Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938), born in Aschaffenburg, Germany, was an Expressionist painter, printmaker, and sculptor. Despite studying architecture at the Königliche Technische Hochschule of Dresden, Kirchner dedicated his life to art. He was even one of the founders of The Bridge (Die Brücke), an artist group that played a major role in the development of the Expressionist movement. Kirchner established The Bridge with Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The Bridge lasted approximately eight years before it was disbanded in 1913, when Kirchner wrote Chronik der Brücke.

A year later, the artist volunteered for army service for WWI; he was discharged in 1915 due to a nervous breakdown. While recovering from his breakdown, Kirchner painted Self-Portrait as a Soldier, which portrayed him as missing his right hand, although he never had an amputation. In 1918, Kirchner moved to Davos, Switzerland, where he changed his focus to the mountain scenery. By 1933, Kirchner’s art was declared "degenerate" by the Nazis. As a result, over 600 of his pieces were confiscated from public museums, and were either destroyed or sold. Due to the distress of his art being destroyed and the Nazi occupation close to his home, he committed suicide in 1938 in Frauenkirch, Switzerland.

Though some of the artist’s work was destroyed, the United States had already began collecting Kirchner’s works in 1921, and continued to do so throughout the next few decades. The American museums and galleries that have featured his art include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Guggenheim Museum in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Additional major museums that hold examples of Kirchner’s art include the Kirchner Museum Davos in Switzerland, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.

Some of Kirchner’s most famous artworks are Berlin, Nude Dancers, Head of a Sick Person, Street Scene with Two Cocottes, Nude Girl, and Head of Girde. This well-known Expressionist artist has been highlighted in many books, such as Kirchner by Norbert Wolf, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner by Magdalena Moeller, and Kirchner (Big Art) by Lucius Grisebach.

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