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Kirchner and the Berlin Street
A MoMA exhibition and catalogue present the German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner with 7 of his Berlin street scene paintings together with 60 works on paper, drawings, pastels, prints, woodcuts, from August 3 until November 10, 2008
Article added on August 3, 2008
  
The German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) killed himself with a gun in Davos, Switzerland, on June 15, 1938. The year before, six hundred of his works had been confiscated as “degenerated” by the Nazis. Subsequently, 32 of his works were shown in the “Degenerated Art” (Entartete Kunst) traveling exhibition in Nazi Germany.

In 1913, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner wrote the chronicle of the German Expressionist movement The Bridge (Die Brücke, 1905-1913), which was disapproved by his fellow artists. Soon after this and other internal disagreements, Die Brücke dissolved.

The same year, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the co-founder of Die Brücke was depressed, but managed to have his first solo exhibitions in the cities of Berlin and Hagen. In the fall of 1913, he began his Berlin Street Scene series, today considered the artistic highlight of his oeuvre.

Four years ago, in context with a
Kirchner exhibition at the Berliner Kupferstichkabinett, one of the museum curator's told me that she regrets that they have never managed to buy one of Kirchner's Berlin Street Scenes.

Today, August 3, 2008 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (MoMA) opens a special exhibition dedicated to Kirchner and the Berlin Street. For the first time, seven of Kirchner's eleven known paintings of the Berlin Street Scene series, which he executed from 1913 to 1915, are shown together.

In addition to the seven paintings, the MoMA exhibition and catalogue display 60 works on paper, drawings, pastels, prints, woodcuts and three sketchbooks (presented also in electronic versions that allow for pages to be viewed).



In 1911, together with all other members of the artist's movement Die Brücke, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner had left Dresden for the dynamic capital which, in the last years of the German Empire, was Europe's third largest city.

After the Brücke group disbanded in May 1913, Kirchner felt discouraged and lonely. Later, he said about the period that “...and agonizing restlessness drove [him] out onto the streets day and night, which were filled with people and cars”.

In the fall of 1913, he began working on his city scene series (Berliner Strassenszenen). His paintings express the contradictions of the modern city life in a period of rapid change and development. Nighttime and daytime glamour face loneliness and decadence, with prostitutes (Kokotten) present in many of his works of art.

As an Expressionist, he was in search of the authentic and raw energy and vitality of the German capital. He expressed the vivid eroticism in the Berlin streets, coupled with feelings of alienation, which become a metaphor for big-city life.

Kirchner moved away from the bright colors and the curving lines of his earlier work towards a strident palette with angular forms translating on canvas the high-pitched energy and lurid atmosphere of pre-war Berlin. Glamour and excitement, agitation and danger are expressed through a jaded artificiality.

After the war, in the Weimar Republic, the contradictions will be much stronger. The city will still be vibrant, with a crazy nightlife full of cabarets. But that situation with a population impoverished by hyperinflation and disillusioned by the lost war and the harsh Versailles peace treaty will be best represented by the works of George Grosz.


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The Museum of Modern Art in New York City owns one of the seven Berlin paintings by Kirchner on display in the special exhibition. The MoMA's holdings of Kirchner's prints, drawings and illustrated books constitute the largest museum collection of the artist's works in the United States.

The other lenders to the
Kirchner and the Berlin Street exhibition,, museums and collectors, are from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United States.

The exhibition documents Kirchner's work in progress. The artist examined the street scenes with an investigatory fervor. He made sketches on the street in notebooks, three of which are on display in the MoMA exhibition. Then, his works evolved in the studio, where he used pen and ink, pastel, charcoal as well as printmaking techniques such as etching, woodcut and lithography. Finally, he translated his “direct and authentic” impressions of the contradictions of the city life on canvas, giving us early expressions of the nervousness and the psyche of men in the modern metropolis in a form that rejected the art taught in the traditional academies.

The MoMA exhibition catalogue is the most detailed book in English on Kirchner's Berlin street scenes. Deborah Wye is a specialist of German Expressionism. She is the curator of the exhibition and has authored this catalogue. Deborah Wye: Kirchner and the Berlin Street. MoMA, 2008, 138 pages, 133 color and 7 black-and-white reproductions. Order the catalogue book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.






The MoMA exhibition catalogue is the most detailed book in English on Kirchner's Berlin street scenes. Deborah Wye: Kirchner and the Berlin Street. MoMA, 2008, 138 pages, 133 color and 7 black-and-white reproductions. Order the catalogue book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.








Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages


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 © www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber All rights reserved.