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Max Ernst

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Published on May 7, 2012

Max Ernst (2 April 1891 1 April 1976) was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.
After the war, filled with new ideas, Ernst, Jean Arp and social activist Alfred Grünwald, formed the Cologne, Germany Dada group. In 1918 he married the art historian Luise Straus — a stormy relationship that would not last. The couple had a son who was born in 1920, the artist Jimmy Ernst. (Luise died in Auschwitz in 1944.) In 1919 Ernst visited Paul Klee and created paintings, block prints and collages, and experimented with mixed media.

In 1922, he joined fellow Dadaists André Breton, Gala, Tristan Tzara, Paul Éluard at the artistic community of Montparnasse.Constantly experimenting, in 1925 he invented a graphic art technique called frottage, which uses pencil rubbings of objects as a source of images.

The next year he collaborated with Joan Miró on designs for Sergei Diaghilev. With Miró's help, Ernst pioneered grattage in which he troweled pigment from his canvases. He also explored with the technique of decalcomania which involves pressing paint between two surfaces.
Max Ernst's life and career are the subject of Peter Schamoni's 1991 documentary Max Ernst. Dedicated to the art historian Werner Spies, it was assembled from interviews with Ernst, stills of his paintings and sculptures, and the memoirs of his wife Dorothea Tannning and son Jimmy. The 101-minute German film was released on DVD with English subtitles by Image Entertainment.

In 2005, "Max Ernst: A Retrospective" opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and included works such as Celebes (1921), Ubu Imperator (1923), and Fireside Angel (1937), which is one of the few definitively political pieces and is sub-titled The Triumph of Surrealism depicting a raging bird-like creature that symbolizes the wave of fascism that took over Europe. The exhibition also includes Ernst's works that experiment with free association writing and the techniques of frottage, created from a rubbing from a textured surface; grattage, involving scratching at the surface of a painting; and decalcomania, which involves altering a wet painting by pressing a second surface against it and taking it away.

Ernst's son Jimmy, a well known German/American abstract expressionist painter, who lived on the south shore of Long Island, died in 1984. His memoirs, A Not-So-Still Life, were published shortly before his death. His grandson Eric and granddaughter Amy are both artists and writers.
[from Wikipedia]

Music by:Erik Satie

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