to happen. But this isn’t even the most concerning thing happening in this painting…There is a man holding a small child on the roof! Of all the places to be holding a small child this has got to be among the worst. He is literally on his tippiest of toes reaching for a knob that is actually fastened to the painting rather than painted into it. Each of these thing individually wouldn’t be that bad but altogether, nightmare-ish, which i guess is the point because Max Ernst was a Dadaist, and then a Surrealist.

Ernst said that this painting came to him in a dream when he was having hallucinations due to a fever as a child. It also has something to do with the death of his sister when he was 6 but Ernst didn’t specify. As the MOMA website says, “Nothing ‘makes sense’ in the picture. Yet the total experience is undeniably meaningful; Ernst has re-created a sensation painfully familiar to us from our dreams but never before quite recaptured in art—that of total disorientation in a world where nothing keeps to its expected scale or fulfills its expected function.” We respect Ernst’s talent but we wish that he wasn’t so good at painting horrifying dreamscapes.



  1. "Max Ernst Biography." N.p., 2018. Web. 31 Aug. 2018.
  2. "Max Ernst Most Important Art | Theartstory." The Art Story. N.p., 2018. Web. 31 Aug. 2018.
  3. "Max Ernst. Two Children Are Threatened By A Nightingale (Deux Enfants Sont Menacés Par Un Rossignol). 1924 | Moma." N.p., 2018. Web. 31 Aug. 2018.