| Ernst, Max Biography
German painter, sculptor, one of the leading advocates of irrationality in art, and an originator of the Automatism movement of Surrealism. His youthful interests were psychiatry and philosophy, but he abandoned his studies at the University of Bonn for painting.
After serving in the German army during World War I, Max Ernst was converted to Dada, a nihilistic art movement, and formed a group of Dada artists in Cologne; with the artist-poet Jean Arp, he edited journals and created a scandal by staging a Dada exhibit in a public rest room. In 1922 he moved to Paris. There he turned to surrealism, becoming a founding member ofthe Surrealists, a group of artists and writers whose work grew out of fantasies evoked from the unconscious. To stimulate the flow of imagery from his unconscious mind, Ernst began in 1925 to use the techniques of frottage (pencil rubbings of such things as wood grain, fabric, or leaves) and decalcomania (the technique of transferring paint from one surface to another by pressing the two surfaces together). Contemplating the accidental patterns and textures resulting from these techniques, he allowed free association to suggest images and in many oil paintings such as The Great Forest (1927) and The Temptation of St. Anthony (1945). These vast, swamplike landscapes stem ultimately from the tradition of nature mysticism of the German Romantics.
At the outbreak of World War II, Ernst moved to the United States, where he joined his third wife, the collector and art gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim. After his return to France in 1949, his work became less experimental.
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