Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

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    DETAILS

    1917. Woodcut on chamois-coloured heavy wove paper. 50 x 33.7 cm (57 x 44.2 cm). Framed under glass. Signature and inscriptions in lower margin altogether faded. One of only few hand-pulled prints. Very rare.

    Further proofs located in the collections of the Folkwang Museum Essen, Kestner-Museum Hanover, Art Institute Chicago, Kunsthaus Zurich and the Berliner Kupferstichkabinett. - Traces of age, two professionally restored tears (old).

    Literature: Dube W 303; Gercken 855

    The present work belongs to the group of 17 woodcuts considered to have certainly been created on the Stafelalp in 1917, during Kirchner's first summer in Davos. Kirchner's actively turning his attention to these new surroundings and their inhabitants was to provide him with a means to stabilise the precarious state of his health. Surrounded by the Swiss mountains he created landscape images of his new environment; they are characterised by a new, elementary and defiant power and are also anything but idylls.

    This extremely rare sheet is the artist's first woodcut from Davos without a staffage of figures. It depicts the - at that time, significantly more open - wooded area below the Stafelalp, where three paths lead: the old path for cows, the steep path for farmers and the route for transporting milk, which had not been built until 1908. The dramatically stylised mountain scenery, the condensed effect of depth and the animation of the clouds point, among other things, to Kirchner's occupation with the folk art of eastern Switzerland, whose formal idiom often inspired him (cf. Matthias Frehner, Berglandschaft aus Davos - “die grosse Steigerung”, in: exhib. cat. Expressionismus aus den Bergen, Bern/Groningen/Chur 2007-2008, Kunstmuseum Bern i.a., pp. 23 f.).

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, born in 1880 in Aschaffenburg and died in 1938 in Davos, is among the most recognized representatives of German Expressionism. Even though painting and printmaking were his main areas, the artist also sculpted, photographed and designed. During his youth, Kirchner was often moving with his family, living in Bavaria, Frankfurt am Main, the Swiss Perlen and Chemnitz. In his years at the Technical School in Dresden, studying architecture, Kirchner became interested in printmaking and executed his first woodcuts. After the exchange at the School of Art in Munich, back in Dresden in 1905, the artist founded the group Die Brücke, together with his university friends Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel and Fritz Bleyl. Both in their artistic practice, manifestos and life, Die Brücke pursued freedom of expression and liberation from the art of the past. In 1906, Kirchner started to exhibit extensively with the group and three years later, during a exhibition at the Galerie Richter in Dresden, he bought his first camera and began to document the bohème. Undoubtedly, the year 1913 remained crucial in his career. Firstly, because of his "Chronicle of Die Brücke", which resulted in the collapse of the group. Secondly, the invitation to the Armory Show in 1913, today recognized as the first exhibition of modern art, solidified Kirchner's place as one of the most important figures of 20th century art. In the time of the Nazi Regime, he was considered as one of the degenerate artists and included in the exhibition "Entartete Kunst" (1937). Today, his works are in numerous museum and public collections, just to highlight the Brücke Museum in Dresden and Kirchner Museum in Davos, where he lived and worked from 1918 until his death. Recently, the exhibition "The Double Kirchner" (February-May 2015) at the Kusnthalle Mannheim presented some of his exceptional double-sided paintings.

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