Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (* 6 May 1880 in Aschaffenburg; † 15 June 1938 in Frauenkirch-Wildboden, Switzerland) was a German painter and graphic artist. He was one of the founding members of the artists' group "Brücke" and is one of the most important representatives of Expressionism.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Dresden and the "Brücke"
In 1901, the young Ernst Ludwig Kirchner began studying architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. During his studies he spent one semester at the art academy in Munich. After completing his studies in 1905, the artist founded the artists' group "Brücke" together with Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Already in November of the same year, the first "Brücke" exhibition was held in Leipzig.
Four years later, Lina Franziska (called Fränzi) Fehrmann becomes the muse of the "Brücke" artists. Fränzi is eight years old when the artists begin to sketch and paint her. The Expressionists' painting style is characterised by strong colours dominated by subjective feelings and has a tendency towards abstraction and simplification of the motif.
In 1910 Kirchner became a member of the Deutscher Künstlerbund. One year later he moved from Dresden to Berlin. Together with Max Pechstein he founded the MUIM Institute (Modern Instruction in Painting). He made the acquaintance of the sisters Gerda and Erna Schilling. The latter was to become his partner for many years.
In 1913 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner wrote the "Chronicle of the KG Brücke". The group disbanded in the same year due to disputes following this publication. Kirchner is said to have overemphasised his importance for the group in this chronicle.
One tenth of his work was created between 1908 and 1914, during which time the artist regularly spent the summer months on Fehmarn.
The motifs of free nature form a separate group of works in contrast to the pictorial motifs of the big city from the same period.
After the outbreak of the First World War, Kirchner volunteered for military service. Due to mental and physical illness, however, he was discharged from service and sent to a sanatorium. As his condition did not improve, Kirchner spent most of the years 1915-1917 in a mental institution.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's resettlement in Switzerland
The artist suffers from paralysis, paranoia and an anxiety phobia. In 1917 the artist travels to Davos for the first time. After his final release from the sanatorium, Kirchner moved to Frauenkirch, a rural town in Switzerland. Under the pseudonym Louis de Marsalle, Kirchner begins to publish essays and positive reviews of his own works in 1920. In 1923 Ernst Ludwig Kirchner moves into the Wildboden House above Frauenkirch.
During these years Kirchner's despair is reflected in his self-portraits and sketches. Despite his illnesses, Kirchner continues to devote himself to art and begins to create large-format paintings. He focuses mainly on landscapes and portraits.
For the first time in nine years, the artist leaves Switzerland in 1925 and travels to Berlin, where he receives high recognition. In 1931 he became a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin.
Kirchner's painting style became increasingly two-dimensional from 1925. At the end of the 1920s he developed a very personal and strongly abstract style and an increasingly autonomous formal language.
After the National Socialists seized power in 1937, 639 of his works were confiscated from German museums and he was expelled from the Academy of Arts.
Some of his works were shown in the defamatory exhibition "Degenerate Art".
Kirchner takes his own life with a shot to the heart in Frauenkirch on 15 June 1938.