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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner


Painter, Sculptor, Draft draughtsman

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(born 6 May 1880 Aschaffenburg, Germany; died 15 June 1938 Frauenkirch, Switzerland) German painter, printmaker and sculptor. Frontrunner of Die Brucke, Ernest Luwig Kirchner was a leading figure in German Expressionism. He enrolled at the Technical University of Dresden in 1901 where he met Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rotluff. Sharing similar artistic ideas and philosophies, the four founded the Die Brucke Movement in 1905. Kirchner is well known for painting from live models, either in his studio or out in nature where he painted with other members of the group. In 1911 he moved with the remaining Die Brucke members to Berlin, where the movement began to fall apart. Along with Max Pechstein, Kirchner founded the MUIM Institute (Modernen Unterricht in Malerei- Modern Instruction in Painting) that aimed to break away from traditional teaching but closed after a year. During 1914 and 1915 he painted his famed scenes of hectic Berlin life. His pictures of urban life have become the incarnation of the nervous agitated modern state of mind in Europe on the eve of World War I. He volunteered for the army during World War I but due to a mental breakdown was released in 1915; moving to Switzerland where he remained the rest of his life. With his depictions of the Swiss mountain landscape of Davos and its inhabitants, Kirchner made one of the most important contributions to landscape painting in the 20th century. He received great success in the coming years; with exhibitions in Germany and Switzerland; was featured in the Venice Biennale in 1928; and became a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1931. In 1937 the Nazi Party condemned Kirchner’s work as degenerate, and it was featured in the infamous exhibit Entartete Kunst. As a result of this and sharply declining health, Kirchner committed suicide in 1938.

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