Max Ernst (1891 – 1976), German-born painter and sculptor, who was prominent in the Dada and surrealist movements. He was born in Bruhl, near Cologne, on April 2, 1891. While studying philosophy at the University of Bonn he taught himself to paint. Between 1910 and his induction into the army at the outbreak of World War I (1914) his work reflected current expressionist and cubist styles. After the war Ernst was a founder of a Dada group in Cologne. He then moved to Paris (1922), becoming a founding member of the surrealist movement in 1924.
During this period Ernst developed a number of special techniques in order, as he put it, “to push back appearances and upset the relations of realities . . . to hasten the general crisis of consciousness due in our time.” Of particular importance were collage and frottage, or “pastings” and “rubbings.” With the former he created a series of hallucinatory images—dream novels— of remarkable power, including La Femme 100 tetes (1929). Using frottage, which was considered a pictorial equivalent of surrealist automatic writing, he made rubbings from heavily textured surfaees forming images that suggested mysterious landscapes or animals. With a variation of this tecîmique, decalcomania, Ernst painted some of his greatest pictures, among them Totem and Taboo (1941; Collection of William Copley), Europe After the Rain (1942; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford), and Mundus est Fabula (1959; Museum of Modern Art, New York.) Ernst also worked as a sculptor.