Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Evening Patrol (Patrouillenritt am Abend) (1915)

  • Not on view

This print, which the artist made shortly after his discharge from military service following a nervous breakdown, represents the riding instruction Kirchner had received as part of his training. The anxiety he felt about his service is conveyed in the nervous energy of his gestural style. Kirchner suffered from medical and psychological problems for the rest of his life as a result of the war; he committed suicide in 1938.

Gallery label from German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, March 27–July 11, 2011.
Additional text

It was within the artists' group Brücke (Bridge), founded in 1905, that Ernst Ludwig Kirchner formulated his views on art and established a visual language. Together with other core members—Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Pechstein, and, briefly, Emil Nolde—Kirchner sought a new spirit of freedom and authenticity that rejected both the stultifying traditions of the academy and the restrictive conventions of bourgeois society. Brücke artists felt that art could respond to essential life forces with spontaneity and immediacy through such subjects as the nude in nature or figures dancing with frenzy and abandon. Sharing studios and models, teaching each other techniques, and even vacationing together, they evolved a common style that first embraced the fluidity of Fauvism and then turned to the energy and angularity of tribal art for inspiration.

Printmaking was fundamental to Brücke activities, and annual portfolios of prints were published to help the artists gain recognition and produce income. For the most part, however, members' prints were experimental in nature and made with only a few proof impressions. Kirchner continued this unstructured approach to printmaking even after the dissolution of Brücke in 1913, eventually creating some two thousand works, primarily in his own studio. During World War I, after briefly training in the mounted artillery, Kirchner suffered a mental collapse. His depiction as an isolated figure is seen in Evening Patrol of 1915. His series of prints of this period, entitled Schlemihl Meets His Shadow, is also considered the embodiment of his anxiety and paranoia, conditions that would continue to plague him, along with ill health, for the remainder of his life. In 1938, after being ostracized from German art circles by the Nazis, and having hundreds of his paintings removed from museums and declared "degenerate," Kirchner ended his own life.

Publication excerpt from Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 52.
composition (irreg.): 20 x 23 5/16" (50.8 x 59.2 cm); sheet (irreg.): 21 7/16 x 25" (54.5 x 63.5 cm)
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Berlin
1 of three proofs of state II (total edition, states I-III: 6 known impressions)
Riva Castleman Endowment Fund, Edward John Noble Foundation Fund, and Eugene Mercy, Jr. Fund
Object number
Drawings and Prints

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Provenance Research Project

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner; acquired by the Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany, 1921 [1]; removed as “degenerate art” by the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1937 [2]; sold via exchange to Ferdinand Möller, Berlin, 1940 [3]. Sold through Galerie Kornfeld, June 20, 1986 [4]; to private collector, Chicago, 2000; to private dealer, Chicago, 2002; to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2002.
[1] Collection stamp "KUNSTHALLE ZU HAMBURG" on verso. Inventory no. 146.
[2] EK no. 5656: Reiter
[3] Gallery stamp "Galerie Ferdinand Möller / Berlin W35, Kluckstrasse 12" on verso.
Collection stamp "KUNSTHALLE ZU HAMBURG" on verso.
[4] See auct. cat. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: eine Schweizer Privatsammlung und Beiträge aus verschiedenen schweizerischen und ausländischen Privatsammlungen, Galerie Kornfeld und Cie., Berne, June 20, 1986, lot no. 84.

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