Ernst Ludwig Kirchner


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner counts among the most important Modern Artists. Born in 1880 in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, Germany, he began studying architecture at the Königliche Technische Hochschule (Royal Technical College) in Dresden, Saxony, in 1901. He received his degree in 1905, having spent a year in Munich in between. The same year he founded the highly important artists group “Die Brücke” (The Bridge), the epitome of German expressionism together with Erich Heckel and Karl Schmitt-Rottluff.

Kirchners studio became a venue, which overthrew social conventions to allow casual lovemaking and frequent nudity. Group life-drawing sessions took place, using models from the social circle, rather than professionals. (1) In 1913 Kirchner showed his works at the legendary “Armory Show”, his first major exhibition. 1933 his work was declared to be “degenerate art” and more than 600 of his works were either destroyed or sold off (via Switzerland). In 1938 he took his life at Frauenkirch-Wildboden near Davos (Switzerland).

His early works show some influence of late impressionist painting, but he soon developed his expressive style with strong, vivid colours in marked contrasts, figures with serrated outlines and elongated forms (a revealing similarity between mannerism and expressionism) and a perfect mixture of classical and contemporary subjects, including social comment. He was also a prolific printmaker as well as a sculptor, and he, too, was impressed by tribal art, which he had seen in the Dresden museums.

Although Kirchner was very much contemporary, he also had aspects of a recluse. In a letter from Davos (1919) he wrote that the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde had written to him, urging him to return to modern life. Kirchner went on: „For me this is out of the question. Nor do I regret it. (. . .) The delights the world affords are the same everywhere, differing only in their outer forms. Here one learns how to see further and go deeper than in \'modern\' life, which is generally so very much more superficial despite its wealth of outer forms." (2)In his famous landscapes the single motifs like mountains and trees somehow come together on the canvas like people in city streets. They all come from somewhere, go somewhere, carrying their individual history with them. The rendering, especially of the street scenes is mostly angular, slightly elongated, a little distorted, therefore forcing the eye to take a long path, which enhances the expressive values of the images.

He said about his art: “Every picture I create has its origin in an experience of nature. Here I follow Dürer, who said that art comes from nature, he who can pull it from her, he has got it. Nature, for me, is all that can be seen and felt in this world, the mountain like the atom, the tree and the cell that builds it, but also all created by man, like machines and so forth. All biological, technical, and scientific knowledge is valuable for my work, but my relation to this is different from that of a biologist or engineer. The modern light of the cities, together with the movement in the streets, gives me new inspiration. A new beauty encompasses the world, one that is not tied to the singularity of the figurative. Having probed into this multi-layered problem, also the great outdoors changed its face for me. Observing movement gives me the heightened awareness of life, which is the origin of the work of art.” (3)

When Kirchner defines his awareness of life as the origin of the artwork, it is clear that all his creativeness is governed by this and that the beauty of a work comes from the coincidence of effects and feelings, not from the classical categories like symmetry and harmony. Expressionism is, indeed, linked to the subjective cloud of feelings in the artist’s mind. This is a very similar structure to the “inner monologue” of writers such as James Joyce (“Ulysses”, 1922).Kirchner paints with colours which are chosen for their emotional values, chooses forms for their expressive effects. So his art is also a form of self-realisation, but one within a socially communicative context.(1) See Quoted after Donald Goddard at Quoted after

Gallery Exhibitions

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 16.04.2015 - 19.04.2015, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, ART COLOGNE 2015

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 29.11.2014 - 28.02.2015, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Die Natur des Menschen

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 19.11.2014 - 23.11.2014, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Cologne Fine Art 2014

Ein Hauch von Eden, 27.11.2010 - 31.01.2011, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie

Museum Exhibitions

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Erträumte Reisen, Nov. 16, 2018 - Feb. 17, 2019, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Die unbekannte Sammlung, till Oct. 21, 2018, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart

Kirchner und die Brücke, till Sep. 16, 2018, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart

Wow! The Heidi Horten Collection, till July 29, 2018, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Modelle, Akte und Kokotten, July 02, 2016 - Oct. 03, 2016, Stadthalle Balingen

Farbenrausch: Meisterwerke des deutschen Expressionoismus, until Jan. 11, 2016, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria

Eine ganze Nationalgalerie des Expressionismus. Die Sammlung Buchheim in Emden, Sep. 26, 2015 - Jan. 17, 2016, Kunsthalle Emden, Emden

Gipfeltreffen. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Bernd Zimmer, July 18, 2015 until Oct. 11, 2015, Buchheim Museum der Phantasie, Bernried am Starnberger See

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Energie der Linie, June 28, 2015 - Sep. 27, 2015, Franz Marc Museum Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, Kochel am See

ImEx. Impressionismus x Expressionismus. Kunstwende, May 22, 2015 until Sep. 20, 2015, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Auszeit: Vom Faulenzen und Nichtstun, April 29, 2015 until July 19, 2015, Sprengel Museum, Hannover

Kraft der Linie: Graphik des Expressionismus, Feb. 27, 2015 - May 31, 2015, Kunsthalle Mannheim

Der doppelte Kirchner: Die zwei Seiten der Leinwand, Feb. 06, 2015 - May 31, 2015, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim

(Lost) Paradise. Expressionistic Visions between tradition and Modern Art, until May 17, 2015, Kunsthaus Stade

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in den Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, until April 19, 2015, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz Museum Gunzenhauser, Chemnitz

Arche Noah - Über Tier und Mensch in der Kunst, Nov. 15, 2014 until April 12, 2015, Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U, Dortmund

Bogenschießen. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and others, until March 8, 2015, Museum Biberach Braith-Mali-Museum, Biberach an der Riß

Apocalypse Now!, until Feb. 15, 2015, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern

From Rembrandt to Richter: Masterpieces of the graphic collection, until Jan. 18, 2015, Landesmuseum für Kulturgeschichte Oldenburg

Premiére - The collection Würth in Rorschach, April 28, 2014 until Jan. 15, 2015, Forum Würth Rorschach, swiss

Weltenbruch: The Brücke-artists in World War 1, until Nov. 16, 2014, Brücke Museum, Berlin

Greetings from Kirchner, Schmidt-Rotluff, Heckel und Pechstein!, until Nov. 02, 2014, Osthaus Museum, Hagen

Expressionistische Begegnung: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Jan Wiegers, July 6, 2014 until Sep. 28, 2014, Staatliches Museum Schwerin, GalerieAlte & Neue Meister, Schwerin

German Expressionism: A Revolutionary Spirit, until Sep. 14, 2014, The Baltimore Museum of Art, USA

Kirchner. Das expressionistische Experiment, May 29, 2014 until Sep. 7, 2014, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg

Kirchner im Schaffensdrang, May 22, 2014 until Aug. 31, 2014, Pinakothek der Moderne, München

1900-1914. Das kurze Glück vor dem großen Krieg, March 28, 2014 until June 29, 2014, Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, Zurich

E. L. Kirchner - Linie und Leidenschaft, until May 04, 2014, Museum Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern

Georg Baselitz: Besuch bei Ernst Ludwig, until April 21, 2014, Kirchner Museum Davos, Davos

Highlights aus der Museumssammlung, Sep. 12, 2013 until Feb. 16, 2014, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal

1914. Die Avantgarden im Kampf, until Feb. 23, 2014, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der BRD, Bonn

Zwischen Brücke und Blauer Reiter, until Feb. 23, 2014, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Schweiz

Bilder des Aufbruchs, Nov. 7, 2013 until Feb. 9, 2014, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg

Wie-Berlin: Kunst zweier Metropolen, until Jan. 27, 2014, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

Eiskalte Emotionen - Werke aus der Sammlung Frank Brabant zwischen Expressionismus und Verismus, until Jan. 26, 2014, Museum der Stadt Aschaffenburg, Aschaffenburg

Kirchners Sammler, Mäzene, Museum. until June 21, 2013, Kirchner Museum Davos, Davos

Die eigene Sammlung: Gemälde und Plastik der Brücke-Künstler, bis 09.06.2013, Brücke Museum, Berlin

Junge Pferde! Junge Pferde! Kunst auf dem Sprung ins 20. Jahrhundert,

Feb. 9, 2013 until May 26, 2013, Edwin Scharff Museum, Neu-Ulm

Expressionisten aus der Sammlung Dr. Alfred Gunzenhauser Chemnitz, until Apr. 7, 2013, Kunstmuseum Heidenheim, Heidenheim an der Brenz

Highlights aus der Museumssammlung, until March 2013, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal

Im Netzwerk der Moderne, until  Jan. 6, 2013, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Expressionismus & Expressionismi: Berlin-Munich 1905 – 1920, Der Blaue Reiter vs. Brücke,

Oct. 13, 2011 until March 11, 2012, Pinacothèque de Paris