Biography of Max Ernst (1891-1976)

German painter, born in Brühl on April 2, 1891 and died on April 1, 1976, in Paris, one of the creators of surrealism. In 1908 he/she studied philosophy and history of art at the University of Bonn Worringer, but soon abandons this address to devote himself fully to art. In this period his interests are directed toward psychology and the art of the insane. Influence you this time Van Gogh, Gauguin and Monet. He/She makes friends with August Macke in 1911 and joined the Group of Expressionists in Bonn. His first solo exhibition takes place in Cologne Feldman Gallery in 1912, while the Sonderbund exhibition, with works by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Munch and Picasso and the futuristic exhibition can be seen in this city. The following year he/she met Apollinaire and Delaunay and visit Paris. In 1914 he/she met Arp, who joins a strong friendship throughout their lives. Despite being mobilized during the first war, Ersnt manages to paint and exhibit in 1916 in the Gallery Der Sturm in Berlin. In 1917 he/she participated in the second exhibition of the Dada Gallery.

In 1918 he/she returned to Cologne, makes his first collages and founded the Dadaist group from Cologne, who will have a short life. His works from this period are based on schemes of scientific instruments and typefaces used to produce certain images. Little machine constructed by Minimax Dadamax same, 1919, represents the psychological pressures of sexual intercourse through the invention of a machine to produce sperm. In 1920-1921 he/she participated in the second and final exhibition of Dada in Cologne, along with Arp, Picabia and Tzara. The exhibition is closed by the police.

He exhibits for the first time in Paris, in 1921, at the gallery Au Sans Pareil. At the beginning of the 1920s he/she participates in the activity of the surrealists Breton and Eluard. In 1924 he/she traveled to Indochina with Eluard and return to Paris, received with enthusiasm the emergence of the manifesto of surrealism. In 1925, he/she created the first frottages, a means of forcing the inspiration (Ernst), in whose origin is a childhood memory and certain recommendations proposed, as an exercise, Leonardo in his treatise on painting. Natural history, which includes some frottages is published the following year. The Kiss (1927), is one of his surrealist works inspired, like some others, in an erotic theme. Main lines that make up the work may have arisen the trace of a left cord fall upon the preparatory surface, a method quite surreal. Visually, the technique creates calligraphic rhythms against the bright colors of the sky and the Earth.

In 1926 he/she collaborated with Miró in scenery for Diaghilev. In 1929 he/she met Giacometti and participates in the film the golden age with Buñuel and Dalí. In 1932 his first exhibition takes place in America in the Gallery Julien Levy. In Zoomorphic copy (1933) is the image of the bird that can be found in the work of Ernst since 1925 and who, in the 1930s, becomes an obsessive concern. In 1936 he/she participated in the exhibition fantastic art, Dada, surrealism, in the Museum of modern art in New York.

In 1939, is arrested in France and in 1942 fled to the United States with Peggy Guggenheim, that is married in 1942. Dressing the bride (1940) is ".. .a example of Verismo and illusionist surrealism of Ernst, in which a traditional technique is applied to a subject incongruent and disturbing." The theatrical and evocative scene derives from Symbolist painting of end of the 19th century, especially of Gustave Moreau. On the other hand, it recreates the rooms and grounds of the 16th-century German art... The architectural background, with its contrast of lights and shadows and his inconsistent perspective, shows the influence of De Chirico, whose work impressed him seeing them for the first time in 1919... The title of the work was conceived by Ernst at the end of 1936... The artist for a long time has been identified with the image of the bird... Could be therefore interpreted the figure of Birdman of left as a representation of the artist himself; the wife could be the young English surrealist painter Leonora Carrington..." (Flint).

In 1946, he/she married Dorothea Tanning and removed to Sedona, Arizona, where he/she built a mansion and makes wall sculptures. In 1953 the first prize at the Biennale of Venice returns to France and in the 1954 wins. In 1958 is a French citizen.

His first major retrospective was held in 1975, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York, which occurs later, with some variations, in the National Museum of modern art in Paris. In April 2005, for its part, opened a major retrospective at the Museum New York Metropolitam which showcased almost two hundred works of the artist, the largest exhibition of Ernst since his death.


Flint, Lucy. The Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, New York, 1983.