French, born Germany, 1891-1976
The King Playing with the Queen, 1944 (cast 1954) Bronze, 37 7/8 x 33 x 21 1/8 in. (96.2 x 83.8 x 53.7 cm.)
Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Dallas, Texas
Like many of Ernst's sculptures from this period, The King Playing with the Queen features an assemblage of diverse forms cast from containers and household objects. In a playful allusion to the Surrealist love for the game of chess, a large, horned king rises out of a flat, tabletop arrangement of elements resembling a game board. He is at once the only player and one of the game pieces. This witty evocation of gamesmanship also intones darker themes of sexual manipulation and dominance. The king reaches out to grasp and move the much smaller queen, and at the same time, deceptively conceals another piece behind his back.