After completing his baccalaureate at the lycée in Brühl, Ernst studied philosophy from 1909 to 1914 at the University of Bonn. He became friends with the painter August Macke, the poet J.T. Kuhleman and members of the Young Rhineland group, and began to paint. During the First World War, while serving in the artillery, he did a few watercolors. In 1919, with Arp and J.T. Baargeld, he participated in Dadaist activities in Cologne, and founded the Centrale Dada W/3, organizing a Dada group exhibition and publishing Der Ventilator, which was distributed at factory exits. That same year, he published an album of lithographs, Fiat Modes, and discovered collage. In May 1920 his exhibition in Paris at Galerie Au Sans Pared, organized by Breton and Tzara, was a sensational event. In 1922 Ernst settled in Paris where he supported himself by making trinkets for a factory that produced cheap junk items. Participating in the formation of the surrealist group, he was especially close to Paul Éluard, with whom he wrote Les Malheurs des lmmortels (1922). Ernst also painted the interior of Éluard's house at Saint-Brice and, in 1924, joined him toward the end of his trip in Indochina. On August 25, 1925 he developed a technique involving rubbing and scraping with graphite that he called frottage, which inspired the book Histoire naturelle (1926) and many stunning canvases. In 1926, with Miró, he created the sets and costumes for Diaghilev's production of Romeo and Juliet. Ernst developed the collage-novel, with his La Femme 100 têtes (1929) and Une Semaine de bonté (1934). In 1936 he began making large works using the transfer process, decalcomania (La Nymphe Écho, Museum of Modern Art, New York) and was represented with forty-eight works at the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, in New York. In 1938, after creating the sets for Ubu Enchaîné at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées, in Paris, he withdrew to a house at Saint-Martin-d'Ardèche with the artist Leonora Carrington. In 1939-40 he was interned as a German national for a brief time in various concentration camps in the South of France. In 1941 Ernst left for the United States where he married Peggy Guggenheim and won a painting com-petition on the theme of the Temptation of Saint Anthony. He met Dorothea Tanning, whom he married in 1946, and built a house in Sedona, Arizona, where they lived together. There he painted microscopic gouaches, the Microbes, made sculptures and many brightly colored paintings. Ernst returned to Europe in 1949, and in 1950 had exhibitions in Paris at Galerie René and the Château de Brühl. In 1952, Ernst traveled to Hawaii, where he lectured at the University of Honolulu. He was awarded Grand Prize at the Venice Biennial of 1954, which precipitated his rejection by the surrealists. In 1955 Ernst settled permanently at Huismes in the Touraine region of France and became a French citizen. At this time, he described his work thus: "Being seditious, uneven, contradictory, it is unacceptable for specialists of art of culture of behavior of logic of morals. On the other hand, it has the gift of delighting my accomplices: poets, pataphysicians, a few illiterates." In the end, he was accepted by everyone: with retrospectives at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in 1959, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1961. With the inauguration, in 1968, of his Fountaine d'Ambroise and the official celebration of his eightieth birthday, in 1971, at the Musée de l'Orangerie, Max Ernst saw his international reputation continually expand.
Born 1891 in Brühl, Rhineland; died 1976 in Paris.