Ernst Kris

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Ernst Walter Kris (* 26. April 1900 in Vienna , Austria-Hungary ; † 27. February 1957 in New York ) was a from Austria originating American art historian and psychoanalyst and representatives of psychoanalytic ego psychology .


Ernst Kris - son of the Jewish lawyer Leopold Kris and his wife Rosa Kris, b. Schick - attended the state high school in the 13th district of Vienna. As a result of the First World War , he was able to attend art history lectures at the University of Vienna as a pupil . Together with his friends Otto Kurz and Ernst Gombrich , Kris studied art history with Julius von Schlosser from autumn 1918 , where he received his doctorate in 1922 with a dissertation on the use of natural casts by Wenzel Fannitzer and Bernhard Palissyden . Kris was also a student of the archaeologist Emanuel Loewy , a friend of Sigmund Freud . After graduating, Kris worked as a curator in the Department of Sculpture and Applied Arts at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna .

Kris' fiancee Marianne Rie (born May 27, 1900 - November 23, 1980) was friends with Anna Freud until her death . Her father Oskar Rie was a pediatrician and friends with the Freud family. Because Marianne Rie completed a psychoanalysis in Berlin after completing her medical degree , Freud also recommended a training analysis to the fiancé , which he did with Helene Deutsch in Vienna from 1924 to 1927 . In 1927 Ernst Kris and Marianne Rie married. In 1928 the two became extraordinary members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association .

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: Eagle cameo, Roman 27 BC Chr.

In addition to his job at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Kris opened a psychoanalytical practice where he treated his patients before nine in the morning and after six in the morning. Kris also taught as a training analyst from 1930 to 1938 at the Psychoanalytical Institute in Vienna. The Metropolitan Museum of Art commissioned Kris in 1929 to compile a catalog of cameos and gems . From 1932 Kris worked as an editor for Imago magazine together with Robert Wälder . In 1933 he published an article about the sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt .

After the annexation of Austria on March 12, 1938, Ernst Kris had to emigrate to London with his family . There he worked for the BBC on a scientific analysis of Nazi propaganda . In 1940 Kris was sent to Canada and later to the United States in this capacity . In September 1940, the New School for Social Research appointed him professor, and it was here that he and Hans Speier set up a research program for totalitarian propaganda. In New York he became a member and training analyst of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Kris began to be interested in the child's development and led a longitudinal study of early childhood at Yale University's Child Study Center . He was on the editorial board of the journal The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child . At the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, together with Yale University, he initiated the Gifted Adolescence Project, which enabled gifted young people with mental health problems to undergo psychoanalysis. "

Kris' best-known book among art historians is The Legend of the Artist , written together with Otto Kurz , in which common anecdotes and mythologies about artist personalities are examined and recognized as fictions. He often worked with Ernst Gombrich in both Vienna and London .

"With his comprehensive historical introduction to the first treatment of the Freud-Fließ letters (1950) he made a contribution to the Freud biography."


  • The "rustique" style. The use of natural casts by Wenzel Jamnitzer and Bernard Palissy. In: Yearbook of the Art History Collections in Vienna 1, 1926, pp. 137–208 (dissertation).
  • with Fritz Eichler : The cameos in the art history museum. Descriptive catalog. Schroll, Vienna 1927
  • Masters and masterpieces of stone cutting art in the Italian Renaissance. Schroll, Vienna 1929
  • An insane sculptor. In: Imago 19, 1933, pp. 384-411
  • with Otto Kurz: The legend of the artist. A historical attempt. Krystall, Vienna 1934
    • New edition: The legend of the artist. A historical attempt. Together with Otto Kurz. With a foreword by Ernst H. Gombrich. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1980, 3rd edition 1995 ISBN 3-518-28802-4 .
  • The aesthetic illusion. Phenomena of art from the perspective of psychoanalysis. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1977
  • Psychoanalytic child psychology. Translated from English by Peter Schütze. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-518-07288-9 .
  • Introduction to the first edition 1950. In: Sigmund Freud: Letters to Wilhelm Fließ. 1887-1904. Unabridged edition , Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1986, pp. 519-561
  • Frozen aliveness. Contains the dissertation from 1922. Diaphanes, Zurich / Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-03734-132-2 .


  • Nikolaus Mikoletzky:  Kris, Ernst. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 13, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-428-00194-X , pp. 48-50 ( digitized version ).
  • Utz Maas : Persecution and emigration of German-speaking linguists 1933-1945. Entry on Ernst Walter Kris (accessed: April 13, 2018)
  • Elke Mühlleitner: Kris, Ernst. In: Gerhard Stumm , Alfred Pritz , Paul Gumhalter (eds.): Personal dictionary of psychotherapy. Springer, Vienna et al. 2005, ISBN 3-211-83818-X , pp. 260-261.
  • Samuel Ritvo, Lucille Ritvo: Ernst Kris (1900–1957). Twentieth Century "Oumo universale". In: Franz Alexander , Samuel Eisenstein, Martin Grotjahn (eds.): Psychoanalytic Pioneers. Basic Books, New York NY et al. 1966, pp. 484-500.
  • Ulrike Wendland: Biographical handbook of German-speaking art historians in exile. Life and work of the scientists persecuted and expelled under National Socialism. Part 1: A – K. Saur, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-598-11339-0 , pp. 387-392.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Foreword by Ernst H. Gombrich. In: Ernst Kris, Otto Kurz: The legend of the artist. A historical attempt. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1980, p. 9.
  2. a b Ernst Kris, Otto Kurz: The legend of the artist. A historical attempt. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1980, (p. 2).
  3. ^ A b Elke Mühlleitner: Kris, Ernst. In: Gerhard Stumm , Alfred Pritz , Paul Gumhalter (eds.): Personal dictionary of psychotherapy. Springer, Wien et al. 2005, pp. 260–261.