About Jimmy Ernst

Jimmy Ernst photo
Jimmy Ernst

Hans-Ulrich Ernst, later known as "Jimmy," was born to Dada and Surrealist artist Max Ernst, and art historian and journalist Louise Straus-Ernst, who divorce when Jimmy is two. Max moves to Paris, as he and his mother remain in Cologne. Raised in an artistic milieu, as anti-Semitism rises after Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany, Louise forced to flee to Paris while Jimmy stays in Germany with grandparents. Apprentices with publisher Hans Augustin, near Hamburg. In 1937, on a trip to Paris he sees Picasso’s Guernica which moves him to perceive an artist’s role as an agent of change. In 1938 Augustin gets Jimmy visa and passage to the United States, where he discovers Hopi rituals, jazz, and science. Works at the Museum of Modern Art mailroom and paints at night. Befriends members of the avant-garde, notably, William and Ethel Baziotes. Attends the 1941 lectures on surrealism by Gordon Onslow Ford at the New School of Social Research.

Max Ernst arrives in the U.S. with Peggy Guggenheim. His mother does not survive the war. Guggenheim opens her gallery Art of This Century with Jimmy as director. With Eleanor Lust opens Norlyst Gallery in 1943, which also hosts three solo shows by Ernst. MoMA purchases a painting, The Flying Dutchman. Ernst integrates and bridges the two major influences of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, infused with the painstaking detail he learned as a typesetter. His work will be marked by an almost obsessively intricate grid of lines, under which one discerns forms and shapes. In 1984, he dies shortly after his autobiography, A Not So Still Life, is published.