The painting comprises a horizontal landscape, which includes 3 figures, one flesh-colored and two red. The sexes of the characters are impossible to determine because the external features, including facial characteristics, aren't shown. The artist places each figure next to a large object. On the left side of the image is an artichoke, which comprises phallic extensions and topped with yellow buds. The yellow buds resemble flower pistils. One of the red characters is captured by the artichoke. The second red figure stands next to a phallic form, which is similar to the phallic forms encapsulated by the artichoke. On the right side of the image is a flesh-colored figure, which is standing inside of a womb or cutaway egg.
Max Ernst was inspired by Giorgio de Chirico in terms of his choice of artichokes, phallic shapes, and mannequin characters. The phallic shapes are reminiscent of Giorgio de Chirico's towers. He also inspired Ernst's empty landscape, which is stretching towards an unknown horizon. Freud also inspired Max Ernst. Dada Gaugin can be interpreted from the standpoint of the Interpretation of Dreams by Freud, which Ernst studied in 1913. While he was interpreting one of his dreams, Freud made a series of associations ranging from cyclamens, his wife's preferred flowers, to his favorite food, which was the artichoke. He also interpreted one of his childhood hobbies, respectively tearing color books apart, just like artichokes.
Regarding the sexual symbolism of the artichoke, Freud didn't elaborate on any theories, but he linked it to intimate episodes of his childhood. Ernst's artichoke can be interpreted on several levels such as a sexual symbol, a reference to Freud's symbolism and his Interpretation of Dreams and as the equivalent to the overpainting and collage process which Ernst adopted. It's the requirement of material destruction, such as Freud would tear apart his colored books. Max Ernst created Dada Gauguin in 1920. The masterpiece is housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. The artwork is 30 cm tall and 40 cm wide. It's a representation of Ernst's symbolism and passion for the interpretation of dreams.