Max Ernst

148. maxernst

Biography

German painter, sculptor, one of the leading advocates of irrationality in art, and an originator of the Automatism movement of Surrealism. His youthful interests were psychiatry and philosophy, but he abandoned his studies at the University of Bonn for painting. Max Ernst attacked the conventions and traditions of art, all the while possessing a thorough knowledge of European art history. He questioned the sanctity of art by creating non-representational works without clear narratives, by making sport of religious icons, and by formulating new means of creating artworks to express the modern condition. Ernst was profoundly interested in the art of the mentally ill as a means to access primal emotion and unfettered creativity. Ernst was one of the first artists to apply Sigmund Freud’s dream theories investigate his deep psyche in order to explore the source of his own creativity. While turning inwards unto himself, Ernst was also tapping into the universal unconscious with its common dream imagery. Interested in locating the origin of his own creativity, Ernst attempted to freely paint from his inner psyche and in an attempt to reach a pre-verbal state of being. Doing so unleashed his primal emotions and revealed his personal traumas, which then became the subject of his collages and paintings. This desire to paint from the sub-conscious, also known as automatic painting was central to his Surrealist works and would later influence the Abstract Expressionists.