Max Ernst | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books




Max Ernst (Brühl, 2 April 1891 - Paris, 1 April 1976) was a naturalized French German painter and sculptor. He is considered one of the greatest exponents of surrealism, a pioneer of the painting technique of grattage and frottage.

Max Ernst was born in Brühl, near Cologne by the painter for the blind Philipp Ernst, who portrayed little Max as a baby Jesus at the age of five, and by Louise Kopp. In 1909 he enrolled at the University of Bonn to study philosophy, also attending courses aimed at psychology and the art of the insane, but he soon abandoned this address to devote himself to the world of art. In 1912 he founded, together with August Macke, the group "Das Junge Rheinland", exhibiting for the first time in Cologne some of his works at the Galerie Feldman. This city, two years later, will introduce him to Hans Arp, with whom he will form a friendship that will last a lifetime.

In August of the following year he went to Paris for the first time. Take part in the First World War. Despite his military service, Ernst manages to devote himself to painting, exhibiting at the "Der Sturm" gallery which will induce him to publish an article On the evolution of color. Returning to Cologne in 1918 he married Luise Strauss. The discovery of Giorgio de Chirico's painting led him to create an album of lithographs (Fiat Modes Pereat Art); in the same year he founded the dada group W / 3 West Stupidia with Johannes Theodor Baargeld; the two artists publish the magazine Der Ventilator and the Bullettin D and organize the first Dada exhibition in Cologne.

On his second trip to Paris in 1920, he was able to be appreciated by the critics of the capital, managing to exhibit some of his creations at the "Galerie Au Sans Pareil". The first exhibition took place in 1921 at the Galerie au Sang Pareil in Paris. Important is his meeting with some exponents of surrealism, such as André Breton and Paul Éluard; his collaboration with the latter resulted in two volumes, Les malheurs des immortels and Répétition (1922). It is the period in which, perhaps inspired by a suggestive journey to the East, he elaborates a new pictorial technique, the frottage, with which he creates a cycle of images published in the volume Histoire naturelle (1926). In 1929 he published the first of his collage-novels, La Femme 100 têtes, and the following year he collaborated with Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel on the film L'âge d'or. In 1930 he made Reve d'une petite fille qui voulut entrer au Carmel, while in 1934 it was the turn of Une semaine de bonté ("A week of goodness"). The tables of these collages-novels were made with collages of images taken from scientific works, medical encyclopedias, catalogs or illustrated stories. The montage of the collages was deliberately concealed, to give the work an appearance of unity, particularly evident in the typographical version. The contrasts with Breton induce Ernst to abandon the surrealist group in 1938 and to move, together with the painter Leonora Carrington, near Avignon.

In 1941 the painter reached the United States, where he collaborated with the surrealist magazine VVV, and where he remained until 1953. During this period, spent in Arizona, Ernst worked tirelessly, experimenting with new forms of expression, such as dripping, and creating important sculptures among the such as, for example, The King Playing with the Queen (1944). In the United States he married twice: the first with Peggy Guggenheim, in 1941, the second with Dorothea Tanning. After returning to Europe, he won the first prize at the Venice Biennale in 1954. He died in Paris on 1 April 1976.