Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), founding member of the Die Brücke (The Bridge) artists group in Dresden, Germany 1905, is among the most influential artist personalities in German classical Modernism. A trailblazer for Expressionist art, he succeeded in creating some of the most innovative formal solutions of his day - particularly as a printmaker. The exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle
features a representative overview of the most significant phases in Kirchners creative development: the early work showing studio and street scenes of Dresden and Berlin, work created during summer stays on the Baltic Sea island Fehrmarn and the later work in Davos. The exhibition itself centers primarily on paintings from the Kunsthalles own collection along with selected loans, all works indisputably regarded as the high point of Kirchners oeuvre as a painter. For the first time, these paintings will be shown in a context that includes their preliminary sketches - most of them on loan from private collections - print graphics showing similar motifs and the artists photographs as an integrative whole. The multi format presentation offers visitors a fascinating opportunity: Looking at the originals, one can follow Kirchners creative process from the first fleeting idea in sketches to the final painting.
Another special feature and high point are the large-format drawings - all of them measuring 90 x 69 cm, the paper size Kirchner used for nude drawings from 1906 to1910 and 1913 in his Dresden and Berlin studios. For the first time, 14 of the total 33 surviving drawings will be shown side-by-side - clearly documenting Kirchners pivotal development as an Expressionist artist before the onset of the First World War. A separate section shows views of Hamburg and St. Pauli nightlife, prints Kirchner produced in the course of his October 1910 visit to the city.
The comprehensive exhibition catalogue Kirchner und Hamburg features essays on Director Gustav Pauli (Hamburger Kunsthalle) and Max Sauerlandt (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg), along with art scholar Gustav Schiefler, some of the most important proponents of Kirchners art in 1920s/30s Germany. Numerous research findings highlight, among other things, the challenging museum acquisition politics surrounding Modernist art in the Hansestadt during theWeimar period. All of Kirchners pieces in the Hamburger Kunsthalle collection will be published for the first time as a notated, fully-illustrated directory, including reconstructions of the Kunsthalles one-time collection, seized in 1937 as degenerate art.