• Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

    Szene aus dem "Sommernachtstraum", 1937
    Öl auf Leinwand, 195 x 150 cm.
  • Szene aus dem "Sommernachtstraum", 1937
    Öl auf Leinwand, 195 x 150 cm.
  • Rastende Spaziergänger, 1918
    Öl auf Leinwand, 39 x 49 cm.
  • Hotel Victoria, Davos, um 1920
    Aquarell auf Kohle auf bräunlichem vom Künstler zusammengeklebten Papier, 23,6 x 28,6 cm.
  • Sitzende Frau mit einem Hut in einem Restaurant, ca. 1912
    Aquarell, Deckfarben und Bleistift auf Papier, 34,2 x 27 cm.
  • Paar in Bibliothek, 1930
    Kaltnadel-Radierung, 27,5 x 29,5 cm auf 38 x 49 cm.
  • Divan (Orientalistische Szene), um 1913
    Aquarell über Bleistift auf satiniertem chamois Papier, 58,5 x 46 cm.
  • Toilette im Schlafanzug, 1915
    Lithographie auf braunem Papier, 42 x 31,7 cm auf 53,5 x 36,5 cm.
  • Nacktes Paar, 1907
    Farbige Kreide auf braunem Papier, 43 x 34 cm.
  • Balkonszene (Paul Klee mit Katze?), 1934
    Schwarze Kreide, 36 x 51 cm.


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is one of the most important artists of modernism. Born in Aschaffenburg in 1880, he began studying architecture at the Royal Technical University in Dresden in 1901. He graduated in 1905, but had spent a year in Munich in the meantime. In the same year, together with Erich Heckel and Karl Schmitt-Rottluff, he was one of the founders of the artists' association "Die Brücke", which was synonymous with German Expressionism.

Kirchner's studio became the center of a bohemian society that disregarded the rules of the time, where people occasionally made love and were often naked. Nudes were drawn in groups and the models came from friends and acquaintances. In 1913, Kirchner showed works in the legendary "Armory Show", his first major exhibition participation. In 1933, the Nazis declared his oeuvre "degenerate art" and 600 of his works were destroyed or placed on the international market via Switzerland. In 1938, he chose to commit suicide in Frauenkirch-Wildboden near Davos.

Kirchner's early work still shows influences of late Impressionism. But he soon developed his expressive style with strong, vivid colors in clear contrasts. His figures have a jagged contour and elongated forms, a significant similarity to Mannerism. All this in a perfect mixture of classical and contemporary subjects, including social criticism. He was also a diligent graphic artist and even a sculptor, and he was also impressed by the art of primitive peoples, which he had been able to see in the museum in Dresden.

Although Kirchner was completely absorbed in the contemporary, he still had something withdrawn about him. In a letter from Davos (1919), he wrote that the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde had asked him to return to modern life. Kirchner went on to write that this was out of the question for him and that he did not regret it. According to the artist, the world offered the same pleasures everywhere, only their outward appearance was different. Wherever he was, he could see further and go deeper than in "modern life", which, despite its many manifestations, was superficial.

In his famous landscapes, the individual motifs on the canvas come together like the people in the streets. They all come from somewhere, go to somewhere, each carrying their own story with them. The rendering, especially of the street scenes, is mostly oblique, slightly elongated, somewhat distorted, which leads the eye a long way. This enhances the expressive character of the pictures.

He wrote about his art: "Every picture I create has its origins in an experience of nature. DÜRER's statement applies to me here: All art comes from nature, whoever can tear it out, has it. For me, nature is everything visible and tangible in the world, the mountain like the atom, the tree and the cell that builds it, but also everything created by humans, such as machines, etc. All biological, technical and scientific knowledge is valuable for my work, but my relationship to it is very different from that of a biologist or engineer. The modern light of the cities, combined with the movement of the streets, gives me new inspiration. A new beauty spreads across the world that does not lie in the detail of the objective. By training myself on this rich problem, even the natural world outside has taken on a different face for my eyes. From the observation of movement comes the heightened sense of life that is the origin of the work of art."

When Kirchner names the feeling of life as the source of the work of art, it becomes clear that his entire creativity is under this primacy and that the beauty of a work arises from the coincidence of effects with feelings, not governed by classical categories such as symmetry and harmony. Expressionism means, in fact, an inseparable connection to the cloud of feeling in the artist's consciousness. This is akin to the "inner monologue" used by writers such as James Joyce ("Ulysses", 1922).Kirchner paints with colors, which he chooses for their emotional values, and with forms for their expressive power. Thus his art is also a self-realization, but within a socially communicative context.

 Kirchner paints with colors, which he chooses for their emotional values, and with forms for their expressive power. Thus his art is also a self-realization, but within a socially communicative context.

I have penetrated deeply into the secrets of representation and my attitude to art is now clear and conscious, where it used to be instinctive.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1921 Quote, letter to Nele (van der Velde), 1923


Museum and single exhibitions (selection)


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Der Maler als Fotograf, Museum der Moderne Salzburg


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Erträumte Reisen, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Die unbekannte Sammlung, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart

Kirchner und die Brücke, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart

Wow! The Heidi Horten Collection, Leopold Museum, Wien


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Modelle, Akte und Kokotten, Stadthalle Balingen

Farbenrausch: Meisterwerke des deutschen Expressionoismus, Leopold Museum, Wien


Eine ganze Nationalgalerie des Expressionismus. Die Sammlung Buchheim in Emden, Kunsthalle Emden, Emden

Gipfeltreffen. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner und Bernd Zimmer, Buchheim Museum der Phantasie, Bernried am Starnberger See

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Energie der Linie, Franz Marc Museum Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, Kochel am See

ImEx. Impressionismus x Expressionismus. Kunstwende, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Auszeit: Vom Faulenzen und Nichtstun, Sprengel Museum, Hannover

Kraft der Linie: Graphik des Expressionismus, Kunsthalle Mannheim

Der doppelte Kirchner: Die zwei Seiten der Leinwand, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim

Das (verlorene) Paradies. Expressionistische Visionen zwischen Tradition und Moderne, Kunsthaus Stade

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in den Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz Museum Gunzenhauser, Chemnitz


Arche Noah - Über Tier und Mensch in der Kunst, Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U, Dortmund

Bogenschießen. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner und andere,  Museum Biberach Braith-Mali-Museum, Biberach an der Riß

Apocalypse Now!, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern

Von Rembrandt bis Richter: Meisterblätter der Grafischen Sammlung, Landesmuseum für Kulturgeschichte Oldenburg


Premiére - Die Sammlung Würth in Rorschach, Forum Würth Rorschach, Schweiz

Weltenbruch: Die Künstler der Brücke im Ersten Weltkrieg, Brücke Museum, Berlin

Kirchner, Schmidt-Rotluff, Heckel und Pechstein lassen grüßen!, Osthaus Museum, Hagen

Expressionistische Begegnung: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Jan Wiegers, Staatliches Museum Schwerin, GalerieAlte & Neue Meister, Schwerin

German Expressionism: A Revolutionary Spirit, The Baltimore Museum of Art, USA

Kirchner. Das expressionistische Experiment, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg

Kirchner im Schaffensdrang, Pinakothek der Moderne, München

1900-1914. Das kurze Glück vor dem großen Krieg, Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, Zürich

E. L. Kirchner - Linie und Leidenschaft, Museum Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern

Georg Baselitz: Besuch bei Ernst Ludwig,  Kirchner Museum Davos, Davos


Highlights aus der Museumssammlung, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal

1914. Die Avantgarden im Kampf, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der BRD, Bonn

Zwischen Brücke und Blauer Reiter, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Schweiz

Bilder des Aufbruchs, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg

Wie-Berlin: Kunst zweier Metropolen,  Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

Eiskalte Emotionen - Werke aus der Sammlung Frank Brabant zwischen Expressionismus und Verismus,  Museum der Stadt Aschaffenburg, Aschaffenburg

Kirchners Sammler, Mäzene, Museum. Kirchner Museum Davos, Davos

Die eigene Sammlung: Gemälde und Plastik der Brücke-Künstler, Brücke Museum, Berlin

Junge Pferde! Junge Pferde! Kunst auf dem Sprung ins 20. Jahrhundert, Edwin Scharff Museum, Neu-Ulm

Expressionisten aus der Sammlung Dr. Alfred Gunzenhauser Chemnitz, Kunstmuseum Heidenheim, Heidenheim an der Brenz

Highlights aus der Museumssammlung, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal

Im Netzwerk der Moderne, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden


Expressionismus & Expressionismi: Berlin-Munich 1905 – 1920, Der Blaue Reiter vs. Brücke, Pinacothèque de Paris