2 April 1891, Brühl, Germany -
1 April 1976, Paris, France
In 1959 Max Ernst modelled a series of masks in plasticine, some of which were shown in the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, later that same year. For Ernst creating these models was a release, 'whenever I return to it I begin to relax, I feel like I'm on vacation'. To turn these models into gold jewels, Ernst turned to the goldsmith François Hugo in Aix-en-Provence. He had previously used the Pastori foundry in Switzerland to cast up a mask pendant but they had used solid 18ct gold just as they would a bronze, so that it was very heavy. Hugo, however, had a much lighter approach, having developed a technique for Picasso of hammering sheets of gold or silver into bronze negative moulds, a technique that lent itself to executing a two-dimensional design, into a gold jewel. The gold used was 23ct because of its malleability and colour.