Ernest Pignon-Ernest was born in 1942 in Nice, France. He lives and works in Paris, where he wanders the nights to spread his urban art.
Alongside Daniel Buren and Gérard Zlotykamien, Ernest-Pignon Ernest has made his mark as one of the founding fathers of street art. With charcoal or black chalk, he sketches human-sized silhouettes on posters that he then pastes. Working with notched erasers of different sizes, he refines shadows and gives his portraits realism and depth. The artist also attaches great importance to the fact that his artistic creation must be visually integrated into its context. His human figures generate face-to-face encounters with passers-by.
Throughout his life, Pignon-Ernest has defended major societal causes and became politically and artistically involved. In 1977, he was one of the founders of the National Union of Plastic Artists, and a member of the French Communist Party. His journeys and travels led him to face horror scenes. He was struck by the apocalypse that marked Nagasaki and whose walls retain their imprint; he saw shadows left under the impact of the shock. Later, it was in South Africa that he witnessed the extent of the devastation caused by AIDS in parallel with the country’s struggle against apartheid. Pignon-Ernest manages to capture the horror and the beauty of the world, sometimes inside the same work.
In addition to his street art, Pignon-Ernest has been exhibited in several solo exhibitions, including those at Complesso Museale del Purgatorio ad Arco (Naples, Italy, 2019), the Botanique (Brussels, 2018-2019), the Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain (Nice, France, 2016) and Art Bärtschi & Cie (2016). Group exhibitions include the Monnaie de Paris (France, 2019), the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille (France, 2013), the Galerie Guy Bärtschi (2013), the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (Rijeka, Croatia, 2013), the Daniel and Florence Guerlain Foundation (Les Mesnuls, France) and the MNAM – Centre Pompidou (Paris, 1996). His drawings and paintings are part of several public and private collections, such as the Maeght Foundation (France), MNAM – Centre Georges Pompidou (France), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (France) and MaMac (Nice, France).