Max Ernst

Among the most famous artists of the twentieth century, Max Ernst was a master of painting, sculpture and printmaking. His works were influenced by such art movements as Dada and Surrealism. His work also served as a commentary on social issues such as World War I.

Max Ernst

Early life

Amongst the leading figures in the Surrealist movement, Max Ernst is remembered for his experimental works. He was a self-taught painter and graphic artist. He used improvised media, and illustrated manuals, to explore the themes of fantasy and dreams. He created a unique world of his own. He dubbed his bird Loplop an alter ego. In addition to painting, he also developed several other techniques, including grattage and decalcomania.

He was also a poet. He wrote a book, Beyond Painting, in 1948. It is a complete catalogue of his work. During the early 1920s, he was involved in a number of activities that were considered crucial in the formation of the Surrealist movement.

He met a woman named Peggy Guggenheim in New York. They married in a double ceremony. The marriage was short-lived and was a break from the father of the couple. However, they lived in New York for a while before moving to Sedona, Arizona.

After the war, he became a major player in the avant-garde movement in Paris. He exhibited his own work in 1923 at the Salon des Independants. He began creating collages in 1918 and was also involved in the Dada movement. In 1925, he created the first frottages. He later collaborated with Joan Miro on a series of designs for the Sergei Diaghilev ballet.

In the early 1930s, he worked on his wordless novel, Woman with 100 heads. He was arrested in 1939 by the Gestapo. After a brief prison stint, he escaped to the United States with the help of an art collector.

World War I

During World War I, Max Ernst was conscripted into the German army. He served on both the Western and Eastern Fronts. He worked in the artillery division. He was demobilized in 1918. He returned to Cologne where he met Jean Arp. He was also influenced by Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio de Chirico, and August Macke. He became a member of the Dada movement.

In 1919, Ernst began to create collages. His subjects included headless bodies, bodyless hands, and disjointed scenes. The subjects appeared in thick forests, deserted beaches, and dreamscapes. These collages were a reflection of the menacing atmosphere of war.

In the years following the war, Ernst was a key member of the Dada movement. His collages were filled with mechanically-produced fragments. The pieces were composed of photographs from various sources. The collages were considered criminal, as they inflicted damage on nature.

The collages were a form of subversion. They made worlds of subliminal meaning visible. The subjects were often disjointed, but the pieces conveyed a sense of menace and destruction. The artist’s technique, known as grattage, produced rough texture and amplified the density of the forest.

Max Ernst’s work became influential during the mid-20th century in the United States. His collages portrayed the lunacy of the times. He also used his childhood experiences to create absurd scenarios. He believed that turmoil was coming from Germany. He feared that a new chaos would spread throughout Europe.


During the early twentieth century, Max Ernst (1901-1976) reshaped painting. Taking a cue from surrealists, he created stunning images without narratives, using unconventional techniques. In this way, he made the worlds of dreams and subconsciousness visible. His paintings often elicited discomfort in viewers who were not aware of his intentions. Throughout his career, he maintained a rebellious streak, even as his bourgeois sensibilities grew more sophisticated.

He started painting in 1909, at the age of 17. He studied art history at the University of Bonn. He was impressed by Vincent van Gogh and Giorgio de Chirico, and his interest in the unconscious became a driving force. He also learned about hypnosis and dream theory from Sigmund Freud. He was able to explore his own subconscious with this method, which facilitated his artistic investigations.

One of the first artists to apply Sigmund Freud’s dream theories to his art was Max Ernst. By combining common dream imagery with his own personal experiences, he was able to create stunning works.

During the war, Ernst served on both the Western and Eastern Fronts. He also had a difficult time remaining in Europe due to the second world war. He escaped to the United States with the help of art collector Peggy Guggenheim. After leaving his home in Aurenche, he moved to New York, where he met Dorothea Tanning. She was the mother of his daughter and died in 1976.


During the early twentieth century, Max Ernst was a key figure in the Surrealism movement. The artist’s collages and paintings merged the subconscious and imagination with reality. The artist’s work frequently poked fun at religious themes. He was a major influence on the paintings of Jackson Pollock.

Aside from painting, Max Ernst also created sculptures and graphic art. He received a Venice Biennale award in 1954. His art has been exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art in Madrid, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona, and the Orsay Museum in Paris.

Ernst studied Sigmund Freud’s theories about dreams and unconscious processes. This knowledge enabled him to create a series of art pieces that depicted the unconscious without the aid of hypnosis. He also believed that religion was a result of neuroses.

During the First World War, he served in France, and then in 1918, he moved to Cologne. After the armistice, he returned to Germany. He met his third wife, Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012), in New York. She was an art collector and curator. They married in October 1946. A year later, they divorced.

In 1919, he studied the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. He was inspired by the artist’s use of dream iconography in his work. Afterward, he began creating collages, which are among his most famous pieces.

Besides his paintings, he also edited journals. He used illustrated manuals and catalogs as sources for his artwork.

Influence on Jackson Pollock

During the early years of World War II, many European artists sought refuge in New York. The international crisis prompted a regionalist sentiment in American scene painting.

In the late thirties, Jackson Pollock abandoned the style of his mentor, Thomas Hart Benton, and moved into an advanced, modern painting style. He was a key figure in the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. He was also influenced by Surrealism and Mexican muralist painter Diego Rivera.

In his first style, Jackson Pollock blended the language of European modernism with a sense of American romanticism. He developed a series of semi-abstract totemic compositions. His forms resemble those of Joan Miro or Andre Masson.

His earliest paintings were characterized by a tumultuous, pulsing energy. These works were sometimes reduced to motor violence or monotony. But his later paintings retained tension, with aerated webs of silver and black line.

During this period, his paintings were often bought by private collectors. He exhibited them at Betty Parsons’ gallery in New York. In 1947, he began to develop the drip technique. He wrote freely over the canvas’ surface with a whiplash line.

By the late 1940s, he had established a reputation as an artist who could take the abstract expressionist movement in new directions. In Life magazine, he was cited as the greatest living painter in the United States.

His work became a key symbol of the post-World War II triumph of American painting. His drip paintings forever changed the course of art in the United States.

Social commentary

During the early 20th century, German artist Max Ernst was a pivotal figure for many artists. His social commentary reveals an intensely personal relationship with the world. While most artists embraced conventional values, Ernst challenged them. His works revealed the unintentional, the unconscious, and the absurd.

In 1919, Ernst began exploring “beyond painting” with his collages. His art revealed the primal emotions and traumas that he had experienced. He used childhood memories, war experiences, and other absurd scenarios to create apocalyptic scenes.

He also began exploring psychology. He viewed decay of nature as a metaphor for the decay of relationships between humans. His work showed the overlap between plant, animal, and human life.

His most famous collage novel, A Week of Kindness, was exhibited twice in its entirety. It continues to gather new admirers almost 90 years after its creation. It was also exhibited 70 years later at the Orsay Museum in Paris.

After the armistice, he returned to Germany. The Nazis condemned his art, and he was incarcerated in a prison camp. In addition, his first wife, Luise, left him. He married Marie-Berthe Aurenche in 1927. The marriage was short-lived.

Although he lived in France, Switzerland, and Germany, he remained connected to the avant-garde movement in Paris. He studied Giorgio de Chirico, who was a major influence on his works.

He began working with the unconscious, or automatic painting, which is defined as painting from the sub-conscious. This technique was central to his Surrealist works.