Frottage art

In art, frottage (from French frotter, “to rub”, Rubbing) is a surrealist and “automatic” method of creative production developed by Max Ernst.

“… All sorts of materials that could be in my field of vision: the leaves and their ribs, the frayed edges of a canvas bag, the brushstrokes of a modern painting, a thread of a reel, and so on. »
(Max Ernst, “Au-delà de la peinture”, Cahiers d’Art, 1937)

The frottage is an artistic technique that consists of rubbing a pencil on a sheet placed on an object, getting an impression of the shape and texture of that object. It can also be done with colored pencils, or paint on the first sketch. It was designed by the surrealist painter Max Ernst in 1925.

This technique is based on reproducing the texture of different objects with results in many surprising cases on paper; for example: a coin, a dry tree leaf, etcetera; rubbing with a colored bar, a graphite or colored pencil, with waxes, or other materials that allow trapping the texture on the sheet of paper.

In the painting of Max Ernst, the shapes of dots or small spots have been applied with frottage, applying a texture of that type full of paint, which means that it has only been stained with the outstanding texture in the form of dots.

The paintings and drawings of Max Ernst, to whom the invention of this technique is attributed, serve as a good example of the use and development of this technique.

In frottage, the artist takes a pastel or pencil or other drawing tool and makes a rubbing over an uneven surface. The drawing can be left as it is or used as the basis for further refinement. While superficially similar to brass rubbing and other forms of rubbing intended to reproduce an existing subject, and in fact sometimes being used as an alternative term for it, frottage differs in being aleatoric and random in nature.

It was developed by Ernst in 1925. Ernst was inspired by an ancient wooden floor where the grain of the planks had been accentuated by many years of scrubbing. The patterns of the graining suggested strange images to him. He captured these by laying sheets of paper on the floor and then rubbing over them with a soft pencil.

Technique and basic materials
This technique consists in superimposing a certain support, such as a sheet of paper or a canvas, on a surface that has more or less marked reliefs, such as stone, wood or anything that is not smooth. Using pencils of various softness, pastels, chalks, contè or charcoal, the support will be rubbed, leaving the reliefs of the underlying surface gradually emerging. The result of this process allows to obtain drawings and chiaroscuro textures and fade and images to a large extent random and unpredictable. In addition to being used simply to produce particular graphic images, frottage can also be the starting point and the basis for creating more elaborate works, over a longer period of time. Another way to use this technique allows to enrich areas and details of drawings and paintings with textures or graphic motifs.

Ernst and Surrealism
The frottage was rediscovered as an artistic technique by the surrealist artist Max Ernst. Looking at the floor of the wood of his room, he leaned over a sheet of paper on which rubbed with a pencil getting a copy of the survey, from this simple experience, he realized the endless possibilities that might arise. Ernst first called this technique grattage and subsequently frottage, with it he realized in the 20s a series of works that had as a recurrent image the forest, published in his “Histoire Naturelle”. Using this technique he implements the surrealist principle of psychic automatism in painting, already present in a literary form with the automatic writing of surrealist poets.

Advanced technique
The advanced technique is designed specifically by Max Ernst, is based on the same basic principle of rubbing but is implemented by different means and with greater sophistication. It consists in scrapping away with a spatula or another tool a layer of fresh color, for example in oil, leaving the underlying background color to surface.

The scraping, as in the basic technique, always takes place after overlapping a rough surface, the results obtained are however more pictorial and material.

Source from Wikipedia