Ernst Ludwig Kirchner(1880-1938)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was born in Aschaffenburg on 6 May 1880. In 1901 he began to study architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. He continued his studies in Munich from 1903/04 and finished his degree back in Dresden in 1905. Together with his fellow students Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl, Kirchner founded the artists’ association "Brücke" in June 1905 and hencefoth comitted himself to painting, drawing and printing. In 1906 he met Doris Große, who became his favourite model until 1911. He spent the summers between 1907 and 1911 in Goppeln, at the lakes of Moritzburg and on the island of Fehmarn with various members of the "Brücke". In his work he focused on the female nude in nature, expressed in strong and impulsive images.

He moved to Berlin in 1911 and founded the MUIM-Institut with Max Pechstein, in order to pass-on new artistic convictions and demands through "Moderner Unterricht im Malen" (modern teaching of painting). This private art school was closed in 1912 due to a lack of viability. In 1912 Kirchner also met Erna Schilling who remained his commited partner until his death. Until 1914 he returned regularly painting to island of Fehmarn to paint. In 1913 Kirchner wrote the "Chronik der Brücke" (chronicle of the "Brücke"), which caused the association's break-up. His first exhibition as an individual artist at the Folkwang Museum in Essen established his work as a part of the contemporary artistic scene.

Between 1913 and 1915 Kirchner painted a famous series of depictions of the metropole (Großstadtbilder), in which he captured the pulsating life of modern Berlin in hectic brushstrokes. In 1914 Kirchner voluntarily joined the military service. Following a nervous breakdown Kirchner was released from the army at the end of 1915, and from 1916 to 1917 he recovered in the sanatoriums of Taunus and Davos, Switzerland.

In 1918 Kirchner moved to Davos permanently, lived in a farm house in the Alps and mainly focused on the depiction of mountain scenery until the end of his life. Various exhibitions in 1920 introduced his work to a wider public in Germany and Switzerland. Kirchner moved to Frauenkirch-Wildboden in 1923. A substantial exhibition of his work shown at the art gallery in Basel prompted the Swiss painters Paul Camenisch, Albert Müller and Hermann Scherer to found the artists' association "Rot-Blau" (red and blue). In 1925/26 Kirchner undertook a final trip to Germany.

The later 1920s were characterized by artistic success: the first monograph was published in 1926 as was the first part of a catalogue raisonne of his graphic work. In Davos an extensive exhibition was staged. A commission for murals in the Folkwang Museum followed in 1927 and in 1928 Kirchner took part in the Biennale in Venice. In 1931 he became a member of the Prussion Academy of Arts. The Nazis defamed his work as "degenerate" in 1937 and confiscated all of his paintings which were on display in public museums. Kirchner committed suicide on 15th July 1938.




Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Artistin Marcella , 1910
Brücke-Museum, Berlin