Max Ernst (born April 2, 1891 died April 1, 1976) is a gifted German avant-garde painter, sculptor and book illustrator, a tireless experimenter who stood at the origins of surrealism, a loyal adherent of Dadaism and a genius of collage. The creativity of Max Ernst is characterized by depth, subtle irony and endless ingenuity. Ernst’s talented and even visionary paintings determined his place in the ranks of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
Biography of Max Ernst
Max Ernst was born into a large family on April 2, 1891 near Cologne in the town of Brühl in the west of the German Empire. The boy’s father taught at a school for deaf and dumb kids. It was to him that Max owes his first drawing skills. Philip-Ernst was a lover of painting and devoted his free time to drawings on a religious theme. Once, he even portrayed his son as a baby Jesus.
Max Ernst took an early interest in drawing. He had to comprehend all the subtleties on his own. This was partly because the young talent rejected all conventions and regulations, rebelled against rules and order. He said that the mere mention of duty or duty gave him a fit of disgust. Of course, this did not add to the love of the teachers at school.
Since 1909, the future artist is a student at the University of Bonn. Parents saw Ernst as a philosopher and psychologist, but the latter discipline interested the young man only because of the opportunity to visit hospitals for the mentally ill. The master’s curiosity aroused the creativity of madmen.
During his studies, he continues to study painting and literature.
His work is strongly influenced by the work of Kandinsky, Van Gogh (Vincent Willem van Gogh), Munch (Edvard Munch) and other recognized masters. In addition, Max Ernst is seriously interested in the work of Sigmund Freud (Sigmund Freud), maintains a close friendship with the expressionist August Macke (August Robert Ludwig Macke). It is believed that it was the friendship with Macke that played a decisive role in Ernst’s choice of the profession of an artist.
In 1914, when the First World War began, Ernst was drafted to the front, into the artillery. And even on the front line, Max did not stop creating. Moreover, he managed to arrange an exhibition of his work in Berlin in 1916. During the hostilities, the artist was wounded several times and demobilized with the rank of lieutenant.
The war did not interfere with the master’s personal life: shortly before the signing of the peace treaties, in 1918, Max Ernst married Louise Strauss. Their acquaintance began at the university, in 1914. The marriage lasted only four years and broke up shortly after the birth of a son. During and after the war, Max Ernst became closer to the Dadaists.
The artist experiments with collages and painting techniques, arranges exhibitions.
In 1921, he was already so famous that he received an invitation to organize a personal exhibition in Paris. His works are of great interest to connoisseurs of art, and much about the Parisian exposition is written in the media. The author himself was unable to obtain a French visa, and therefore was not present at the exhibition.
In 1921, Ernst met the famous Gala and her husband Paul Éluard. This connection with the future muse of Salvador Dalí had a serious impact on the work of the master. In 1925, the painter takes part in the First Surrealist Exhibition, which takes place at the Pierre Gallery.
In the same year, he invents the frotting technique. They say that looking at shadows on the parquet prompted him to the idea of a new technique. Frottage was first used by Ernst during the design of the book “Natural History”. At the same time, the artist does not abandon collage a technique that will form the basis of his future novels. Among them: “Week of Kindness”, “Headless Woman” and others.
The rise to power of the Nazis is a difficult time for many German artists.
The infamous Munich exhibition of “degenerate art” features, among others, two works by Max Ernst.
In June 1941, Ernst moved to America, where his son from his first marriage, Jimmy, lives. In the USA, he paints tiny landscapes, often meets old surrealist friends. Here he finds happiness in marriage. His last wife is the artist Dorothea Tanning.
A few years later, the couple moved to the south of France, to the land of the sun and vineyards. The artist is popular and in demand, his fame is at its zenith. The French period is one of the brightest in the master’s career. On the night of April 1, 1976, the painter leaves the earthly world. The urn with his ashes rests in the columbarium of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
The most famous paintings by Max Ernst
Most of Max Ernst’s paintings are reminiscent of dreams in their content. His most famous works:
- “Two children are threatened by a nightingale” (1924). The painting is made using several relief objects and embodies the idea of going beyond.
- Bride’s Robe (1940). The surreal masterpiece resembles a dream within a dream. The effect is achieved by a copy of the image hanging behind the bride. The technique used in the work is “decalcomania” (orange and purple fragments).
- “Celebess or the elephants of Celebess” (1921). The work reflects the author’s perception of the phenomenon of the war in which he participated. Separate fragments of a menacing figure resemble a tank, a gas mask, and blades.
- “People do not know this” (1923). A work with a clearly sexual connotation could well serve as an illustration of Freud’s ideas.
- Madonna Spanking Christ (1926). One of the master’s most shocking masterpieces. The clerics declared the painting blasphemy. The traditional technique of oil painting was used in the creation.