- Max Ernst was born on April 2, 1891, in Brühl, near Bonn. In 1910 Ernst enrolled at the University of Bonn, where he focused on courses in the history of art, psychology, philosophy, philology, and literature. In the summer and fall of 1912 Ernst was actively engaged with the group of artists around the expressionist painter August Macke and began writing art criticism for the newspaper Volksmund in Bonn. A year later, Ernst exhibited his work for the first time with Macke's group Die Rheinischen Expressionisten in Bonn and at the First German Autumn Salon at Herwarth Walden's Sturm Gallery in Berlin. His early works wrestled with the influence of cubism, futurism, and expressionism. During a visit to the exhibition of the German Association of Craftsmen in Cologne in 1914, Max Ernst met Hans Arp, an encounter that would develop into a meaningful artistic friendship. During a stay in Berlin in early January 1916, he met George Grosz and Wieland Herzfelde. He continued to publish articles on art during the war, including "On the Origins of Color," in Der Sturm, August 1917. On October 17, 1918, a month before the end of the war, Ernst married Luise Amelie Straus, an art historian. Herzfelde was among the guests.
- After the war, Ernst established contacts with emerging socialist and avant-garde art groups in 1918 and 1919 and joined the Society of Arts founded by Karl Nierendorf and connected to the group Der Strom. In the winter of 1919, Ernst collaborated with Johannes Baargeld on Der Ventilator. In the summer of 1919, during a visit to Paul Klee's atelier in Munich, Max Ernst met Zurich Dada members Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings and was exposed to Zurich Dada publications at Goltz's, a gallery and bookstore. Cologne Dada emerged shortly thereafter, its members including Ernst, Baargeld, Hans Arp, Angelika and Heinrich Hoerle, Willy Fick, Anton Räderscheidt, and Franz Seiwert. Ernst and Baargeld organized the exhibition of the 'Bulletin D' group in 1919. The show and The show and the accompanying catalogue constituted the first manifestation of Cologne Dada and caught the attention of artist and collector Katherine Dreier, who then brought news of Bulletin D to Paris. In April 1920, outraged at their exclusion from a jury-free museum exhibition, Baargeld and Ernst rented the courtyard of a pub, the Brauhaus Winter, and mounted their own show, the 'Dada-Vorfrühling' exhibition. In October 1920 Ernst and Arp collaborated on their first FaTaGaGa — short for FAbrikation de Tableaux GAsométriques Garantis. In May 1921 the "Exposition Dada Max Ernst" opened at Au Sans Pareil, Paris, with a catalogue including a preface by André Breton.
- In 1922, unable to secure the necessary papers, Ernst entered France illegally and settled with the Éluards in Paris, leaving behind his wife and son. Subsequently Ernst developed into a major force in the surrealist movement. Max Ernst died on April 1, 1976, in Paris.
- TEXT CREDITS
More extensive is Sabine T. Kriebel, 'Max Ernst', published in Leah Dickerman (ed.), Dada. Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (National Gallery of Art : Washington DC 2005) 470 and online available at Dada biographies: Max Ernst, an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. The article is translated in French and published in Dada / Catalogue publié sous la direction de Laurent Le Bon (Éditions du centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 134.
- Archives and Collections
- Secondary Literature
- IMAGE CREDITS
banner: detail of photo reproduction of Max Ernst's Punching ball or the immortality of Buonarroti, 1920 [Collection Archives of American Art]
- portrait: Retouched portrait Max Ernst from the Katherine S. Dreier papers/Societe Anonyme archive [Collection Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature]