Max Ernst: Retrospective
Text by Raphael Bouvier, Julia Drost, Gisela Fischer, Phillippe-Alain Michaud, Jürgen Pech, Werner Spies, Adrian Sudhalter, Ralph Ubl, Gabriele Wix.
Painter, sculptor, graphic artist and poet Max Ernst was one of the most versatile artists of the modern era. Starting out as a Dadaist in Cologne, Ernst soon became, in Paris, a pioneer not only of Surrealism but also of such techniques as collage (he invented the collage novel), frottage and grattage. Even later, as a perpetual innovator of figures, forms and techniques, Ernst was continually reorienting and revitalizing his art. In the process he created a huge body of work, whose abiding motif was the bird: an alter-ego he named Loplop. Ernst’s ingenuity and inventiveness in handling dream imagery, the sudden breaks that mark the numerous phases of his work and his constant exploration of techniques all conspire to confound summation of his oeuvre. This career overview--published to coincide with a major retrospective at the Albertina in Vienna, traveling to the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basel--presents the full wealth of Ernst’s multifaceted oeuvre in a selection of more than 150 paintings, drawings, collages and sculptures, alongside illustrated books and other documents. With more than 250 color reproductions, the catalogue also makes visible and explicates Ernst’s working processes, as he seems effortlessly to combine references to the past with the political events of his time and a prophetic, visionary view of the future.
Max Ernst (1891–1976) was born near Cologne. While studying at the University of Bonn he became fascinated with the art of mental patients, and through an early friendship with Hans Arp, joined the Dada movement. In 1921 he befriended André Breton, moving to Paris and cofounding Surrealism. With the Nazi invasion of France in 1939, Ernst fled to America with the assistance of Peggy Guggenheim, only returning to France in 1953 with his third wife, Dorothea Tanning. He died in Paris in 1976.