Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938)
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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938)

Ausstellung Deutsche Grafik im Kunstsalon Wolfsberg

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880-1938)
Ausstellung Deutsche Grafik im Kunstsalon Wolfsberg
signed 'EL Kirchner' (lower right); with the Nachlass stamp (Lugt 1570b; on the reverse)
gouache on paper
51 5/8 x 36 5/8 in. (131.1 x 93.2 cm.)
Executed circa 1921-1923
The artist's studio, Davos.
Hans Bollinger, Zurich.
Anonymous sale, Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 21 June 1985, lot 54.
Kunsthandlung Jürgen Holstein, Berlin.
Acquired by the present owner in 1987.
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum (on loan, from 1989).
'Kunst und Kunstgewerbe des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts', in Tätigkeitsbericht 1988 Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, Nuremberg, 1989, p. 22 (illustrated p. 23 and on the cover).
U. Peters, 'Ein Plakat-Entwurf von Ernst Ludwig Kirchner', in Monats Anzeiger. Museen und Austellungen in Nürnberg, Nuremberg, April 1989, no. 97, pp. 772f and 196f (illustrated p. 197).
U. Peters & A. Legde, Kulturgeschichtliche Spaziergänge im Germanischen Nationalmuseum: Moderne Zeiten, Die Sammlung zum 20. Jahrhundert, Nuremberg, 2000 (illustrated p. 20).
Monats Anzeiger: Museen und Austellungen in Nürnberg, Nuremberg, March, 2000, no. 228 (illustrated p. 3).
F. Kammerzell & H. Strzoda, 'Kirchners Plakatentwurf zur Ausstellung "Deutsche Graphik" im Kunstsalon Wolfsberg Zürich', in Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, Nuremberg, 2007, pp. 195-211 (illustrated p. 196).
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Aufbruch in die Moderne. Bestandsaufnahme 1890-1933. Aus den Sammlungen des Germanischen Nationalmuseums und seiner Leihgeber, 1990-1991.
Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 51, pp. 138-141 (illustrated pp. 139 and 141); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, February - May 1999; Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, September 1999 - January 2000 and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, March - July 2000.
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Lot Essay

This work is listed in the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archives, Wichtrach/Bern.

Austellung Deutsche Grafik im Kunstsalon Wolfsberg is a striking gouache painting that Kirchner made in the early 1920s as the design for a poster advertising an exhibition of German prints at the Kunstsalon Wolfsberg in Zurich. This gallery was owned and run by J. E. Wolfensberg, a printmaker with a strong interest in avant-garde art. Kirchner, who had moved to Switzerland in 1917 following his mental breakdown and discharge from military service, was one, among many other avant-garde artists such as Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Hans Arp and Alexei von Jawlensky, whose graphic work was shown in this gallery.

Integrating both image and text into a bold and cohesive composition rendered predominantly in the contrasting colours of (life-affirming) red and (cold) blue, the motif of this poster is a simple and typically Expressionist symbol of birth and optimism for a new age. In the aftermath of the First World War and amidst the initial utopianism that first greeted the German revolution and the foundation of a new Republic, much Expressionist art championed this 'dawn of a new era' with images of the birth of the New Man or a star child. Here, in this gouache, executed one or two years later, Kirchner offers a slightly more grounded version of this same idea displaying a young child holding a bunch of flowers aloft while hovering, like a thought or dream, over the dead body of a German soldier.

Clearly an image of optimism and of a new beginning, this dramatic poster design offers what is also a more personal image - one that seems, like Kirchner was himself still doing at this time, to be still reflecting on and coming to terms with, the scale of the tragedy, trauma and loss that had so recently gone before.

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