- This event has passed.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: the Berlin Years, at Kunsthaus Zurich
11 February, 2017 - 12 February, 2017
From 10 February to 7 May 2017 Switzerland sees its first major exhibition devoted to the Berlin years of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938).
The Kunsthaus Zürich has gathered together some 160 paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, sketchbooks and a selection of textiles, sculptures and photographs for a survey of Kirchner’s work in Germany’s bustling capital city and on the idyllic Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn. Between 1912 and 1914, these two contrasting places of inspiration marked the high point of Kirchner’s Expressionist oeuvre. The co-founder of the artists’ association ‘Brücke’, who is best known in Switzerland for his images of the ‘unspoilt’ mountain scenery around Davos, appears here in what, for Swiss audiences, is a less familiar, edgier guise.
The Kunsthaus Zürich has teamed up with the renowned Brücke-Museum in Berlin to bring together works on loan from many continents in a dialectical exploration of Kirchner. Important exhibits come from the Städel (Frankfurt), the Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich), the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid), the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art (both New York), the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles), the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney) and the popular Kirchner Museum Davos. Private lenders are supplying works
that, in some cases, have never before been shown in public. There is also a fullsize reconstruction of the mansard niche of Kirchner’s second Berlin live-in studio – again, for the first time in Switzerland. The artist decorated it with textiles he designed himself, featuring Fehmarn motifs.
The exhibition is arranged chronologically, alternating between Berlin and Fehmarn – the two places of inspiration. They are often viewed as diametric opposites: on the one hand the frenetic lifestyle of a city that never rests, on the other the relaxing peace of a rural retreat; the hardship and alienation of the city dweller versus a harmonious existence in union with nature. The exhibition, together with the accompanying catalogue, presents these two poles – metropolis and idyllic nature – as two conjoined aspects of Kirchner’s life and work. Both exemplify his longing for an existence removed from bourgeois norms and for a new and contemporary form of expression. In addition to exhibits from Kirchner’s time in Berlin, the presentation also includes a representative selection of his early paintings from Dresden and some of the first pieces produced in Switzerland. They provide the context without which it is impossible to comprehend the profound changes in Kirchner’s art between 1911 and 1917.
The focused presentation investigates this pivotal phase in Kirchner’s work, and with it the socio-political changes of the early 20th century.