BIOGRAPHY OF ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner is born on May 6, 1880, in Aschaffenburg. After finishing high school, he begins studying architecture in Dresden in 1901. During this period, Kirchner paints his first canvases. In June 1905, he and his fellow students, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, form the Brücke group of artists. In 1906 the Brücke publishes its manifesto in the form of a woodcut by Kirchner, who now produces his first sculptural works as well as numerous prints – work in which he focuses on experimenting with technique and color. In 1912 he meets his future partner, Erna Schilling, in Berlin. The following year, the Brücke dissolves after disagreements about the Chronik der Brücke (Brücke Chronicle) written by Kirchner.
At the beginning of the First World War, Kirchner volunteers for military service despite earlier fears. However, he is soon discharged and declared unfit for duty due to his poor mental health. After being treated in various sanatoriums in Germany and Switzerland, Kirchner’s search for a cure takes him to Davos for the first time in 1917. A year later he moves into the “In den Lärchen” farmhouse and then in 1923, together with Erna, into the “Wildboden” house. During this time, he makes sculptural pieces of furniture and begins to capture the surrounding Alpine panorama in vibrantly colorful paintings. His so-called New Style is characterized by an abstract formal vocabulary, contoured color fields, and bright contrasts. Kirchner is deeply troubled by the National Socialist seizure of power in Germany and the subsequent public defamation of his “degenerate” art. He fears that the Wehrmacht will invade Graubünden and begins painting over his canvases and destroying his sculptures and printing blocks. On June 15, 1938, the artist, once again ill, shoots and kills himself not far from his house.