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Weiblicher Akt (Female Nude) & Blaue Dame im Tiergarten...
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Weiblicher Akt (Female Nude)  The present work is an extraordinarily vibrant and enigmatic double-sided canvas from the height of Kirchners association with Die Brücke. Exhibiting brilliant colors applied in thick brushstrokes, these images represent Kirchners explorations of color and form and exemplify his central stylistic contributions to the German avant-garde.\nThe founding members of Die Brücke, Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel, were all students of architecture, and their willfully primitive painting style was entirely self-taught. In the program of Die Brücke written in 1906, Kirchner proclaimed: With faith in progress and in a new generation of creators and spectators we call together all youth. As youth, we carry the future and want to create for ourselves freedom of life and of movement against the long established older forces. Everyone who reproduces that which drives him to creation with directness and authenticity belongs to us (quoted in C. Harrison & P. Wood, eds., Art in Theory, 1900-1990, Oxford & Cambridge, 1993, pp. 67-68). What Kirchner and his colleagues Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff were promoting was a freedom of expression and a rejection of the traditions of painting that they had encountered as art students in Dresden in the early 1900s. Although the style of their art was rooted in German folk tradition and influenced by the perspectival advancements of French Post-Impressionist painting, the members of Die Brücke invested their art with a freshness and naivety that expressed the self-confidence of youth. Theirs was the first distinctly German artistic movement of the twentieth century, and their bold aesthetic established Kirchner and his colleagues as an important force among the European avant-garde.\nThe year 1908 precipitated a number of paintings, including the present canvas and those by Kirchner's Brücke colleagues, which gloried in a similarly debauched coloration and subject matter. As part of his artistic practice, Kirchner would capture the nude female figure in a variety of natural attitudes, shunning the traditional academic style of formulaic, arranged tableaus. Whether set in the studio or in nature, the immediacy and emotional potency of Kirchners nudes has a strikingly modern quality. In the case of the figural depictions, Nerina Santorious explains, the creation of an inner image of the artistic subject presupposed working with a scope of action and conception of corporeality that far exceeded that of the models traditionally posing in the academy.. In the merging of their working and living spheres, the artists went a step farther: as had already been the case with Auguste Rodin, the painters girlfriends, lovers and partners who served them as models moved freely around the studio, which doubled as a living room. It is conspicuous that the depictions by Kirchner classifiable under the heading nude in studio renounce traditional symbols of artistic work (brush, palette), instead showing curtains and homemade furniture that serve to denote the artists alternative lifestyle. The conscious linking of everyday life and creative activity was a means of keeping the living, naked bodywhich the painter aimed to capture in its natural, elementary movementsfrom freezing into a pose by placement in a studio (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Städel Museum, Frankfurt, 2010, p. 72).\nDuring this crucial period in the artists career he spent the summers indulging in Freikörperkultur with his fellow painters Pechstein, Schmidt-Rottluff and Heckel as well as the female companions who modeled for them. The background of Weiblicher Akt gives an impression of the colorful decorations and patterns inspired by the studio surroundings. The confident and discernible brushwork, bright colors and exaggerated forms that characterize the Die Brücke groups approach to art, are all visible in Weiblicher Akt (Female Nude).\nBlaue Dame im Tiergarten (Lady in Blue in the Park)\nBy the time Kirchner painted Blaue Dame im Tiergarten (Lady in Blue in the Park), his artistic gleanings had become more international in scope. In 1909 he saw an exhibition of Matisses Fauvist compositions at the Paul Cassirer Gallery in Berlin. He was so impressed with the wild coloration of these pictures that he tried to recruit Matisse to join Die Brücke. Nothing ever came of this offer, but the effect that Matisses influence had on Kirchner and his cohorts was profound. Paintings created by Kirchner, Heckel and Schmidt-Rottluff over the following years demonstrate an exuberant application of paint and their preference for unmitigated pigments and broad, sweeping brushstrokes is clearly indebted to Matisse. The flatness of the composition and the use of bold black outlines defining the bodies and the trees in the present work also reflect the influence of prints, particularly woodcuts, on Kirchners painting.\nThe subject of the figure in the Berlin street is arguably the most celebrated theme in Kirchners work. Kirchner first visited Berlin in 1910 and moved there from Dresden in 1911. Kirchner was one of the first of Die Brücke's members to make the important move from provincial Dresden to the teeming metropolis of Berlin, moving into a studio that would, in short order, be situated next door to that of Max Pechstein. The two began to work closely together, a partnership that no doubt incentivized each artist to push his stylistic expressions further.\nThe vibrant life of the urban center provided Kirchner with a totally new and stimulating experience, contrasting both with his time in Dresden and his summer vacations in Fehmarn. The move to Berlin profoundly influenced both Kirchner's subject matter and style. Promenading figures provided his main focus, rendered in an increasingly elongated manner, with the energetic, diagonal hatching that became the hallmark of his mature Expressionist painting. As Edward Lucie-Smith wrote: Kirchner was indeed producing some of his best work of this epoch, notably the hallucinatory Berlin street scenes featuring prostitutes which give a strong impression of the feverish atmosphere of the German capital just before and just after the beginning of the war (E. Lucie-Smith, Lives of the Twentieth Century Artists, London, 1986, p. 62).\nThe sitter for Blaue Dame im Tiergarten (Lady in Blue in the Park) is almost certainly Erna Schilling, whom Kirchner met upon his arrival in Berlin. Schilling and her sister would become Kirchners principal models during this period of massive creativity and frenetic urban energy. The composition of humans, Kirchner wrote, was strongly influenced through my third woman friend [Erna Schilling], a Berlinerwho from then on shared my life with meand her sister. The beautiful architectural, austere forms of these two girls bodies followed upon the soft Saxon figures. In thousands of drawings, prints, and paintings these bodies shaped my sense of beauty in creating the physically beautiful woman of our time (quoted in P. Kort, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Berlin Street Scene, New York, 2007, p. 20). Erna and her sister dominated the Berlin street scenesthe masterpieces of Kirchners oeuvre. In the present composition she stands in full, formal dress, a plumed hat and intricate lace collar complemented by a pair of spectacles held delicately in her right hand. Her setting, the great urban park of the Tiergarten in central Berlin, remains primarily abstracted though the leaves and color in the background hint at its enveloping presence. A related work, also depicting Erna, focuses on her strong profile in a café setting. These two depictions of relative tranquility of the female figure are the genesis to the charged dynamism of men and women in the Berlin street, which Kirchner would paint just a few months later.\nThis lot is sold in cooperation with the heirs of Regina Freudenberg\n\nThis work is listed in the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner archives, Wichtrach/Bern.\nSigned E L Kirchner (lower right)
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

dimensions

39 1/2 by 27 1/2 in.

exhibition

Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Neuerer deutscher Kunst aus Berliner Privatbesitz, 1928, no. 56 (title Dame in Blau) London, Fischer Fine Art, A Journey Into the Universe of Art, 1972, no. 28, illustrated in the catalogue

literature

Kirchner Archive, vol. I, no. 287 Art News, vol. 50, no. 4, 1951, illustrated p. 49 Art Digest XXVI, vol. 24, 1951, illustrated p. 33 Donald E. Gordon, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Munich, 1968, nos. 277 & 277v, illustrated p. 305 Andrew Robison, "Kirchner Collector Kurt Feldhäusser" in Festschrift für Eberhard W. Kornfeld zum 80. Gerburstag, Bern, 2003, illustrated p. 254 Hans Delfs, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: der gesamte Briefwechsel: "Die absolute Wahrheit, so wie ich sie fühle", Zurich, 2010, nos. 1245 & 2404 Inge Herold, Ulrike Lorenz & Thorsten Sadowsky, eds., Der doppelte Kirchner: die zwei Seiten der Leinwand, Cologne, 2015, illustration of both sides in color p. 153

provenance

Hugo Benario, Berlin (acquired by 1928) Freudenberg Collection, Berlin Dr. Kurt Feldhäusser, Berlin (acquired by 1933) (probably) Marie Luise Feldhäusser, Berlin & New York (by descent from the above, her son, in 1945) (probably) Erhard Weyhe Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in 1949) Heller Foundation, Washington, D.C. (acquired by 1952) Sale: Christie’s, London, July 1, 1975, lot 35 Acquired at the above sale

signedDate

Signed E L Kirchner (lower right)

time_period

Painted in 1908 and 1912.

time_range_end

1912

artist_range_end

1938

time_range_start

1908

artist_range_start

1880

consignmentDesignation

Property from a Private Collector

creator_nationality_dates

1880 - 1938





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