Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
1919. Oil on canvas, 59 1/4" x 6' 6 7/8" (150.5 x 200.4 cm)
At the time he made this painting, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was living in Dresden, a large city in southeast Germany. In a letter to fellow painter Erich Heckel, he wrote of the Dresden crowds, “Completely strange faces pop up as interesting points through the crowd. I am carried along with the current, lacking will. To move becomes an unacceptable effort.” Kirchner heightened the colors of this city scene, depicting the figures with masklike faces and vacant eyes in order to capture the excitement and psychological alienation wrought by modernization.
The crowded city street—here, Dresden’s fashionable and wealthy Königstrasse (King Street)—was a frequent subject for artists in the German Expressionist collective Die Brücke (The Bridge), which Kirchner helped found in 1905. Artists associated with Die Brücke sought an authenticity of expression that its members felt had been lost with the innovations of modern life.
One who applies paint to canvas, wood, paper, or another support to produce a picture.
A setting for or a part of a story or narrative.
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
A representation of a human or animal form in a work of art.
Modern can mean related to current times, but it can also indicate a relationship to a particular set of ideas that, at the time of their development, were new or even experimental.
Encompasses varying stylistic approaches that emphasize intense personal expression. Renouncing the stiff bourgeois social values that prevailed at the turn of the 20th century, and rejecting the traditions of the state-sponsored art academies, Expressionist artists turned to boldly simplified or distorted forms and exaggerated, sometimes clashing colors. As Expressionism evolved from the beginning of the 20th century through the early 1920s, its crucial themes and genres reflected deeply humanistic concerns and an ambivalent attitude toward modernity, eventually confronting the devastating experience of World War I and its aftermath.
A facial aspect indicating an emotion; also, the means by which an artist communicates ideas and emotions.
The artists’ group Die Brücke was established in 1905, a moment that is recognized as the birth of Expressionism. The affiliated artists often turned to simplified or distorted forms and unusually strong, unnatural colors to jolt the viewer and provoke an emotional response. Its leading members were Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Pechstein, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The name Brücke (“bridge”) reflects these artists’ youthful eagerness to cross into a new future. The Brücke artists worked together communally until 1913.
The perceived hue of an object, produced by the manner in which it reflects or emits light into the eye. Also, a substance, such as a dye, pigment, or paint, that imparts a hue.