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Mr. Burgher's Art Facts

Max Ernst

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Max Ernst: April 2,1891-April 1,1976...Germany / France

"Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. All good ideas arrive by chance."
~ Max Ernst

One of the most unique painters that we study in all of art history is Max Ernst. All of what he knew about art came from his father, Philipp Ernst, who was a teacher and amateur painter. Although he had no formal training, it is obvious that he had a high level of skill and technique. What he did study was philosophy, psychology, and art history at the University of Bonn in Germany. It was there that he became interested in painting. He enjoyed experimenting with different styles and processes. But painting would have to wait.

When World War I got going, Ernst was drafted into the Nazi Army, where he was a field artillery soldier throughout the war. With the war over he could refocus on his art career full time. He became involved with a group of Dada artists in Cologne, Germany. In 1922, following Dada leader André Breton, Ernst and many others made Paris, France their art center. Two years later Breton published the first Surrealist Manifesto and Surrealism was born. Ernst was literally one of the first to become truly Surrealist. He joined because he believed in the idea of creation they promoted, even though he not like being associated with groups or being categorized.

Through the Dada and Surrealist stages, Ernst worked in several media. He worked in primarily two-dimensional media like: painting, drawing, and collage. As Surrealism grew, it became more political. For whatever reason, Surrealists became Communist. Ernst did not care a whole lot for Communism, so he withdrew form a lot of what they were doing, but was still working as a true Surrealist. Because he was a German citizen, when World War II broke out, he was arrested by the French for being a "hostile alien,” but was released a few weeks later. When the Nazis occupied France he was again arrested. This time by the Gestapo. He somehow managed to escape, and with the help of Peggy Guggenheim, fled to the United States. He and Peggy were married and lived in New York. After their divorce he moved to Arizona. In the United States he diversified his media to include sculpture. But soon he got home sick (and sick of American women).

At the end of his life, Ernst wanted to move back to Europe. In 1953 he moved back to France. There he began form the start, working in an early Dada style. Almost like a Dada April Fools Day joke, Ernst died one day before his eighty-fifth birthday.

Mr. Mike Burgher * PO Box 247 * Dallas Center, Iowa. 50063