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Expressionism and Nature

For the German Expressionists, nature was an arena for healing and freedom.


Winter Moonlit Night (Wintermondnacht)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
(German, 1880–1938)

1919. Woodcut, composition (irreg.): 12 x 11 5/8" (30.5 x 29.5 cm); sheet (irreg.): 12 11/16 x 12 5/16" (32.2 x 31.2 cm)

Winter Moonlit Night depicts a view from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s house in the Swiss Alps. Kirchner and his fellow Expressionists revived printmaking, especially woodcuts, because the physical action required to carve and gouge a woodblock is reflected in the printed image. The blue glow of the mountains at dusk against the deepening red sky and trees creates a harmonious play of color and form. Kirchner turned to nature as a place for redemption after suffering from a mental and physical breakdown during World War I.

A term loosely applied to any printmaking technique involving a relief image cut into the surface of a wooden block. The wood is covered with ink and applied to a sheet of paper; only the uncut areas of the block will print, while the cut away areas do not receive ink and appear white on the printed image.