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Max Ernst

Max Ernst

(1891 - 1976)
Born: Bruhl, Germany
Style: Surrealism
Famous Works:
  • The Elephant Celebes (1921)
  • Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale (1924)
  • The Angel of the Home or the Triumph of Surrealism (1937)
Max Ernst's body of work, much like his life, is characterized by continuous experimentation and adventure. Ernst showed an early fascination in painting, and became inspired by the post-Impressionists after visiting a 1912 exhibition of their work. Another early source of inspiration for Ernst came during his time at University when, studying psychology and psychiatry, he was exposed to the art of asylum residents. In 1919, Ernst co-founded the Dada group in Cologne and organized famous and outrageous exhibitions. In 1922 Ernst went to Paris where he met Surrealists André Breton and Man Ray and joined the movement. Several of his works are now considered Surrealist masterworks. In particular Ernst was interested in irrational imagery that he culled from unimportant and random sources. By collaging these images together he transformed the components into a body of strange and potent scenes. Ernst created an enormous portfolio of collages, often testing new techniques. One of the methods that he invented is frottage, the act of rubbing surfaces to transfer the textures to canvas, paper, or other grounds. Ernst applied paper atop an object with an abrasive exterior and drew pencil across the paper to evoke the nature of the object's surface. During World War II, Ernst left Paris to seek safety in the United States. He remained there for twelve years, where he was able to collaborate with Breton and Marcel Duchamp. By 1954 Ernst had achieved considerable success and prestige as a painter, and in that year he won the painting prize at the Venice Biennale. Max Ernst's works show tremendous diversity of subject matter and method, and he ranks among the most innovative and respected members of the Dada and Surrealist movements.
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