Max Ernst was born in 1891, in Bruhl, Germany. In 1909, he went to the University of Bonn to study philosophy, but soon made the decision to abandon his degree and start painting. In 1911, Ernst met August Macke and became a member of the Rheinische Expressionisten group. Ernst first exhibited at the Galerie Feldman, Cologne in 1912. In 1913, he participated in the Erste deutsche Herbstsalon.
Though military service throughout World War I hindered his production, Ernst was able to exhibit in Berlin at Der Sturm in 1916. Returning to Cologne in 1918, he founded the Cologne Dada movement with Johannes Theodor Baargeld; and started producing his collages. In 1921, Ernst exhibited for the first time in Paris, at the Galerie au Sans Pareil. He was involved in Surrealist activities in the early 1920s with Paul Eluard and André Breton. In 1925 he invented a graphic technique which used pencil rubbings of objects to create images. These “frottages” were published in his book Histoire naturelle in 1926. The same year saw his collaboration with Joan Miró on designs for Sergei Diaghilev. Together they pioneered the “grattage” technique, in which pigment is troweled from the canvas. Ernst’s collage-novel, La Femme 100 têtes, was published in 1929 and the year after he embarked on a film collaboration with Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel.
The Julien Levy Gallery, New York hosted his first American exhibition in 1932. In 1936, Ernst was represented in Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and, in 1938, Peggy Guggenheim acquired a number of his works. Interned as an enemy alien, in 1941 he fled France to USA with Guggenheim and married her the following year. The marriage did not last, and in 1953 Ernst married Dorothea Tanning and in 1953 resettled in France. Ernst received the Grand Prize for painting at the Venice Biennale in 1954, and in 1975, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum gave him a major retrospective, which then travelled to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris.
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