«I wish to remain in the world and for the world. The high mountains here will help me.»
E. L. K.
After his artistic experiences in Dresden and Berlin, which established him as one of the leading figures of German expressionism, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner retired to Davos in 1917, traumatized by World War I and in a life-threatening condition. The health resort in the Grisons, initially seen as a short-term escape, soon became a place of salvation and healing in which he experienced a personal and artistic rebirth.
The exhibition Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos, hosted by the Hermann Geiger Cultural Foundation and organized in cooperation with the Kirchner Museum Davos and the Archive of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s entire oeuvre, Wichtrach/Bern, falls on the centenary of the artist’s move to Switzerland and is a rare occasion to admire in Italy the magnificent works he produced after 1917. The Swiss Alps became the substitute for vibrating urban life; the monumental mountain panoramas replaced the sensory overload of Berlin’s nightlife.
The exhibition is curated by Annick Haldemann and Thorsten Sadowsky, of the Kirchner Museum Davos, which lent most of the works on show, and held under the patronage of the Embassy of Switzerland in Italy, the Regional Government of Tuscany, and the Municipality of Cecina. Sixty-three works, including oil paintings, engravings, watercolours, sketches, and photographs feature mountain landscapes, allegorical representations of simple life, and rural scenes; in his work on the Alpine «lifeworld», Kirchner also includes the themes of the nude and the portrait, as well as new artistic depictions of movement, inspired mainly by dance and winter sports. A section of the exhibition will be devoted to a documentary on Kirchner’s life and works in order to provide a biographical and artistic context.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, born in Aschaffenburg, Germany, in 1880, is famous for representing early 20th-century urban life. In particular, his Berlin street scenes have acquired the status of icons of the bold impulses and seductions of the metropolis, which he depicted with dynamically vibrant brushstrokes. His mature work shows a clear shift towards an abstract, symbolic, and settled form of language. Deeply troubled by the upheavals of World War I, Kirchner found the simplicity he longed for among the Davos Alpine peasants and idealized their bond with nature. Nonetheless, he was still committed to consolidating his reputation as a German avant-garde artist and, even from Davos, he organized several exhibitions in Switzerland, Germany and the United States with the help of his partner Erna. However, the rise of National Socialism, which labelled his art as «degenerate», plunged him back into the abyss of mental suffering, which led him to commit suicide in 1938.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos
15 July ‒ 15 October 2017
Hermann Geiger Cultural Foundation Exhibition Hall
Piazza Guerrazzi 32, Cecina (LI)
Free admission. Open daily
From 15 July to 10 September: 6 pm to 11 pm
From 11 September to 15 October: 4 pm to 8 pm
For information: www.fondazionegeiger.org