Monday, June 1, 2009

Ernst Kirchner ~ Landscapes from Switzerland

In the post the other day, I mentioned the prevalence of the color blue in Ernst Kirchner's work. Winter Landscape by Moonlight is an oil that Kirchner painted in 1919. By some standards at almost four feet by four feet, it is quite large. The sky painted using red and yellow is almost a golden color filling the air with a warmth shown in those red trees on the blue slopes, the ever present blue. The painting is said to be a view from Kirchner's window in Davos where he moved after being in and out of sanatoriums for his physical and mental decline brought on after his brief time serving in World War I. Although his days are calmer in 1919, those clouds racing across the sky harken back to those hectic days spent in Berlin.

Somewhat later in the 20's Kirchner life and health returned. He remained in Switzerland and his art became calmer achieving a certain balance and composure that hadn't been there before. Landscapes were the focus of his work. His forms became more simplified and stylized. He collaborated with the weaver Lise Gujer during this period. He wrote in his diary of a new approach to painting: "I see a new way of painting becoming possible, with more independent planes, toward which I must already have always been steering. The new way of painting in more independent planes marks the beginning of the Wildboden style." He called this a "tapestry style" where the subject was built from individual areas of vivid color. Wildboden (shown just to the right) painted in 1927-28 reflects this new approach. Stylistically, the Portland Art Museum's Fir Trees falls somewhere in between.

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