Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Date/place of birth

May 6, 1880, Aschaffenburg

Day/place of death

June, 1938, Frauenkirch near Davos

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Mädchen in Südwester
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Mädchen in Südwester

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner biography

    The artist was born on 6 May 1880 in Aschaffenburg and had two younger brothers. In 1901 he enrolled at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden and began his architecture studies, successfully graduating in 1905.

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner founds the artist group "Die Brücke"

    In the same year, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner founded the artist group "Die Brücke" together with his colleagues Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The aim of this group was to follow completely new artistic paths; the subjective experience should be implemented unadulterated, intuitively and regardless of the bourgeois moral concept. The establishment of German expressionism followed in the early 20th century. At the Moritzburger Teichen near Dresden and at the Ostsee, the group painted primarily the nude outside in nature. Bright colours and simplified flat forms characterised their style. As a result of their success, Kirchner moved to Berlin in 1911 where his artistic career experienced a further high point following on from his time in Dresden.

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    The excitement of city life, its entertainment and street scenes are new motifs which, from then on, would be captured with sharp, nervous strokes. Following internal disagreements between the artists, "Die Brücke" disbanded  in 1913. Kirchner held his first solo exhibition Museum Folkwang in Hagen. After voluntary service in the artillery regiment in the war, he suffered a breakdown in 1915, but had recovered by 1917 after time spent in sanatoriums in Königstein im Taunus and in Kreuzlingen on Lake Constance, financed by sympathetic collectors and museum associates. The diligent sale of his work by Erna Schilling in Berlin finally allowed him financial independence, and due to the rigour of the Spengler couple and his own will, Kirchner succeeded in overcoming his drug dependency that had arisen in the war.

    In 1937, National Socialists describe Kirchner's art as degenerate

    From 1923 Kirchner lived reclusively on his farmstead in Frauenkirch-Wildboden. He took his motifs often from the rich alpine landscape, working farmers, and also visionary landscapes. However, Kirchner's pictures, featuring increasingly abstract forms, could no longer be exhibited in National Socialist Germany, escalating to the defamation of the artist and the withdrawal of more than 600 of his works from German museums. Kirchner committed suicide in June 1938.

    Recognition of his works after the Second World War

    Following a number of solo exhibitions, Kirchner was venerated with a large retrospective on the occasion of his 100th birthday in 1980 which toured Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Zurich. The Kirchner Museum was opened in Davos in 1992.

    © Kunsthaus Lempertz

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Prices

    Ernst Ludwig KirchnerMädchen in Südwester€1.576.000
    Ernst Ludwig KirchnerHäuser im Schnee€496.000
    Ernst Ludwig KirchnerStilleben mit Krügen und Kerzen€476.000
    Ernst Ludwig KirchnerSkizzenbuch€102.000
    Ernst Ludwig KirchnerPantomime Reimann I€93.000
    Ernst Ludwig KirchnerFrau und nackte Frau im Atelier (Woman and naked Woman in the Studio)€91.500

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