Kirchner and the Berlin Street

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Study for "Red Cocotte" (Studie zur "Roten Kokotte"). 1914
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Cocotte with Dog (Kokotte mit Hund). 1914
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Red Cocotte (Rote Kokotte). 1914.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Study for “Red Cocotte” (Studie zur “roten Kokotte”). 1914; Cocotte with Dog (Kokotte mit Hund). 1914; Red Cocotte (Rote Kokotte). 1914

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Study for “Red Cocotte” (Studie zur “roten Kokotte”)
Pencil. 8 1/16 x 6 1/2" (20.5 x 16.6 cm). Brücke-Museum, Berlin. Photograph by Roman März Cocotte with Dog (Kokotte mit Hund)
Ink. 21 x 15 1/8" (53.3 x 38.4 cm). Private Collection. Courtesy Wolfgang Wittrock, Berlin Red Cocotte (Rote Kokotte)
Pastel and chalk. 16 1/8 x 11 7/8" (41 x 30.2 cm). Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

Curator, Deborah Wya: Here there are three examples of Kirchner’s working process. The first is a sketchbook drawing where he must have been taken with the kind of proud demeanor of one of the streetwalkers as she crossed the street. It's done in just a few lines.

And next we see a pen and ink study, much larger. Now the woman is seen in full scale, but also he's filled out the scene and the environment. At this stage, the scene seems rather friendly and benign.

Now you turn to the pastel of the same scene. It takes on a very different feeling. You just feel anxiety and tension the minute you look at this. The bright red dress immediately identifies this as a woman of the night, as a streetwalker.

But mainly it's the way he's applied the pastel, the actual strokes. They're put on with a kind of vehemence so the whole city street, it's become electric.