Kirchner and the Berlin Street

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The Blue House in the Potholder District (Das Blaue Haus im Topflappenviertel). 1909. 
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Tramway Arch (Stadtbahnbogen). 1915. 
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Elisabeth Bank (Berlin) (Elisabeth-Ufer [Berlin]). 1912.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The Blue House in the Potholder District (Das Blaue Haus im Topflappenviertel). (1909)

Etching, Plate: 12 1/16 x 15 11/16" (30.6 x 39.8 cm)
Sheet: 13 3/4 x 17 3/8" (35 x 44.1 cm). Larry Aldrich Fund

Curator, Deborah Wye: To help understand the street scenes of Berlin, I've included other motifs in Kirchner's work that I think relate. But I included them more for contrast than for similarities. What you're looking at now are four typical city views that Kirchner made.

He made countless studies of cities in which he lived. But, we should remember at this point that he had started as an architectural student. So he was interested in the structures of buildings, in monuments, in bridges. And I think that that becomes very evident when you look at these works.

Now he always remained resolutely representational in his work. But he was definitely sensitive to new ways to express his motifs. The woodcut depicting a bridge in Berlin, I think, show a bit of the influence of the art movements that he was seeing in the galleries at the time, in particular cubism.

I think the main point about these city views is that while there might be some tiny figures present, they're certainly not what these works are about. They're incidental.

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