Monday, April 21, 2014

Ernst Kirchner: Messy Life, Messy Art

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) threw himself into modernist painting styles and the related bohemian lifestyle, making a name for himself as an Expressionist, Fauvist and (organizationally) Die Brücke artist. Considering the generation he was born into, this is understandable. It also meant that his art usually wasn't very good and, from my point of view, is destined to increasingly become a matter of historical curiosity.

A lengthy Wikipedia entry is here, detailing his fragile mental and physical state, numerous visits to sanitariums, and ultimate suicide.


Berlin women...

Berlin Street Scene - 1913

Five Women at the Street - 1913
I think this series of paintings is the most interesting of his earlier works.


Portrait as a Soldier - 1915
His most famous self-portrait. His right hand is shown severed, though it remained intact in reality.

Selbstbildnis als Kranker (Self-Portrait as a Sick Man) - 1918

Self-Portrait - 1925
I suppose we are supposed to ignore the drawing and focus on the composition and colors.

Paintings of women...

Sitzende Dame (Dodo - Doris Grosse, a favorite model) - 1907

Portrait of a Woman - 1907
Two portraits featuring Fauvist color schemes.

Two portraits of Gerda - 1914
Gerda seems to have appealed to Kirchner, because she is drawn with more care than ususal.

Erna (Schilling, Kirchner's companion for much of his life) - 1930

Cityscapes and landscapes...

Nollendorfplatz - 1912

Brandenburg Gate - 1915

Bridge in Wiesen - 1926

Violettes Haus vor Schneeberg (Violet House before Snowy Peak) - 1938
This is one of his last paintings. It's more carefully composed than his previous works.

1 comment:

Hels said...

I loved Kirchner's paintings of individual women or of crowds of people in the parks or streets (but not his landscapes).

Not only was he an unsettled individual... there was also something about the era that promoted anxiety alongside modernity. Nothing showed an artist's crisis of identity better than his portraits.