Max Ernst (1891-1976) was born in Germany, near Cologne. In 1909 he studied Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Bonn but he showed a greater inclination towards painting and he started to exhibit in group shows. In 1914 Ernst was drafted to the military and spent four years fighting in the German army. This was to have a lasting effect on his work, particularly through his depiction of the absurdities of war.
On returning to Germany, Ernst became a leader of the Dada movement in Cologne, before settling in Paris in 1922 as a founding member of the Surrealist movement. Ernst was a pioneer of the frottage technique whereby a piece of paper is placed over a rough substance and rubbed over with pencil to obtain the textured quality of the surface beneath. This ‘art of the subconscious’ paved the way for new generations of artists, notably Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists.
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