Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Two Women in the Street
Oil on canvas
120.5 x 91 cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 – 1938) was a German expressionist painter and one of the founders of the key artists group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th century art.
The group aimed to eschew the prevalent traditional academic style and find a new mode of artistic expression, which would form a bridge between the past and the present. They responded both to past artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as contemporary international avant-garde movements. As part of the affirmation of their national heritage, they revived older media, particularly woodcut prints.

He was born in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria. At the onset of the First World War in 1914, he volunteered for military service, but soon suffered a nervous breakdown and was discharged. In 1933, he was labelled a "degenerate artist" by the Nazis, over 600 of his works were confiscated from public museums in Germany and were sold or destroyed. In 1938, the psychological trauma of these events, along with the Nazi occupation of Austria, close to his home, led to his suicide.