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Expressionism and Nature

For the German Expressionists, nature was an arena for healing and freedom.


Winter Moonlit Night (Wintermondnacht)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
(German, 1880–1938)

1919. Woodcut, composition (irreg.): 12 x 11 5/8" (30.5 x 29.5 cm); sheet (irreg.): 12 11/16 x 12 5/16" (32.2 x 31.2 cm)

Winter Moonlit Night depicts a view from Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s house in the Swiss Alps. Kirchner and his fellow Expressionists revived printmaking, especially woodcuts, because the physical action required to carve and gouge a woodblock is reflected in the printed image. The blue glow of the mountains at dusk against the deepening red sky and trees creates a harmonious play of color and form. Kirchner turned to nature as a place for redemption after suffering from a mental and physical breakdown during World War I.

A printmaking technique that involves printing an image from a carved plank of wood. The image is cut into the wood using tools such as chisels, gouges, and knives. Raised areas of the image are inked and printed, while cut away or recessed areas do not receive ink and appear blank on the printed paper. Woodcuts can be printed on a press or by hand, using a spoon or similar tool to rub the back of the paper.