Europe after the Rain II: 1945
Max Ernst: 1891 – 1976
Max Ernst was a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A very prolific artist, Ernst was one of the key pioneers of the Dada movement in and Surrealism movement in modern art.
Ernst was born on April 2, 1891, in Brühl Germany. He was the third of nine children of a middle-class Catholic family. His father Philipp Ernst was a teacher of the deaf and dumb and an amateur painter.
Ernst’s is life was interrupted by World War I. Max Ernst served both on the Western and the Eastern front. The devastating effect of the war is evident in his work.
Luckily, whilst on the Western Front, Ernst's job in the army was charting maps, which enabled him to paint.
In 1941-1945 Ernst lived in New York. He shared his knowledge and experience with younger American artists, thus becoming an influence in American Modern Art.
The work of this American period is entitled: Europe After the Rain II, 1940-42, Day and Night, 41/42, The Eye of Silence, 43/44; Vox Angelica, 1945; and The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1945.
There is grattage and frottage technique in this piece. Grattage or frottage was invented by Ernst. Grattage is a surrealist technique in painting in which dry paint is scraped off the canvas. Frottage is the French word for rubbing. Ernst was inspired by an ancient wooden floor where the grain of the planks had been heightened by years of scrubbing. The patterns of the grain were surreal images. He laid sheets of paper on the floor and rubbed over them with a pencil.
He went on to use a wide range of textured surfaces and adapted the technique to oil painting, naming it grattage (or scraping in English). In grattage the canvas is prepared with a layer or more of paint then laid over the textured object which is in turn scraped over.
These techniques are perfect for the kind of visual effect found in this painting. The painting scrapes and tears shapes directly off the canvas. The effect suggests a landscape created by a violent act of powerful unstoppable destructive energy.
Europe After the Rain II became a model for the unstoppable rain of destruction that was left behind in Europe during and after both World Wars. Two human figures stand amidst the rubble and ruins and the surreal shapes surrounding them mirror their memories of their peaceful life before the war.