Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Japanisches Theater [Japanese Theatre] 1909


Born 1880
Died 1938
Nationality German
Birth place Aschaffenburg
Death place Frauenkirch

Kirchner was the leading member of the Brücke (Bridge) expressionist group, which was formed in Dresden in 1905. He settled in Berlin in 1911, and produced many scenes depicting city life, on the streets or in theatres and cabarets. His spiky and aggressive style is instantly recognisable. In addition to making painting and sculpture, Kirchner was one of the twentieth-century's greatest printmakers. He produced a huge body of prints in woodcut, etching and lithography. Kirchner's work was included in the 1937 exhibition of Degenerate 'Art', which caused him great distress. He shot himself the following year.

Glossary terms

Glossary terms

Die Brücke (The Bridge)

Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a German Expressionist group based in Dresden, then Berlin, from 1905-1913. The name indicates the influences on their work, with their art viewed as a bridge between the past, present and future. They are noted for their revival of the woodcut print.

Degenerate Art

The term Degenerate Art ('Entarte Kunst' in German), was coined in the 1930s by the Nazis to ridicule modern art that did not fit with Hitler’s vision'. Confiscated by the German government, exhibitions of 'Degenerate' art took place in cities including Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig. In addition to this ridicule, the Nazi's banned artists branded with the term from exhibiting or holding teaching posts.


A style that made an impact in the arts in the 1920s, particularly in Germany. Expressionists abandoned realistic, accurate representations in favour of exaggerations and distortions of line and colour that were intended to carry far greater emotional impact.