Monday, March 11, 2013

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Artistin Marzella
oil on canvas
101 x 76 cm
Brucke-Museum, Berlin, Germany

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

Kirchner was known for his energetic and emotive works, differentiated by an audacious use of colors, the vigor, and angular moulds. He wanted to avoid and stay away from existing creative traditions. He charted a new road, leading to fresh ideas and the novel modes of artistic expression, while cutting through the gap between the old & the new as well. "Artistin Marzella" is one such revolutionary work of Kirchner. Marzella, in reality, was one of the daughters of an artist's widow. Kirchner painted her both, clothed and nude.

The girl half-laying on a hunter green sofa has one foot on the floor and the other opposite her body on the cushion, her thighs still in contact. She rests her upper body on one arm, outstretched to the cushion, and the other arm propped across her body on the sofa arm, with her chin in her hand, hiding her mouth. The girl wears a dress striped in two shades of green, blue and black striped socks and red slippers. The walls and floor in the room are green and there are differently colored bottles behind the girl, in a doorway leading to a blue room. A white cat lays curled up next to her on the sofa. The girl appears to be in thought, with a bromidic expression. The girls skin appears dark, but lively and natural.

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, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner settled in Berlin and founded a private art school with the aim of promoting the modern teachings of painting. Although the venture did not last long and ended the following year, 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 outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he volunteered for the military service, but left it soon enough suffering a nervous breakdown. He was released from the army at the end of 1915. In 1917, he left Germany for Switzerland, to settle in Frauenkirch near Davos. he lived in a farm house in the Alps, and mainly focused on the depiction of mountain scenery until the end of his life. There he was  appointed as the member of Prussian Academy of Fine Arts. 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 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 Sertig Valley home, led him to commit suicide on June 15, 1938.