“… in 1919, Ernst had witnessed the

“… Max Ernst was a provocateur, a shocking and innovative artist who mined his unconscious for dreamlike imagery that mocked social conventions.”-  A quote from “The Art Story” A brief biography: Ernst was born on April 2nd, 1891- Bruhl, Germany – he died on April 1st, 1976 in Paris, France His father was the first to show him how to paint, as he was fascinated with academic art- he was extremely strict on Ernst Ernst never received any other forms of teaching in art (painting), adding to the creativity and immense innovation shown in his artwork, as he had not gotten any training or teaching in technique and styleErnst’s childhood would greatly influence his artistic technique and context/motives- his paintings often were representations of his childhood imagination; he put onto a canvas the fantasy world of his imagination as a child He decided to become a painter in 1912He was very fascinated in unorthodox, new kinds of work- he was especially interested in psychology, and mental illness He was called upon to serve in the army in WWI Returning from war in 1919, Ernst had witnessed the horrors of war- he was relatively traumatized, and emotionally affected by the period of time that he had served Ernst went on to move to Cologne, and found a Dada group Movements: Ernst worked as part of the Dada and Surrealism movements Dadaism was a movement in a sort of revolution against the norms of society (like materialism and nationalism) Originating in Zurich, Switzerland, Dadaism was a great influence to the cities of Berlin, New York, Paris, Hanover, and Cologne, where Ernst created a Dada group Surrealism described a movement on which artists focused on the human psyche and the subconscious mind Painting Technique: In some of his works, oil paint would be applied thickly onto the canvas as Ernst painted- and then large, wooden planks would be pressed down onto the canvas for a smooth surfaceErnst would then go on to scrape and scratch at the paint on the canvas- these works he called grattages Another technique used by Ernst was called decalcomaniaErnst would apply paint onto the canvas, and then shake it , running the paint down the canvas- he would then press a glass sheet onto it Frottage, another of Ernst’s techniques, consisted of the tracing of leaves/course canvas/wooden floorboards by using a sheet of paper to place over them, and lightly rubbing a pencil with soft lead over the paper This technique would result in the appearances of animals/heads/plants etc. on his works Key Themes/Ideas: Ernst rebelled against the conventions of art- at the time, art was known to have a clear context, was to be straightforward and conventional, and was often tied into religionErnst challenged these conventions by making humor out of religions, creating new techniques and styles, and expressing his challenges towards society and the world through his art He was fascinated by the mentally illHe believed that mental illness allowed one to access primal emotions and creativity that is unaffected by outside influences- that originates in the mind of a person Ernst investigated his own psyche, specifically his unconscious, by use of Sigmund Freud’s dream theory- this influenced his art greatly, as he often used his dreams/subconscious imagery as inspirations for his art Context: Inspiration for this work came from the defeat of the Republicans by Franco’s fascist regime during the Spanish Civil War- it was uncommon for Ernst to inspire his works off of politics, and this is one of the rare works that was directly inspired by the political climate at his time Ernst was trying to convey a message about the chaotic atmosphere spreading across Europe at the time, and the unrest he felt over it The title of “The Fireside Angel” was Ernst’s “trick” on any viewers of his art. The title, naming the creature in the painting as an angel, was meant to make viewers question their interpretations of angels, and the naming of monsters as angelsAnalysis: The element of color is used in this work to emphasize chaos and disruption- Ernst uses many different colors  (bright, dull, light, dark) in a way that might add to the sense of chaos depicted in the painting Space: an element of space is used here as well- a small mountain can be seen behind the “angel”, creating the idea that the creature is gigantic- this may tie into Ernst’s inspiration for the piece (context), as he felt that the chaos spreading throughout Europe was overruling everything, and that it was spreading everywhere as a great “presence” Contemporary of Max Ernst: The work of Cindy Sherman was very different in composition and in appearance- she used photography as her medium, while Max Ernst used painting (mainly) as a medium. In context, though, their art is relatively similar. Sherman’s art is similar to that of Ernst in the sense that they both focused on social norms, and the rebellion against/challenging them. Sherman’s work is focused on feminism and challenges the portrayals and “gender roles” of women in media and in society- she questions the norms, and uses her photography to show her opinion of society’s views Context: This work was meant to simulate the commonly seen “damsel in distress” in media- this was created/depicted by Sherman in her wearing of a schoolgirl uniform, avoiding eye contact with the camera, and the matted, wet hair to achieve a distressed, helpless, and fearful look. Lighting/Shadow: Sherman uses a cool, blue light to emphasize the fearful state of the “girl” in the photo. Darkness spreads in the background, further emphasizing the theme of distress and fear This photo perfectly shows how Sherman uses her art to depict the common interpretation of women in society- weak, helpless, in need of saving

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