On Saturday November 16, the exhibition "Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Berlin Street Scenes (Berliner Straßenszenen)" opened to the public at Aurel Scheibler
, offering an extraordinary opportunity to see the most comprehensive overview of Kirchners prints connected to the Berlin Street Scenes (1913 & 1914) ever to be exhibited in an institution or gallery. The group of twelve prints is complemented with four drawings and two states of the only woodcut from 1915 related to the subject. All works come from private collections and none are for sale. The one-week-only exhibition frames the publication of the first two volumes of the catalogue raisonné of E.L. Kirchners prints, edited by Günther Gercken and published by Galerie Kornfeld Verlag in Bern. The exhibition runs until Saturday November 23.
A twist of fate brings together this unique ensemble of Kirchner works in the gallery which is only minutes away from the location portrayed in most of Kirchners Street Scenes and which was constructed barely two years before the artist began to intensively focus on the streets of Berlin and on the kokottes whose presence so hugely characterized the look and flair of Germans capital at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Kirchner is widely regarded as a quintessential cosmopolitan artist who was able to capture the city in its full paradoxicality: seductive and dangerous, gay and depressing, social and deeply isolating. Berlin had been in many ways a huge disappointment for the ambitious Kirchner who had hoped to find recognition, kindred spirits and a supportive professional and private environment in Germanys capital. Instead he entered an anguished existence in which pretense, fierce competition and extreme loneliness loomed largely. His meeting with Erna and Gerda Schilling, both cabaret dancers and 'demi-mondaines', provided Kirchner with a direct window into the citys feverish soul. It was this encounter which drove the artist to a highly charged yet partially frustrated outburst of creative energy which was totally centered on the figure of the kokotte, the very incarnation of the scabrous side of Berlin and a living paradox in her own way. This easy-to-get ticket to love a time-sharewoman is what Kirchner called her seems to promise everything yet she remains elusive, uncommitted, unloving and unloved. In a sense the kokotte symbolized the essence of the very city that brought her about. An intensely condensed group of eleven paintings, seven woodcuts, twelve etchings and four lithographs formed the final outcome of this obsession and with their completion, the theme of the kokotte disappeared from Kirchners imagery forever.