Street Dresden (1908)

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was born in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria on the 6th of May 1880. In 1901 he completed his formal education before he began studying architecture at the Königliche Technische Hochschule in Dresden. In Dresden he met Fritz Bleyl. They were both interested in art. He continued studying from 1903 to 1904 in München and returned to Dresden in 1905 to finish school.

Japanse Theater (1909)

In 1905 Kirchner, Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel founded the artists group Die Brücke ("The Bridge"). It was named like that because they wanted to create a new artistic art form to form a bridge between the past (like Albrecht Dürer and Matthias Grünewald) and the present. They created the style called expressionism.

Two Nudes on a Blue Sofa (1920)

In September and October 1906 the first group exhibition was held focused on the female nude in the showroom of K.F.M. Seifert and Co. in Dresden. In 1906 he met Doris Grosse who would become his girlfriend until 1911. In 1911 he moved to Berlin where he founded the MIUM-Institut in collaboration with Max Pechstein with the aim of promoting "Moderner Unterricht im Malen" (modern teaching of painting). After 1 year the institute was closed already. He then started a relationship with Erna Schilling that lasted the rest of his life.

Seated Woman with Wood Sculpture (1911)

In 1913 he wrote "Chronik der Brücke" (Brücke chronicle) which resulted in the ending of the group. From then on he went solo and his first solo exhibition was at Essen Folkwang Museum. He then started a series of "Straßenszenen" (street scenes) showing the streets of Berlin.

Nollendorfplatz (1912)
Berlin Street Scene (1913)

In September 1914 he joined the army during the First World War where he was recruited as a train driver but was kicked out after a mental breakdown. Kirchner returned to Berlin to continue painting. He created paintings like "Self-Portrait as a Soldier" (1915).

Self Portrait as a Soldier (1915)

In December 1915 he was admitted to Dr. Oskar Kohnstamm's sanatorium in Königstein im Taunus where he was diagnosed with alcoholism and addiction to Barbital (sleeping pills). He created series of oil paintings and many drawings  during his stays in Königstein. After an exhibition of his work at the gallery of Ludwig Schames in Frankfurt am Main in October 1916 Kirchner sold many works. He could live on it now. In December he suffered from a nervous breakdown and was admitted to Dr. Edel's sanatorium in Berlin-Charlottenburg. People who knew him told that he started to look like Vincent van Gogh and starting to behave strange and being depressed from time to time. He was treated for his illness in Davos (Switzerland). During this time he was very productive as a painter with paitings like "View of the Church in Monstein" and "Moon Rising at the Staffelalp".  These paintings marked the beginning of his Alpine life including paitings and woodcuts. He was continued to be treated for his illness in The Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen (Switzerland).

View of the Church in Monstein (1918)

Kirchner continued to work through 1919 and 1920 as his health also rapidly improved. Kirchner became close friends with Albert Müller and his family. Rot-Blau an art group based in Basel (Switzerland) was formed by Hermann Scherer, Albert Müller, Paul Camenisch and Hans Schiess under the guidance of Kirchner. In Berlin he met artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

Moon Rising at the Staffelalp (1917)

In 1930 Kirchner began to experience health problems due to smoking. He was a a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin in 1931. When the Nazis started ruling Germany he could not sell his art anymore. His art was considered being un-German due to the Nazis. In 1934 he returned to Switzerland where he met Paul Klee. Since 1936 his depression illness was back and was upset about the situation in Germany and feared the Nazis would invade Switzerland. On 15 June 1938 Kirchner took his own life by gunshot in front of his home in Frauenkirch. Although there are doubts about his death being a suicide. His work "Bathers" (1916) that was destroyed by the Nazis was re-created at the Kirchner Museum in Davos (Switzerland).

Red Elisabethshore  (1913)