Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
watercolour and pencil on paper
27 x 34 cm (10 5/8 x 13 3/8 in.)
signed and dated upper right
Since the early "Brücke" years, Kirchner had been fascinated by the subject of the human figure. As with most of the female figures that appear in Kirchner's works of this period from 1909 onwards, the model in the present work is most likely his partner Doris "Dodo" Grosse, a Dresden hatmaker who was recognisable by her dark hairstyle and the hats she often wore. The dynamism of the present composition derives from the free-flowing, spontaneous pencil lines that define the body of the nude and the strong colours that surround it. From the beginnings of the Brücke group in Dresden in 1905, Kirchner's goal, and that of his fellow artists Erich Heckel, Fritz Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rotluff and Max Pechstein, was to revitalise painting and its outmoded academic roots in the practice of nude and anatomical studies by creating a new art of raw, intense and spontaneously felt experience and expression. To this end, Kirchner and his friends sought to work together as a group, sharing models and working spaces, and capturing the most vital and essential aspects of the human form in a series of swiftly executed and direct nude studies created as quickly as possible.