With 19 works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) the Pinakothek der Moderne
houses the most extensive collection of paintings in Germany by the Expressionist painter who is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Although Kirchner made a significant contribution to the revolutionary use of colour as a pioneering »Brücke« artist, he has hardly been recognised as a »colour man« to date.
The exhibition explores the systematic and experimental path to colour that Ernst Ludwig Kirchner followed and his analysis of the colour theory tradition so controversially discussed around 1900. Kirchner modified the latest industrially manufactured tube paints in a particular way to achieve a matte but simultaneously intensive brilliance in his painting that, in retrospect, he proudly emphasised was his »identification mark«.
The basis of this exhibition is a joint research project carried out in collaboration with the internationally renowned Doerner Institut at the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, among others, during which a thorough examination of Kirchners paintings and the techniques he used was undertaken from 2009 onwards. This was the first time the work of an Expressionist painter had been the subject of a systematic, art-technological research. It does justice to Kirchners varied, contradictory and continuously evolving oeuvre that remains fascinating to this day.
In addition to the aspect of colour, the exhibition enables the underdrawings hidden beneath the surface of the pictures and reworked paint layers to be seen using ultraviolet, infrared and x-ray photography, providing an insight into the way the artist worked and how his major paintings such as »Circus«, »Dance School« and »Self-Portrait as a Sick Man« were created. In contrast to the stereotypical notion of the immediacy of Expressionist painting, Kirchners work proves to be precisely planned and carefully developed even if its appearance suggests a certain spontaneity. With great technical refinement the artist succeeded in transferring the speed and openness of his sketches into his oil paintings that continue to fascinate us more than a hundred years after they were created through the vitality and directness of their paint application.
A special focus of the exhibition will be Kirchners continuous self-reflection and self-correction evident in his work. For the first time, the presentation of