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Bathers Beneath Trees, Fehmarn, 1913

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

German, 1880-1938
Oil on canvas
59-1/2 x 47-1/2 in. (151.1 x 120.7 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© (for works by E. L. Kirchner) by Ingeborg & Dr. Wolfgang Henze-Ketterer, Wichtrach/Bern

On view

In the summer of 1913, Kirchner returned from Berlin to the little island of Fehmarn (between Germany and Denmark), which as he remarked was replete with "South Sea opulence." There he was able, in his words, "to achieve a lasting union of Man with Nature." Both the nudes and the lush landscape are painted with jagged and angular brushstrokes suggestive of both tribal and gothic forms. Both scale and perspective are distorted to heighten expressive force. Verticals and diagonals are set against, and emphasized by, the irrational curve of the horizon. Kirchner volunteered for service at the beginning of World War I, but suffered a nervous breakdown in 1915. After the war he returned to painting. In 1937 his art was declared "degenerate" by the Nazis; he committed suicide the following year.

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