Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a well-known German expressionist artist. This art movement encouraged artists to create works that represented their inner feelings. Their work did not tend to look realistic.
- Kirchner was one of the founders of Die Brücke, a group of artists that helped develop the German expressionism movement. Kirchner spent his summers with other artists in the group, on a remote island in the Baltic Sea. This is where he painted Two Nude Figures in a Landscape.
- When the Nazis took control of Germany in the 1930s, they stole, sold, and destroyed tens of thousands of works of art (including than 600 of Kirchner’s paintings).
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and his artist friends left the noise and heat of Berlin to spend their summers painting on a remote island north of Germany called Fehmarn. Kirchner wrote that he “learned to imagine the ultimate unity of Man and Nature” while living on the island.
Kirchner was a leading artist of the German expressionist art movement of the early 1900s. German expressionist artists used abstracted shapes, bold lines, and bright colors to create art that expressed their inner thoughts and feelings. Sometimes their artwork made social critiques. One of the main groups of German expressionist artists was called Die Brücke (“the bridge”). They called the group Die Brücke because they wanted to bridge the past and the future of German art. This group was founded by Kirchner and three other artists, including Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, whose work is part of the NCMA People’s Collection.
In the 1930s the Nazis took control of Germany and tried to control German society. They disliked modern art because it represented multicultural and democratic values. The Nazis took tens of thousands of modern artworks from German museums and sold or destroyed many of them because they did not fit with their values. More than 600 works of art by Kirchner were taken by the Nazis.
Resources for Teachers:
- Watch a video of an educator from the Milwaukee Art Museum discussing German expressionism.
- Watch a video about the Nazi campaign against “degenerate” art.
- Read an article about Die Brücke and its influence.
Resources for Students: