(American/German, 1920–1984), born Hans Ulrich Ernst in Cologne, Germany, was the son of Surrealist Max Ernst
and a prominent figure in the New York avant-garde in the mid-20th century. He studied printing and typography before immigrating to the United States in 1938 to escape the Nazis. He began working at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY, in 1941, and later went on to work for Peggy Guggenheim. In 1943, he opened the Norlyst Gallery with Eleanor Lust, where he began to show his own work, including the painting The Flying Dutchman
. He became increasingly involved in the New York art community, and became a member of The Irascibles group in 1950 with artists such as Willem de Kooning
and Jackson Pollock
, who were questioning The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s bias against the burgeoning Abstract Expressionist movement.
During his time in New York, Ernst experimented with the Surrealist method of automatism, and eventually developed his own technique called sifflage, which involved blowing viscous paint over a canvas. He was also becoming increasingly interested in jazz music and improvisation. His method of sifflage, combined with his interest in jazz music, was exemplified in his paintings Blues from Chicago
Ernst went on to work at various institutions such as the University of Colorado in Denver, starting in 1954, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX, and Brooklyn College in New York. In 1980, he started his last major work, the Sea of Grass
series, which was influenced by the landscape of his home in Florida. In 1983, he became a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He passed away on February 6, 1984, in New York. His memoir, A Not-So-Still-Life
, was published the same year.