Born. 02.04.1891 in Brühl
Died. 01.04.1976 in Paris
German painter, graphic artist, sculptor, Abstract Expressionist
About the artist
Max Ernst was born on 2 April 1891 in Brühl, Germany. After graduating from high school, he studied at the University of Bonn from 1910 to 1914. It was while he was studying the writings of Sigmund Freud in psychology that he became involved with the art of the mentally ill.
He often visited the museum in Cologne and was interested in German Romanticism In 1911 he became friends with August Macke, who with his friends, encouraged him to become an artist. One year later, he held his first exhibition at the Feldmann Gallery in Cologne.
In 1912/1913 Max Ernst wrote art and theater reviews for the Bonn Volksmund for one year and in 1913 exhibited at the Rheinische Expressionisten in Bonn as well as having two of his works exhibited at the First German Autumn Salon in Berlin.
During WWI, Ernst served as a soldier in France and Poland. On his return to Germany, just before the war ended, he married the art historian and university friend, Luise Straus on 7 October 1918. He saw his war years as a period of death and was happy to feel reborn after it had ended.
Ernst founded the Cologne Dada group in 1919 with Johannes Baargeld and Hans Arp. In 1922 he left his wife and son behind and moved to Paris, where he became one of the most important members of the Surrealist movement. At the beginning of World War II, he was interned in France but escaped with art patron Peggy Guggenheim, later his third wife. In 1941 he went to the U.S. to escape the war and returned to France in 1953 with his fourth wife Dorothea Tanning.
In 1955, the couple moved out of Paris to their country house “Le pin perdu” in Huismes. He kept this country residence as well as the apartment in Paris, but for health reasons, he often stayed with his wife in the south of France in Seillans in the Var department in Provence.
He became a French citizen in 1958 and refused an honorary citizenship that his native city of Brühl had offered him in 1966 on his 75th birthday due to the way the city had dealt with Karl Seibt, the city co-organizer of the financially loss-making Max Ernst exhibition of 1951. The dispute between the artist and his hometown lasted for twenty years. Since the reconciliation, the city has awarded the art prize “Max Ernst Stipendium” to upcoming young artists, and Ernst donated the figures for the fountain, which stands in front of the town hall.
Max Ernst died on 1 April 1976 in Paris.