Kirchner and the Berlin Street

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Bather with Hat (Badende mit Hut). 1913
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Groups of Bathers (Gruppen Badender). 1909
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Two Bathers on the Beach (Zwei Badende am Strand). 1913

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Bather with Hat. 1913; Groups of Bathers. 1909; Two Bathers on the Beach. 1913

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Bather with Hat (Badende mit Hut)
Watercolor and crayon. 23 3/16 x 18 1/8" (58.9 x 46 cm). Brücke-Museum, Berlin. Photograph by Roman März Groups of Bathers (Gruppen Badender)
Lithograph. Comp. and sheet: 19 11/16 x 23 7/16" (50 x 59.5 cm). Sprengel Museum, Hannover Two Bathers on the Beach (Zwei Badende am Strand)
Woodcut. Comp.: 19 11/16 x 14 9/16" (50 x 37 cm). Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, Germany Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

Curator, Deborah Wye: The nude was fundamental to Kirchner's artistic vision. He worked on his nude studies in his studio with his artist friends.

In the summer months, the group, in the spirit of communal activity, would leave the hot environs of the city, and seek some relief at local bathing places. And when they lived in Dresden, they went to a place called Moritzburg, where there were some lakes and ponds. And they actually sought out the more isolated ponds, where they could continue their study of the nude.

You see this kind of very free sense of sexuality and openness. His figures always seem as if they're another force of nature, almost as if they grew there, like a plant or like a fish in the water. Sometimes they even look like dancers, when they're arranged compositionally frolicking in the waves. There's just a very natural rapport between the sexes, no antagonism.

It should be noted that what they were doing was not so different from what was going on in other parts of the culture in Germany. There was a back to nature movement, there was a nudist movement. So there was this idea of rejecting industrialization and all the things that came with it, and going back to a more natural, simple way of living.”