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Japanisches Theater [Japanese Theatre] 1909

On Display Modern One

This is one of Kirchner's first paintings to depict a stage scene. It shows actors from a Japanese theatre company performing at Dresden's Albert Theatre. Theatre and cabaret scenes were extremely popular among the Brücke expressionist group. The artist's unusual viewpoint, looking down on the actors from a side angle, suggests that he may have seen the play from a theatre box. Kirchner saw an exhibition of Matisse paintings in December 1908, and this painting shows the influence of Matisse's flat areas of anti-naturalistic colour.

Glossary Open

Brücke, Die (The Bridge)

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.


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


Art based on the observation of objects rather than on theoretical or stylistic concerns.

Brücke, Die (The Bridge), Expressionism, Naturalism


  • Acc. No. GMA 911
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 113.70 x 113.70 cm (framed: 133.20 x 133.20 x 5.80 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1965