Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Berlin Street Scene ,1913-14, Neue Galerie New York and Private Collection
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) is one of the greatest German artists of the early twentieth century. This exhibition pays tribute to Kirchner’s inventive genius with a focus on his highly individual approach to color, which he viewed as the fundamental building block to his paintings. Yet Kirchner was a multi-talented figure and his work encompassed various media – painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, and even the decorative arts. Rather than accepting the traditional hierarchy that placed fine art solely at the pinnacle of an artist’s achievement, Kirchner compared his activity in these different fields to “a tightly woven, organic fabric, in which process and completion go hand in hand and one aspect drives the other on.”
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Mountain Forest, 1918-20, Kirchner Museum, Davos
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Standing Girl Caryatid, 1909-10, Neue Galerie New York and Private Collection / The Russian Dancer Mela, 1911, Private Collection
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Cattle Drive into the Alps, 1926, Museum fur Gestaltung, Zurich
This exhibition demonstrates Kirchner’s seminal importance in the development of the Expressionist movement in Germany. Beginning with his years as a founding member of the artists’ group Brücke (Bridge), the show is organized chronologically, encompassing the periods that he spent in Dresden and Berlin and later in the bucolic Swiss mountainside resort of Davos. These three phases are presented in the main galleries on the third floor of the Neue Galerie, alongside a small room dedicated to his work during the war years. The exhibition continues on the second floor in the museum’s Drawings Gallery, where Kirchner’s extraordinary achievements as a printmaker are examined. In these prints, he was at his most experimental, producing art of rare beauty and strong emotional appeal.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Portrait of a Woman, 1911, Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Panama Dancers, 1910-11, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Portrait of Hans Frisch, ca. 1907, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Self-Portrait as a Soldier, 1915, Allen Memorial Art Museum
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, The Toilette, 1913-20, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Tightrope Walk, 1908-10
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Tower Room Fehmarn, 1913, Columbus Museum of Art Ohio
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, White House in Sertig Valley, 1926, Collection Neuberger Museum of Art Purchase, College State University of New York
In its totality, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner underscores the artist’s evolving approach to color and his uncanny ability to capture the spirit of his time. He was profoundly affected by the experience of military training during World War I. This led to a complete nervous breakdown, the effects of which he continued to suffer for the remainder of his life and which probably contributed to his suicide in June 1938 at the age of fifty-eight. His tremendous achievements were remarkable and it is our hope that his work will continue to inspire and spark dialogue.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is organized by Neue Galerie New York and co-curated by Jill Lloyd and Janis Staggs. This presentation unites paintings, decorative works, drawings, and prints, and is comprised of loans from public and private collections worldwide.