Aus Max Ernst Une Semaine de Bonté, Zweites Heft, L’eau 5, 15,4 x 12,3 cm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008 / Peter Ertl, Wien 2008.


Aus Max Ernst, Une semaine, de bonté, Ein surrealistischer Roman, Detail, Isidore Ducasse Foundation, © Albertina.

Max Ernst's Foray Deep into the Heart of Surrealism: A Week of Kindness

Aus Max Ernst Une Semaine de Bonté, Viertes Heft, Œdipe 25, 15,3 x 11,5 cm, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008 / Peter Ertl, Wien 2008.

Aus Max Ernst Une semaine de bonté, Ein surrealistischer Roman, Isidore Ducasse Foundation, © Albertina.


Albertinaplatz 1
+ 43 1 534 83-0

Max Ernst, Une semaine de bonté
February 16-April 9, 2008

The images of Une semaine de bonté are among the most enigmatic and fascinating manifestations of Surrealism. Linked together with loose and intertwined storylines, they offer opportunity for discovery and interpretation. In these works Ernst found images for dreams, drives, demonic metamorphoses, rites of initiation, transitory moments, and mythical, religious and erotic encounters in which the laws of logic and nature are suspended.

Max Ernst was born April 2, 1891, in Brühl, Germany, near Cologne. In 1909, he enrolled in the University at Bonn to study philosophy but soon abandoned the courses. He began painting that year, never receiving any formal artistic training.

During World War I he served in the German army, a momentous interruption in his career as an artist. He stated in his autobiography, "Max Ernst died the 1st of August, 1914."

After the war, filled with new ideas, Ernst, Jean Arp and social activist Alfred Grünwald, formed the Cologne, Germany Dada group. In 1918 he married the art historian Luise Straus — a stormy relationship that would not last. The couple had a son, 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, experimenting with mixed media.

In 1922, he joined fellow Dadaists André Breton, Gala, Tristan Tzara, Paul Éluard at the artistic community of Montparnasse. In 1925 he invented a graphic art technique called frottage that uses pencil rubbings of objects as an image source.

The next year he collaborated with Joan Miró on designs for Sergei Diaghilev. With Miró's help, Ernst pioneered grattage in which he troweled pigment from his canvases. He explored decalcomania — 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 his sister was born soon after his bird died. Loplop often appeared in collages of other artists' work, such as Loplop presents André Breton. Ernst drew a great deal of controversy with his 1926 painting The Virgin Chastises the infant Jesus before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Éluard, 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. Ernst began to make sculpture in 1934, and spent time with Alberto Giacometti. In 1938, the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim acquired a number of Max Ernst's works that she displayed in her new museum in London.

With the outbreak of World War II, French authorities arrested Max Ernst as a "hostile alien". Thanks to the intercession of Paul Eluard, and other friends including the journalist Varian Fry he was discharged a few weeks later. Soon after the French occupation by the Nazis, the Gestapo arrested him again, this time, he managed to escape and flee to America with the help of artists sponsor Peggy Guggenheim. He left behind his lover, Leonora Carrington, and she suffered a major mental breakdown. Ernst and Guggenheim arrived in the United States in 1941 and were married the following year. Along with other artists and friends (Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall) who had fled from the war and lived in New York City, Ernst helped inspire the development of Abstract expressionism.

His marriage to Guggenheim did not last, and in Beverly Hills, California in October of 1946, in a double ceremony with Man Ray and Juliet Browner, he married Dorothea Tanning. The couple made their home in Sedona, Arizona. In 1948 Ernst wrote the treatise Beyond Painting. As a result, he began to achieve financial success.

In 1953 he and Tanning moved to a small town in the south of France where he continued to work. The City, and the Galeries Nationales du Grand-Palais in Paris published a complete catalogue of his works.

Ernst died on April 1, 1976, in Paris one day before his birthday. He was interred there at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.


Aus Max Ernst Une semaine de bonté, Ein surrealistischer Roman, Isidore Ducasse Foundation, © Albertina.


Max Ernst, Kvinnokroppens islandskap, istappar och stenarter, 1920, © Max Ernst/BUS, 2007.

Max Ernst's Oeuvre, between Dream & Revolution, Europe and World War

Max Ernst, Den imaginära sommaren, 1927,© Max Ernst/BUS 2007.


Moderna Museet
+ 46 8 5195 5200

Max Ernst – Dream and Revolution
September 20, 2008-January 11, 2009

Dadaist, Surrealist, romantic and imaginative genius. Max Ernst was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. The Louisiana’s exhibition is the first major presentation of Max Ernst in Denmark.

Max Ernst was a hypermodern, adaptable artist. Like a vagabond he turned his life into one long journey – constantly renewing his artistic activity and himself. He was always on his way in and out of new modes of exspression, in search of development and change. He never came to a halt with any single style but continued to explore and experiment with art.

According to Max Ernst, an artist should never know what he wants to do, but should continue to investigate and transform his expression. That was why Ernst went on reflecting on the nature of art, and the results were pioneering. Like Picasso and Dalí, Max Ernst could do it ALL.

His visual world is based on unexpected combinations of elements, symbols and techniques. He attacked the traditional views of visual art and questioned everything that had been accepted and formulated before in art. Dream and imagination were given pride of place and brought to life in Max Ernst’s revolutionary, multi-faceted expression.

The exhibition offers a retrospective view of the most important artistic phases in Max Ernst’s work: the Dada years in Cologne, 1918-1922, when he developed the photomontage and collage techniques; his Surrealist period in France until 1941; his experimentation with the frottage technique and psychoanalytical symbolism; the period of exile in the USA in 1941-53, in which decalcomani and the ‘oscillation technique’ are central concerns; theartist’s return to Europe and his late oeuvre, typified by cosmic pictorial worlds and extensive production of prints.

The 200 works in the exhibition range through painting, collage, drawing and sculpture to the special Max Ernst techniques frottage and decalcomani.

Curators are German art historian and leading authority on Max Ernst, Werner Spies, curator Iris Müller-Westermann, Moderna Museet, and curator Kirsten Degel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

The staging of the exhibition has been designed by the team behind the drawing office chezweitz & roseapple from Berlin — Detlef Weitz (architect) and Rose Epple (graphic designer) with Hans Hagemeister and Wolfgang Schneider.

Max Ernst, L´ évadé,© Max Ernst/BUS 2007.


Max Ernst, The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter, 1926, oil on canvas. 196 x 130, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany.