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Jimmy Ernst

Jimmy Ernst (1920-1984) was born in Cologne, Germany, the child of the Surrealist artist Max Ernst (1891-1976) and the art historian and journalist Louise Straus-Ernst. In 1938, just before the escalation of World War II, Jimmy received a visa to come to the United States. His father joined him in New York, where he secured a job at the Museum of Modern Art in 1941 and later with the influential curator and collector Peggy Guggenheim. He was a key member of the first wave of the New York School, a group of Abstract Expressionist artists, and was part of the “Irascible Eighteen” in the 1951 cover photo of Life Magazine protesting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rejection of abstraction. In the 1940s, influenced by Surrealist automatism, where the artist suspends conscious control over his medium, Ernst developed a technique of automatic painting called “sifflage.” This technique involved blowing oil paint over the surface of the canvas into a web-like network of thin lines. Jimmy Ernst also drew inspiration from jazz music and frequently left New York to attend shows in Kansas City and New Orleans. His works are held by major museums in the United States and Europe. He practiced watercolor painting, oil painting, drawing with ink and working with mixed media.

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