“The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child”, Max Ernst, 1926

Pioch explains that Ernst’s oil painting is based on the classical motif of Venus punishing Amor, aka Cupid, a scene depicted dozens of times in olden times (see below), and often with allusions to sexual pleasure. The fact that Ernst renamed the usual subjects – as the famous mum and tot of Christianity – “tell us that this scene is a requital with the severe and orthodox Catholic education in his childhood”. I’m really not sure what that means, but Pioch explains no further. He calls the picture “disrespectful and somewhat blasphemous”, but that’s “quite typical for the dadaist movement”.

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