french (born germany)
Lived in Paris, New York 1940-1948, became French citizen in 1958. Painter, sculptor, a leading advocate for irrationality in art, and originator of Automatism movement of Surrealism. As a youth his interests were psychiatry and philosophy, however he abandoned his studies at the University of Bonn for painting. Served in the German army during World War . Converted to Dada, the nihilistic art movement, and formed a group of Dada artists in Cologne. With artist-poet Jean Arp, edited journals and created a scandal by staging a Dada exhibit in a public restroom. More important, however, were his Dada collages and photomontages - startlingly illogical compositions which suggest multiple identities for the things depicted. Moved to Paris in 1922 and two years later became a founding member of the Surrealists. To facilitate the flow of imagery from the unconscious mind, Ernst began to use "frottage" (pencil rubbings of such things as wood grain, fabric, or leaves) and "decalcomania" (the transferring of paint from one surface to another by pressing them together). By contemplating the accidental patterns and textures resulting from these techniques, he allowed free association to suggest images he then used in a series of drawings ("Histoire naturelle," 1926) and in many paintings such as "The Great Forest" (1927) and "The Temptation of St. Anthony" (1945). These vast landscapes stem from the tradition of the German Romantics. After 1934 Ernst's activities centered more and more on sculpture, using improvised techniques. At the onset of World War II, he moved to the US, where he met his third wife, the collector and gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim. After returning to France in 1949, his work became less and less experimental: he spent much of his time perfecting his modeling technique in traditional sculptural materials.
© Max Ernst/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York