ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) is one of the greatest German artists of the early twentieth century. This exhibition pays tribute to Kirchner’s inventive genius with a focus on his highly individual approach to color, which he viewed as the fundamental building block to his paintings. Yet Kirchner was a multi-talented figure and his work encompassed various media—painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, and even the decorative arts. Rather than accepting the traditional hierarchy that placed fine art solely at the pinnacle of an artist’s achievement, Kirchner compared his activity in these different fields to “a tightly woven, organic fabric, in which process and completion go hand in hand and one aspect drives the other on.”
This exhibition demonstrates Kirchner’s seminal importance in the development of the Expressionist movement in Germany. Beginning with his years as a founding member of the artists’ group Brücke (Bridge), the show is organized chronologically, encompassing the periods that he spent in Dresden and Berlin and later in the bucolic Swiss mountainside resort of Davos. These three phases are presented in the main galleries on the third floor of the Neue Galerie, alongside a small room dedicated to his work during the war years. The exhibition continues on the second floor in the museum’s Drawings Gallery, where Kirchner’s extraordinary achievements as a printmaker are examined. In these prints, he was at his most experimental, producing art of rare beauty and strong emotional appeal.
In its totality, “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner” underscores the artist’s evolving approach to color and his uncanny ability to capture the spirit of his time. He was profoundly affected by the experience of military training during World War I. This led to a complete nervous breakdown, the effects of which he continued to suffer for the remainer of his life and which probably contributed to his suicide in June 1938 at the age of fifty-eight. His tremendous achievements were remarkable and it is our hope that his work will continue to inspire and spark dialogue.
“Ernst Ludwig Kirchner” is organized by Neue Galerie New York and co-curated by Jill Lloyd and Janis Staggs. This presentation unites paintings, decorative works, drawings, and prints, and is comprised of loans from public and private collections worldwide.
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IN THE NEWS
“A retrospective of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the best and most versatile of the German Expressionists, is always welcome.“
—Roberta Smith, The New York Times
"The Neue Galerie’s mesmerizing survey of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner reveals the genius behind the shocking surface."
—Will Heinrich, The New York Times
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Tightrope Walk, 1908-10
Oil on canvas
Neue Galerie New York