André MASSON
Ecstasy (1938); (1987) {cast}

André Masson’s Ecstasy, a major new acquisition for the NGV’s sculpture collection, encapsulates the Surrealists’ determination to challenge conventional morality by embedding frank depictions of violence, sexuality and sex within their art. These themes preoccupied Masson throughout the 1930s, during which he created paintings and drawings depicting the slaughter of animals in abattoirs, massacres of defenceless women, battling insects and violent tales drawn from ancient Greek mythology. In some places sensuous and in others sharp and angular, Ecstasy’s penetrative interplays blur unsettlingly the distinction between caress and attack. The sculpture’s insectoid forms deliberately reference the praying mantis, a creature that fascinated the Surrealists due to the tendency of the females of this species to cannibalise their male partners during the reproductive act.