Born in Brühl, Germany, Max Ernst originally enrolled to study philosophy at the University of Bonn in 1909, but soon abandoned this pursuit to concentrate on art. In 1911, Ernst befriended August Macke and joined the Rheinische Expressionisten. In 1913, Ernst met Guillaume Apollinaire and Robert Delaunay, subsequently travelling to Paris. There, he met Jean Arp, who became a lifelong friend. After the First World War, in which he had to do military service, Ernst founded the Cologne Dada movement in 1918. However, by early 1921 Ernst was exhibiting in Paris and was soon involved with Surrealist activities with Paul Éluard and André Breton. Ernst executed his first frottages in 1925 and the following year collaborated with Joan Miró on designs for Sergei Diaghilev. In 1930, Ernst collaborated with Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel on the film L'Age d'or.


Ernst’s first American show was held at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, in 1932. Four years later, he was represented in Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1939, he was interned in France as an enemy alien. Two years later Ernst fled to the United States with Peggy Guggenheim, whom he married early in 1942. After their divorce, he 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 traveled in modified form to the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, in 1975. He died on April 1, 1976, in Paris.


A pioneering Dada and Surrealist artist, Ernst’s work features in numerous major international collections, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.


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