“Berlin Street Scene” by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner depicts two prostitutes with two potential clients in the foreground, one is facing the viewer, one is facing the prostitutes. The women are seen wearing very colourful clothing with elaborate lace collars and high-fashion hats. The women are looking at the two men provocatively, and the men’s reaction is that one is paying attention and the other is looking away.
The background is a busy street scene with a hackney carriage and the sign of the tram line. The style of capturing just a moment in the street life is emphasised by the tight focus, rather than the full-length detail of the foreground figures. Influences of Italian Futurism are evident in the dynamic of the work and the angular language of Cubism is evident.
Kirchner often depicted prostitutes and their relationship to their clients. This was an attempt to depict his idea of a new independent type of woman. Kirchner an expressionist painter who volunteered for army service in the First World War, but soon suffered a breakdown and was discharged. His work was branded as “degenerate” by the Nazis and much of his work was destroyed or sold abroad. He committed suicide.
- Title: Berlin Street Scene
- German: Berliner Straßenszene
- Artist: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
- Created: 1913
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: Height: 121 cm (47.6 in). Width: 95 cm (37.4 in).
- Museum: Neue Galerie New York
- Name: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
- Born: 1880 – Aschaffenburg, German Empire
- Died: 1938 (aged 58) – Frauenkirch-Wildboden, Switzerland
- Nationality: German
- Movement: Expressionism
- Notable work:
- Berlin Street Scene
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Leonardo da Vinci
Photo Credit 1) Ernst Ludwig Kirchner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons