Like automatism, Grattage is Surrealist painting technique. Simply,it involves laying a canvas prepared with a layer of oil paint over a textured object. The artist scrapes the paint off to create an interesting and unexpected surface. Max Ernst and Joan Miró have both experimented with the technique. Gratter is the French verb for scratching.

Around 1927, Max Ernst developed his painting to include grattage as an extension of frottage. Initially, he applied several superimposed layers of paint to a canvas. Underneath the canvas, he placed objects such as string, metal grids and wooden boards. The relief of those objects could then be seen through the canvas. In order to transfer those structures to the picture, he scratched away the top layers of paint. In a subsequent phase, he reworked the patterns that had become visible, transforming them into forests, birds and urban areas.

Examples of grattage art include:
Forest and Dove 1927, Max Ernst
The Forest 1928, Max Ernst

Grattage, frottage and collage are currently experiencing a renaissance in mixed media art from contemporary artists.

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