(German, April 2, 1891–April 1, 1976) was a German painter, graphic artist, and sculptor who was one of the early pioneers of Surrealism and the Dada movement. Ernst was born in Brühl, near Cologne, Germany, and he was the third child in a family of nine children. Ernst''s father was an amateur painter and the young boy was exposed to art at a tender age. Ernst enrolled in the University of Bonn to study diverse subjects like literature, art history, psychology, psychiatry, and philosophy.
After several visits to asylum institutions, Ernst became interested in the kind of art the mental illness patients were producing, and he even began painting the same years. In 1911, Ernst joined Die Rheinischen Expressionisten
after becoming friends with August Macke
(German, 1987–1914), who was one of the leaders of the group. A year later, he visited Cologne, and was influenced by the works of Pablo Picasso
(Spanish, 1881–1973) and other Post-Impressionists of the time. Ernst met Hans Arp
(German-French, 1886–1966) in Cologne, and the two developed a friendship that was to last for the next fifty years. He served in the First World War, which affected him just as it did other artists of the time.
Ernst tended to produce works with Freudian metaphors, mythology, and memories from his childhood. A favorite theme of his was painting a birdlike creature with human-like characteristics
(1973–1974) is an example of this type of work. In 1915, the artist went to Munich, met Paul Klee
(Swiss, 1879–1940), and studied the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico
(Italian, 1888–1978). It was also in this same year that made his first collages, such as Fiat Modes
. Ernst, together with some of his friends and Johannes Theodor Baargeld
(German, 1892–1927), founded the Dada Cologne chapter, and together they published a few magazines such as Der Strom
for a few years.
In 1922, Ernst entered France illegally after failing to get the required documents. For a brief period in 1924, Ernst visited Monaco and Saigon, Vietnam, before returning to Paris, France, opening a studio a year later at 22, rue Tourlaque. Ernst was arrested by the Gestapo in 1939, but he escaped and fled, arriving in the United States in 1941. His treatise Beyond Painting
was published in 1948, but he did not stay in the United States for long; he moved to the South of France in 1953.
Ernst''''''''''''''''s works can be found in places such as Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain, Tate Gallery, London, England, and Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Ernst died in Paris, France on April 1, 1976.