Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany, November 15, 2018 – March 03, 2019
In collaboration with the Kirchner Museum Davos in Switzerland the Art Centre Basel has curated an exhibition about Kirchner’s lifelong interest in foreign cultures. Although the artist never travelled much and spent the majority of his life in Germany and Switzerland, he was greatly influenced by non-European cultures and folk art. Seeking a lifestyle away from the establishment, Kirchner created exotic enclaves in his studios by richly decorating the walls in paint and textiles and carving his own furniture.
While most of the original work has been lost, photographs, sketches and even paintings provide ample original sources to trace his interests in the Other. Some furniture, like a stool from Cameroon that was in his studio in Berlin and a bed he carved for his wife Erna Schilling, with references to both African and Swiss folk art, will be displayed. This is the only time that this bed will ever be shown outside of the Kirchner Museum Davos.
In Kirchner’s late period, during his time in the Swiss Alps, the artist turned to local folk culture. There, his fascination with a simpler form of life, one that was in touch with nature, found resonance not only in the day to day life of his neighbours but in incorporating sujet and technique of Swiss folk art into his work, which cumulated in his self-declared ‘new style’ of the late 1920s.
In displaying approximately 50 paintings, as well as works on paper, sculpture and photographs, the majority of which come from the rich holdings of the Kirchner Museum Davos, the exhibition seeks to trace Kirchner’s artistic development in three overarching sections. The first section is dedicated to his studios in Dresden and Berlin and to his affinity with the archaic way of life of the so called Lebensreform at the lakes in Moritzburg and on the island Fehmarn. The second section serves as a kind of a cesura by looking at Kirchner’s brief time in the military and his traumatic disease, which led him to seek treatment at various sanatoriums. During this period Kirchner turned to portraiture as a means of solving his own identity crisis.
The third and final section will focus on his time in rural Switzerland and the abundance of strikingly colourful work he created almost manically in his cabin in the Alps until his death in 1938.
Alongside paintings, sculpture, woodcuts, sketches and drawings, textiles, carvings, furniture and photographs will be displayed, and the exhibition will be supplemented by impressive biographical information such as letters, postcards and diary entries.
‘Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Imaginary Travels’ will be shown at Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany, from November 15, 2018 – March 03, 2019.
Curators: Katharina Beisiegel (Art Centre Basel) in collaboration with Dr. Thorsten Sadowsky (Director of the Kirchner Museum Davos)