Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Die Brucke- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Woodcut Prints and the History of Expressionism in Art

The painting is a bit gloomy. Even though it uses a lot of red and orange, these colors are not used to create a bright, appealing setting.

The model is slumped and the only two people portrayed in the painting aren’t looking at each other directly. Some viewers may get a sense of a certain amount of selfishness and rebelliousness coming from them both. Kirchner was a prominent member of Die Brucke.

Die Brucke is German for the Bridge. It consisted of a group of young German artists who staged exhibitions together in the early 1900s. The members of the group included:

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
  • Emil Nolde
  • Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
  • Erich Heckel
  • Peter Bleyl

Die Brucke as a group, is as famous as the following individuals in their preferred media:

  • Eric Fischl watercolors
  • Romare Bearden collages
  • Printmaker Robert Blackburn

Die Brucke gravitated towards art that was full of emotion and the artists chose techniques that allowed them to express themselves freely. Woodcut prints were ideal for the themes they addressed because of the contrast that marks in the wood provided.

The bold, hot colors that they used- such as the red and orange on Kirchner’s “Self portrait with Model”- also pulled the viewer’s eye to a composition. The members of the group were focused on letting their feelings and opinions be known through their artwork. Their paintings were dramatic and compelling. They were the founders of a form of art that was known as Expressionism.

Expressionism was influenced by what was happening in German culture at the time. Germany was spreading its wings and the German people were coming in contact with individuals from lands that they thought of as less confined than their own.

People were more in touch with nature and some members of society then were more likely to be accepting of nudists who wanted to stroll around in some outdoors setting. Wood and woodcuts served as a connection or bridge between art and the changes that the nation was going through.