German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. _Street, Berlin (Straße, Berlin)._ 1913. Oil on canvas, 47 1/2 x 35 7/8" (120.6 x 91.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art. Purchase. © 2008 Ingeborg and Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Street, Berlin. 1913

Oil on canvas, 47 1/2 x 35 7/8" (120.6 x 91.1 cm). Purchase

Director, Glenn Lowry: Curator Starr Figura.

Curator, Starr Figura: This is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Street Berlin, a painting from 1913.

It is an image of two prostitutes strolling the streets of Berlin, and they're surrounded by a lot of men glancing furtively this way and that. And for [Kirchner], the prostitute was really a symbol of modernity and of the metropolis of Berlin. And it really symbolized this paradoxical experience of the glamour offset by alienation, the intimacy offset by isolation, and the fact that more or less everything was a commodity. And Kirchner used this really vibrant color, as a way of emphasizing this sense of discord and anxiety, in the way these very intense colors clash with one another. He's also tilted the composition, and compressed it so that the perspective is collapsed. And that enhances the sense of disequilibrium that we get when we look at it.

Glenn Lowry:: By this time, Kirchner and the other Brücke artists had left Dresden for Berlin. The nation’s capital and largest city, it had recently emerged as the center of the modern art world in Germany. To hear more about it, press 6050.

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