Ernst Ludwig Kirchner 1880-1938


A look at Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s biography shows an artist whose work and life were profoundly affected by the events taking place around him. Kirchner was born in Germany in 1880. Like many of the other artists of his era, Kirchner originally set out for a career in architecture; he studied the subject at Dresden’s Königliche Technische Hochschule. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s artwork which included painting, printmaking, and sculpting, play a major role in the development of the Expressionist movement.

Kirchner’s role in the Expressionist movement is best exemplified by Die Brücke (The Bridge). The Bridge was an artist group founded by Kirchner along with artists and architecture students, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The group worked in a common studio and held joint exhibitions. Nudes were a frequent theme of the group. The group disbanded after eight years in 1913 when Kirchner published Chronik der Brücke (The Bridge Chronicles).

A year later when World War I broke out, Kirchner volunteered to serve in the German army. The stress of war and service proved to be too much for Kirchner. He was discharged in 1915 due to a nervous breakdown. While recovering, he painted the Self-Portrait as a Soldier. The iconic painting showed the artist as missing his right hand, an injury Kirchner never received.

In 1918 he moved to Davos, Switzerland. The move ushered in a new focus for Kirchner as he began to concentrate on mountain scenery, which he executed in his trademark Expressionist style.

In 1933, politics and a coming war would once again impact the artist’s life. The Nazi party declared Kirchner’s art as “degenerate”. As a result, over 600 pieces of his work were confiscated from museums and either destroyed or sold. The resulting stress of the destruction of his artwork and Nazi occupation in areas close to his home pushed the artist to commit suicide in 1938 in Switzerland.

Fortunately for the art world, various institutions in the United States had begun to collect Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s art in the early 1920s, a trend that would continue for several decades. Kirchner’s works have been featured at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Art Institute of Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., as well as others. The Kirchner Museum Davos in Switzerland, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt all hold pieces of Kirchner’s work.

A number of books have also focused on the artist and his works and his role in the spread of Expressionism.

Kirchner’s artwork is highly collectible and very desirable, and Bailly Gallery is pleased to offer Ernst Ludwig Kirchner paintings for sale. The gallery will gladly arrange appointments for private viewings as well as welcome interested collectors to the gallery to view the works available. Contact the gallery to arrange an appointment or to discuss adding to your collection.


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