Max Ernst

Max Ernst (Brühl, Germany, April 2, 1891 - Paris, France, April 1, 1976) was a German-born French artist considered a fundamental figure in both the Dada movement and Surrealism. Throughout his varied artistic career, Ernst was characterized as a tireless experimenter, using an extraordinary diversity of techniques, styles and materials. In all his works he sought the ideal means to express, in two or three dimensions, the extra-dimensional world of dreams and imagination. Born in Brühl, near Cologne, in 1891, he was the son of Philip Ernst, a teacher of deaf-mutes and a vocational painter. He entered the University of Bonn in 1909 where he studied philosophy, art history, literature and psychiatry. His first works date from this period, whose expressionist affiliation reveals the trace of his friendship with August Macke, a member of The Blue Horseman. The famous 1912 Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne gave Ernst the opportunity to get to know works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Munch and Picasso firsthand. He enlisted in the German army during the First World War. By the time Ernst left the army, the Dada movement had already emerged in Switzerland; attracted by the Dadaist revolution against the conventional, Ernst settled in Cologne and began to work on collage. In 1922 he moved to Paris, where he began to paint surrealist works in which human figures of great solemnity and fantastic creatures inhabit Renaissance spaces made with detailed precision (L'eléphant Celèbes, 1921, Tate Gallery, London). In 1925 he invented the frottage (which transfers the surface of an object to paper or canvas with the help of pencil shading); later he experimented with grattage (a technique by which dried pigments are scraped or etched onto a canvas or wooden board). Ernst was imprisoned after the invasion of France by the Germans during World War II; In prison, he worked on decalcoming, a technique for transferring paintings made on specially prepared paper to glass or metal. He then resorted to collage in three novels in images: La Femme 100 têtes (The Woman with 100 Heads, 1929), Rêve d'une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel (Dream of a girl who wanted to enter Carmel, 1930) and Une semaine de bonté ou les sept éléments capitaux (A week of goodness or the Seven Capital Elements, 1934).1


In 1930, he made his debut as an actor in the cinema with The Golden Age (L 'Age D' Or), the second surrealist film by Spanish director Luis Buñuel, where he plays the role of the cruel bandit boss. This film caused a real scandal in France, and was banned for more than 50 years. However, Ernst continued to collaborate on other surrealist films in the following years. In 1941, after having a relationship with Leonora Carrington, his student, he emigrated to the United States with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, who would become his third wife in 1942. In 1953 he returned to France and from then on his works enjoyed of a notable revaluation. In 1946 he married Dorothea Tanning in a double wedding together with the couple Man Ray (photographer) - Juliette Browner.
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