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Photographic self portrait, 1919
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (6 May 1880 – 15 June 1938); German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke or "The Bridge", a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th-century art. He volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a breakdown and was discharged. In 1933, his work was branded as "degenerate" by the Nazis and in 1937, over 600 of his works were sold or destroyed. In 1938, he committed suicide by gunshot.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was born in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria. His parents were of Prussian descent and his mother was a descendant of the Huguenots, a fact to which Kirchner often referred.... Although Kirchner's parents encouraged his artistic career they also wanted him to complete his formal education so in 1901, he began studying architecture at the Königliche Technische Hochschule (royal technical university) of Dresden.... Kirchner continued studies in Munich 1903–1904, returning to Dresden in 1905 to complete his degree.
..."A colorfully painted curtain concealed a large collection of paintings. When we began to look at them, he came alive. Together with me, he saw all his experiences drift by on canvas, the small, timid-looking woman set aside what we had seen and brought a bottle of wine. He made short explanatory remarks in a weary voice. Each picture had its own particular colorful character, a great sadness was present in all of them; what I had previously found to be incomprehensible and unfinished now created the same delicate and sensitive impression as his personality. Everywhere a search for style, for psychological understanding of his figures. The most moving was a self portrait in uniform with his right hand cut off. Then he showed me his travel permit for Switzerland. He wanted to go back to Davos... and implored me to ask father for a medical...