Sunday, 11 April 2010


“The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

For Art Sunday today, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), who was born in Aschaffenburg in Germany. He studied architecture in the Technische Hochschule at Dresden, and painting in Munich. In 1905, he and his colleagues founded the Die Brücke group. He was the leader among the German Expressionists at the time. In 1911, Kirchner moved to Berlin and the complexity of Berlin’s urban cavalcade prompted him to capture it on canvas. Berlin’s social life, the women, the glamour and all of Berlin’s artificiality were captured by Kirchner’s “bold lines and clashing colors.” The First World War was soon to follow and it would deeply effect Kirchner’s concentration on his art.

Kirchner participated in the field artillery of the First World War. He served in the 75th Artillery Regiment. However, in October 1915, he was discharged because of lung disease and because of several nervous breakdowns. The artist, in fact, would never recover from the persecutions of the Nazis. Later in the Second World War, the Nazis condemned him as a degenerate artist and confiscated 600 of his works. Kirchner was unable to handle so much hatred and he committed suicide on June 15, 1938.

His painting from 1923 “Kaffeetisch”, Oil on canvas, 119 x 120 cm, Museum Folkwang Essen shows a lapse into cheerfulness as with bright colours and simple direct forms he depicts an intimate coffee party where a family are enjoying the simple pleasures of life. The intent gazes of the two women deep in conversation, the tender gesture of the little girl holding her mother’s hand and the rapt attention of the father as he looks across to his wife are a tender testament to the quiet domesticity that Kirchner had missed in the trenches of the first world war and which he could see threatened as the storm clouds presaging the second world war were gathering.


  1. Your timing is immaculate :) I spent some considerable time this morning, adding material about New York’s Neue Galerie to an old post about Nolde. Now while I am rather unsympathetic towards Nolde, I am very sympathetic towards both Dix and Kirchner, so I added them to the post.

    Many thanks for the link

  2. This is really bright and cheerful Nic! I like this painting but I wasn't familiar with this artist. Sad end to his life!

  3. I love Kirchner's work! His canvases of elegant women are so evocative!
    This one I had not seen before.