I am still a bit annoyed at myself for never making the time to catch the “Otto Dix” exhibition at Neue Galerie New York back in 2010 – a landmark exploration of the German artist. I remember the vibrant flags featuring Dix’s “Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber” promoting the show on the lampposts around the museum. Soon, I’d promised myself … and then the next thing I knew, it had closed.
Not wanting to repeat my “mistake,” I made sure I got myself to the Neue, an elegant Manhattan museum dedicated to German and Austrian Art, on a recent chilly day – this time to catch “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner,” before it will soon close.
It was a good decision, as I was captivated by the work of what the Neue is calling “one of the greatest German artists of the early 20th century.”
Kirchner’s approach to color is signature, something clearly evident – and something to be savored – throughout the exhibition.
The show, which fills the top floor of museum’s exhibition space, traces Kirchner’s work primarily from 1907-1937. It begins with his time as a founding member of the artists’ group Brücke (Bridge) and continues chronologically, taking in the periods he spent in the German cities of Dresden (1905-11) and Berlin (1911-14), exploring the impact of “The War Years” (1914-18) and finally, his later period in the Swiss resort of Davos (1918-38). In addition, Kirchner’s work as an innovative printmaker is celebrated in an additional gallery on the second floor.
Throughout there are the familiar works, from “Panama Dancers” to “The Russian Dancer Mela” to “Berlin Street Scene,” but also dozens of other works, including evocative sketchbooks and simple-yet-bold drawings, that together present a comprehensive picture of the noted artist (1880-1938).
As the introductory wall panel shares, “In totality, the exhibition underscores Kirchner’s evolving approach to color and his uncanny ability to capture the spirit of his time… His tremendous achievements were remarkable and it is our hope that his work will continue to inspire and spark dialogue.”
If you want to prepare even more for your visit, exhibition co-curators Jill Lloyd and Janis Staggs walk you through the show in a video posted to the Neue site.
“Ernst Ludwig Kirchner” continues through Jan. 13 at the Neue Galerie New York, at 1048 Fifth Ave. (at 86th Street) in Manhattan. For more, visit neuegalerie.org.
– Mary Shustack