Max Ernst and The Surrealist Revolution
After the war, filled with new ideas, Max Ernst, Jean Arp and social activist Alfred GrÃ¼nwald formed the Cologne, Germany Dada
group. In 1918 he married the art historian Luise Strausâ€”a stormy
relationship that would not last. The couple had a son who was born in
1920, the artist Jimmy Ernst. (Luise died in Auschwitz in 1944.) In 1919 Ernst visited Paul Klee and created paintings, block prints and collages, and experimented with mixed media.
In 1922, he joined fellow Dadaists AndrÃ© Breton, Gala, Tristan Tzara, and Paul Ã‰luard at the artistic community of Montparnasse. Constantly experimenting, in 1925 he invented a graphic art technique called frottage (see Surrealist techniques), which uses pencil rubbings of objects as a source of images.
He also created another technique called 'grattage'
in which paint is scraped across canvas to reveal the imprints of the
objects placed beneath. He uses this technique in his famous painting
'Forest and Dove' (as shown at the Tate Modern).
The next year he collaborated with Joan MirÃ³ on designs for Sergei Diaghilev. With MirÃ³'s help, Ernst pioneered grattage in which he troweled pigment from his canvases. He also explored with the technique of decalcomania which involves pressing paint between two surfaces.
Ernst developed a fascination with birds that was prevalent in his work. His alter ego in paintings, which he called Loplop,
was a bird. He suggested this alter-ego was an extension of himself
stemming from an early confusion of birds and humans. He said that one
night when he was young he woke up and found that his beloved bird had
died, and a few minutes later his father announced that his sister was
born. Loplop often appeared in collages of other artists' work, such as
Loplop presents AndrÃ© Breton. Ernst drew a great deal of controversy with his 1926 painting The Virgin Chastises the infant Jesus before Three Witnesses: AndrÃ© Breton, Paul Ã‰luard, and the Painter.
In 1927 he married Marie-Berthe Aurenche, and it is thought his
relationship with her may have inspired the erotic subject matter of The Kiss and other works of this year. In 1930, he appeared in the film L'Ã‚ge d'Or, directed by self-identifying Surrealist Luis BuÃ±uel. Ernst began to make sculpture in 1934, and spent time with Alberto Giacometti. In 1938, the American heiress and artistic patron Peggy Guggenheim
acquired a number of Max Ernst's works which she displayed in her new
museum in London. Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim were also married to one
another from 1942 to 1946.