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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner The Painter as Photographer
2 March, 2019
Numerous exhibitions have celebrated the painter and sculptor Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The Museum der Moderne Salzburg now presents an in-depth survey of the artist’s work in photography, the first such show in Austria.
Salzburg, February 14, 2019. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 Aschaffenburg, DE―1938 Davos, CH) was arguably the only one among the German Expressionists who did more than dabble in photography.
He left an archive of ca. 1,300 glass and celluloid negatives, a collection of vintage prints, and bound albums containing photographic reproductions of his paintings, drawings, sculptures, and graphic art.
Numerous exhibitions have offered public audiences opportunities to study Kirchner’s widely acclaimed oeuvre as a painter and sculptor; his photographic work, by contrast, has not received the same attention and appreciation. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
The Painter as Photographer is the first exhibition at an Austrian museum specifically devoted to the artist’s photography. It gathers a selection of ca. 300 photographs, with examples from all genres the artist tried his hand at: from nudes, studio scenes, and portraits to landscape and object photography.
“Kirchner did not think of his photography as fine art, but he extensively explored the medium’s possibilities. Working with the camera spurred his creative imagination and helped him devise compositional solutions; his art conversely reflects the vision of an inventory of the world in the photographic image,” as Thorsten Sadowsky, curator of the exhibition and director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, observes.
Kirchner used photography as a source of inspiration, memory aid, and visual tool in the work on his art. Carefully arranged shots of his sculptures, pictures of visitors in his studio, and photographic documentation of the genesis of a painting in the various stages of its evolution suggest the interplay between photography and fine art in the artist’s oeuvre.
Organized in a series of thematic foci, the exhibition at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg undertakes a comprehensive survey of the photographic gaze in Kirchner’s art. A small selection of paintings rounds out the presentation of this little-known segment of the famous German Expressionist’s output.
A special section of the exhibition examines Kirchner’s efforts at image cultivation and self-promotion by spotlighting his attempts to control the public’s perception of his life and career through a fictional critic.
Between 1920 and 1933, he published six essays on his work under the pseudonym Louis de Marsalle, deftly marketing his own work. In 2016, the Swiss photographer Stephan Bösch (1982 St. Gallen, CH) created Louis de Marsalle.
Visite à Davos, a series of large-format black-and-white photographs that put a face to Kirchner’s imaginary alter ego. It will be the first time that the series will be displayed together with Kirchner’s own photographs.