Max Ernst (Surrealist Artist)

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2015-06-26 10:39:23

Max Ernst was an influential German surrealist artist.

Brief biography of artist

Max Ernst (born 2nd April 1891) was a German artist and a pioneer of the Surrealism movement. Ernst was born into a middle class family of nine children in the town of Bruhl, Germany. Learning his craft from his father, Ernst received no formal art training, instead studying philosophy and psychology at the University of Bonn.

Graduating in 1914, he subsequently spent four years serving in the German Army. His experiences during the first world war had a profound effect on Ernst later in life, both artistically and personally. Returning to Germany after the war, he cultivated close links with the Parisian avant-garde movement and became the godfather of the Dada art movement, which in itself served as precursor to surrealism.

Ernst succeeded in establishing great success in France, the United States and his native Germany during his lifetime. He may today be more famous amongst art critics than the general public, yet he was still widely influential in the formation of mid-century art movements, particularly Abstract Expressionism. Ernst died in Paris on 1st April 1976.

Guide for collectors

Ernst worked in a variety of artistic mediums, amongst them painting, sculpture and collage. His work has sold, frequently for high prices, at many of the best-known auctioneers, amongst them Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and final sale prices are often dependent upon the condition of the piece rather than it’s fame.

On 6th May 2011, a limited edition Max Ernst bronze sculpture sold from Rome & Associates for $850, whilst Ernst’s ‘La Parisienne’ bronze sculpture sold at the same auction for $700. An untilted piece by Ernst was auctioned on 28th June 2005 from Bloomsbury Auctions for £280, and ‘Foret et Soleil’, a lithograph from 1956, was sold from Clars Auction Gallery for $600 on 5th March 2006.

Most expensive work

The current record for the most expensive Max Ernst painting is The Stolen Mirror. Regarded as one of Ernst’s finest works, it is painted in oil on canvas and features a dreamy landscape flanked by two disjointed figures on the opposite sides of the painting. Created in 1941, during a period of prolific artistic output by the painter, The Stolen Mirror sold from Christie’s Auction House for $16,322,500 on 1st November 2011.

Most famous works

Ernst’s most famous piece is arguably the painting ‘Two Children Are Threatened By A Nightingale’, which he intended to demonstrate a panic-induced state which people suppress out of necessity in their everyday lives; Ernst suggested the inspiration for the painting came from a vivid hallucination. The painting was created in 1924, the year the Surrealism movement was formed, and includes a red-wooden gate jutting from the surface of the painting, opening onto a piece dominated by an abundance of seemingly-calm blue sky, under which a chaotic scene occurs; Ernst came to refer to the work as “a farewell to a technique”, stating it marked the end of many of the artistic strategies he and other Dada artists had used. The painting is currently in residence at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.

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