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

Gruppe nackter Frauen in Unterhaltung

Details
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
Gruppe nackter Frauen in Unterhaltung
signed and dated 'E L Kirchner 05' (lower center); with Nachlass stamp (on the reverse)
colored wax crayons on paper
32 3/8 x 25 ¾ in. (82.3 x 65.4 cm.)
Drawn in 1905
Provenance
Estate of the artist.
Curt Valentin Gallery, New York (acquired from the above).
Roman Nobert Ketterer, Campione d'Italia.
Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin (December 1963).
Anon. sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 12 November 1970, lot 26.
Private collection (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 13 May 2016, lot 1039.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice
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Lot Essay

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

In the present work, four female figures stand free, unclothed, and unposed, in apparent ease and in harmony within their natural environment. While the Brücke artists worked intensely in their shared studios in Dresden, which they had painted and decorated with an array of exotic fabrics and objects, they also ventured, in the spirit of Paul Gauguin and his voyages to the South Sea, into the landscape surrounding the city. It was here that these men found the setting that best embodied their Expressionist pursuits. "The nudes in sunlight (either inside or outside a room)...show now an intensity of personal experience unheard of in the former generation. The shimmering colours around them form an overpowering frame for the vibrating mass of body. As always in Kirchner's compositions, the figures, although quite near to the spectator, are most naturally integrated in the surrounding space. We remember another of his marginal notes on a somewhat later drawing (not dated) of the sketchbook representing Bathing Girls on the Beach: 'Figures and nature must become one in the picture, all forms are subordinated to this law'" (W.R. Valentiner, E.L. Kirchner, German Expressionist, Raleigh, 1958, pp. 15-16).
Executed in bold lines of color, the present work suggests a vigorous and immediate response from the artist on both an emotional and aesthetic level to the scene before him. The languid, natural pose of the nudes, relaxed and enjoying their nakedness and surroundings, is something that clearly reinforces this sense of communal idyll. Such natural, unstaged body language was something that Kirchner always sought from his models, observing that it was “only at home” that he felt he “had complete freedom in [his] work” (Kirchner, quoted in L. Grisebach, Kirchner, Cologne, 1999, p. 38).

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