Kirchner and the Berlin Street

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Standing Nude in Front of Tent (Stehender Akt vor dem Zelt). c. 1912–14
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Naked Girls in the Studio (Nackte Mädchen im Atelier). 1911
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Seated Nude, Fixing Her Hair (Sitzender Akt, die Haare ordnend). 1908

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Standing Nude in Front of Tent . c. 1912–14; Naked Girls in the Studio. 1911; Seated Nude, Fixing Her Hair. 1908

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Standing Nude in Front of Tent (Stehender Akt vor dem Zelt). c. 1912–14. Pastel. 26 9/16 x 20 3/16" (67.5 x 51.2 cm). museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Naked Girls in the Studio (Nackte Mädchen im Atelier). 1911. Lithograph. Comp.: 16 1/2 x 12 1/2" (42 x 31.5 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Ruth and Jacob Kainen Collection. © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Seated Nude, Fixing Her Hair (Sitzender Akt, die Haare ordnend). 1908. Woodcut. Comp.: 25 13/16 x 18 1/8" (65.5 x 46 cm). Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main. Photograph by Peter McClennan Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

Curator, Deborah Wye: Eroticism was fundamental to Kirchner's vision of art. This was forged in the early years as an artist in Dresden, with the other artists who were in the Brücke movement. They felt that the nude female body was the building block, the actual basis of art. But they did not like the way the nude was taught in art schools, where the body was idealized.

They wanted to see a natural, uninhibited female body and an uninhibited sexuality. They felt that the customs and rules about sexuality in society were very stifling. And they were really rebelling against that.

Some of their studios were communally used. And they often decorated even the walls of the studios together. And around the studio, the female models would be cavorting nude all the time. You see them taking a bath. You see them making a pedicure for themselves, fixing their hair, sitting around smoking, in one of them. It's just a very casual approach.

Narrator: Kirchner observed:

Kirchner (actor): “[The Brücke’s] way of life, home, and work was strange to the normal person…and was driven by the very naïve and pure need to bring life and art into harmony with one another.”

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