"By 1930, after having furiously and methodically composed my novel La femme 100 têtes I was visited almost daily by Loplop, Bird Superior, a private phantom very much attached and devoted to me." (Max Ernst quoted in, Cahiers d'Art, Max Ernst Edition, Paris 1937, p. 24).
Loplop, a mysterious Birdman became for Ernst a shamanic guide to his creativity and was widely understood by his fellow Surrealists to be the artist's alter ego. Birds had always played a profound part in Ernst's imagination. Throughout his life, he grew increasingly to look like one, and as a child, the bizarre death of his pet parrot at precisely the same moment his sister was born had a profound and long-lasting impact on him. As he recalled:
"A friend by the name of Horneborn, an intelligent piebald, faithful bird dies during the night; the same night a baby, number six, enters life. Confusion in the brain of this otherwise quite healthy boy (the young Ernst) - a kind of interpretation mania, as if the newborn innocent, sister Loni, had in her lust for life, taken possession of the vital fluids of his favourite bird. The crisis is soon overcome. Yet in the boy's mind there remains a voluntary if irrational confounding of the images of human beings with birds and other creatures, and this is reflected in the emblems of his art." (Max Ernst, 'Biographische Notizen' cited in exh. cat., Zurich, Max Ernst 1962-63, p. 23).
This painting from 1932 depicts an exuberant Loplop leaping against an open sky above a distant desert horizon. Ernst equated sight and seeing with birds; the eye like an egg gives rise to the bird which, in turn, in the artist's own private mythology and through Loplop the "Bird Superior", gives rise to the artist, the superior see-er or, perhaps, seer. Here, in the present work, Loplop is depicted as an androgynous figure whose form has emerged collage-like from an almost accidental conjunction of painted shapes. A hermaphroditic Birdman with his sharp eyes this Loplop is essentially a Surrealist self-portrait.