Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938), born in Aschaffenburg, Germany, was an Expressionist painter, printmaker, and sculptor. Despite studying architecture at the Königliche Technische Hochschule of Dresden, Kirchner dedicated his life to art. He was even one of the founders of The Bridge (Die Brücke), an artist group that played a major role in the development of the Expressionist movement. Kirchner established The Bridge with Fritz Bleyl (German, 1880–1966), Erich Heckel (German, 1883–1970), and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (German, 1884–1976). The Bridge lasted approximately eight years before it was disbanded in 1913, when Kirchner wrote Chronik der Brücke.

A year later, the artist volunteered for army service for WWI; he was discharged in 1915 due to a nervous breakdown. While recovering from his breakdown, Kirchner painted Self-Portrait as a Soldier, which portrayed him as missing his right hand, although he never had an amputation. In 1918, Kirchner moved to Davos, Switzerland, where he changed his focus to the mountain scenery. By 1933, Kirchner’s art was declared "degenerate" by the Nazis. As a result, over 600 of his pieces were confiscated from public museums, and were either destroyed or sold. Due to the distress of his art being destroyed and the Nazi occupation close to his home, he committed suicide in 1938 in Frauenkirch, Switzerland.

Though some of the artist’s work was destroyed, the United States had already began collecting Kirchner’s works in 1921, and continued to do so throughout the next few decades. The American museums and galleries that have featured his art include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Guggenheim Museum in New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Additional major museums that hold examples of Kirchner's art include the Kirchner Museum Davos in Switzerland, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.

Some of Kirchner's most famous artworks are Berlin, Nude Dancers, Head of a Sick Person, Street Scene with Two Cocottes, Nude Girl, and Head of Girde. This well-known Expressionist artist has been highlighted in many books, such as Kirchner by Norbert Wolf, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner by Magdalena Moeller, and Kirchner (Big Art) by Lucius Grisebach.

Timeline

1880
Born in Aschaffenburg
1890
His family settled in Chemnitz
1901–1905
Studied architecture in Dresden and pictorial art in Munich
1905
Founded the „Brücke“ group in Dresden together with Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
1908
Born in Aschaffenburg, Germany
1911
Moved to Berlin; founded the MUIM Institute together with Max Pechstein
1913
His work was exhibited in the Armory Show, New York; first solo shows in Germany; dissolution of the „Brücke“ group
1914
In the heat of the outbreak of World War I he joined the army and was later discharged because of a physical collapse
1917
Settled in Frauenkirch, near Davos, Switzerland
1920
Major exhibitions in Germany
1931
Was made a member of the Prussian „Akademie der Künste“
1937
Was asked to resign as a memberof the academy; the Nazis included his work in the exhibition „Entartete Kunst“, so-called „degenerate art“, more than 600 of his works were confiscated from German museums
1938
He died by his own hand in Frauenkirch

Exhibitions

2011
Die unbekannte Sammlung - Klassiker der Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany
2011
Kirchner. Zeichnungen, Druckgrafiken und Gemälde, Hamburg Kunsthalle
2011
Bildteppiche von Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Entwürfe, Vorlagen, Ausführungen, Museum Biberach
2010–2011
Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner und Max Pechstein, Der Blick auf Fränzi und Marcella, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany
2008
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - The Unexpected New, Michael Werner Gallery, New York City, NY
2007–2008
Expressionismus aus den Bergen, Kunstmuseum Bern / Groninger Museum, Groningen / Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur, Switzerland
2007
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Berlin Street Scene, Neue Galerie New York, New York City, NY
2006
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Auf den zweiten Blick, KEOM Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum, Hagen
2005
Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (solo)
2003
The National Gallery, Washington (solo)
2003
Royal Academy of Art, London (solo)
1992
The National Gallery, Washington (solo)
1991
Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde, Los Angeles
1991
County Museum of Art in Nazi Germany
1990
Brücke-Museum, Berlin (solo)
1985
German Art of the 20th Century, Royal Academy London, England
1980
Expressionism: A German Intuition, Guggenheim Museum New York, NY
1980
Graphisches Kabinett Wolfgang Werner KG, Bremen (solo)
1979
Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (solo)
1979
Haus der Kunst, Munich (solo)
1954
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Aquarelle, Kunsthandlung Gauss
1954
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Frankfurter Kunstverein
1952
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1880-1938, Kunsthaus Zurich (solo)
1952
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Curt Valentin Gallery New York, NY
1950
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Werke aus dem Kestner-Gesellschaft
1950
Kunsthalle, Bremen (solo)
1948
Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (solo)
1947
Galerie Bremer, Berlin (solo)
1937
Detroit Institute of Art, USA (solo)
1937
The Buchholz Gallery Curt Valentin, New York, USA (solo)
1937
Kunsthalle, Basel (solo)
1937
Degenerate Art, Circulated by Nazis
1933
Ausstellung Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Kunsthalle Bern
1926
Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin (solo)
1925
Galerie E. Arnold, Dresden (solo)
1924
Kunstverein Winterthur, Switzerland (solo)
1923
Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
1923
Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin (solo)
1921
Kronprinzenpalais, Berlin (solo)
1916
Kunstsalon Ludwig Schames, Frankfurt am Main (solo)
1914
Kunstverein, Jena (solo)
1913
Museum Folkwang, Hagen (solo)
1913
Kunstsalon Fritz Gurlitt, Berlin (solo)
1912
2nd Blaue Reiter exhibition, Blaue Reiter Munich, Germany
1910
1st exhibition of the Neue Secession, Neue Secession Berlin, Germany