Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now on view at The Menil Collection, Houston

September 11, 2015 – January 3, 2016

Featuring the works of 50 artists and ranging across the modern era, Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now is the first major museum exhibition to focus on the frottage technique and its many artistic applications.

The technique known as rubbing or frottage falls somewhere between drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, combining elements of all these mediums. It involves making an impression of an object through the transfer of its forms onto a sheet of paper, which is usually achieved by rubbing the paper over the object or incised surface with a marking agent such as graphite or wax crayon. The term frottage derives from the French frotter (to rub) and is most commonly associated today with the Surrealist artist Max Ernst and the idiosyncratic images that he created from a variety of surfaces, including wood and leaves, for his famous print portfolio Histoire Naturelle (1926). Ernst claimed that he discovered the technique in 1925, while gazing at the floorboards of his hotel room, and he regarded it as his contribution to automatism. As a type of automatic drawing, or a partially indirect process applied to achieve unpremeditated imaginary compositions, frottage became one of the key practices of Surrealist drawing.

read more