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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig


Berlin Street Scene
1913
oil on canvas
120.6 x 91.1 cm (47 1/2 x 35 7/8 in.)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

“Berlin Street Scene” utilizes the lessons of “primitivism” and assimilates them into something Kirchner once described as “the symphony of the great city.” His subjects are two Berlin nightclub dancers, Erna and Gerda Schilling, both of whom are depicted in the center of the canvas, their florid dress marking them as sex trade workers fishing for clients.

"A painter paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact he creates new appearances of things." (Kirchner )

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 Durer, Matthias Grunewald 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. He studied architecture in Dresden. After finishing his studies, however, he opposed his father's wishes and decided to become a painter. In 1911 Kirchner moved to Berlin. Here he discovered new motifs - city and street scenes. He painted them in a simplified manner, with sharply contoured forms, expressive features and clashing colors. The city paintings became incunables of Expressionism and made Kirchner one of the most important German artists of the 20th century.

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 1917 he settled in Frauenkirch near Davos. The city scenes were now replaced by mountain landscapes and scenes of rural life. Around 1920 his painting style calmed down, his paintings had a carpet-like two dimensionality. In 1923 he moved to the "Haus auf dem Wildboden" at the entrance of the Sertig Valley. In 1933, he was labeled 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 Sertig Valley home, led him to commit suicide.
http://www.imaginarymuseum.net/view/flipcard