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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

A prominent figure in German collective Die Brücke (“The Bridge”), Kirchner (1880–1938) led this group of artists who renounced the conventions of traditional style and aspired to create a new mode of artistic expression, which would form a bridge (hence the name) between the past and the present. They came to be an influential group in the evolution of modern art in developing the artistic style of Expressionism, which aimed to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality. His portraits, landscapes, and scenes of urban life on the eve of World War I are known for their unsettling effects of psychological tension conveyed in vivid palettes and charged, bold brushwork.

Kirchner volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a breakdown and was discharged. His art was branded as "degenerate" by the Nazis, and in 1937, over 600 of his works were sold or destroyed. A year later, he committed suicide by gunshot.