Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

German (1880 - 1938)
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Japanisches Theater [Japanese Theatre] 1909


Born 1880
Died 1938
Nationality German

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

  • German Expressionist group that was based in Dresden, then Berlin, from 1903 to 1913. The name indicates a forward-looking approach, their art viewed as a bridge to the future. They are noted for their revival of the woodcut.

  • Or Entartete Kunst. Term coined in the 1930s by the Nazis in Germany to ridicule modern art that didn't fit with Hitler's vision. Exhibitions of such works confiscated from German museums were staged and German artists branded with the term were banned from exhibiting their work.

  • 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.