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Hopper And Kirchner: A Comparative View

1791 words - 7 pages

In 1912, artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner completed his painting Two Woman. Two Woman was a painting that had much depth to it, meanings that one does not notice upon first glance. Thirty years later in 1942, famed American artist Edward Cooper was placing his finishing touches on his masterpiece Nighthawks, which was a painting that expressed both the general feelings of the time as well as Cooper's overall life experience. Both Two Woman and Nighthawks have much in common due to their personalities and experience with isolation and loneliness, which are reflected in their art.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a German artist, a painter, and a print maker. Born in 1880, Kirchner was an expressionist artist. He would paint subjects from a sole perspective, often changing them drastically to bring across a viewpoint or message, which he wanted conveyed. He was a founding member of an artist’s group named 'Die Brücke' or 'The Bridge'. Originally based in Dresden, the group later moved to Berlin where they would have the ability to draw from the city's fast moving pace into their art. Nudes played a large part in their paintings. The group often engaged in casual sex, as well as walked around their studio naked. Spontaneity played a rather large part in paintings. Kirchner often painted subjects in fifteen-minute sessions in order to preserve the spontaneity of the moment. Shortly after the group moved to Berlin, some arguments broke out, which later lead to the dissolution of the group. The many diverse artistic viewpoints which were to be found in Berlin, led to rifts in the group.

Kirchner's life was not an easy one. He attempted to start an art school, but failed miserably, which showed in his art. Through his artwork in Berlin, he attempted to portray the vibrancy of city life, as well as the isolation and melancholy that came along with it. His art was extremely graphic and used vibrant colors to convey a message, as well as fully engage the viewer with the painting.

As the First World War neared, Kirchner became exceedingly distressed. He did not want to be drafted into the infantry and therefore signed on as driver. Life as a soldier did not go well and he soon suffered a nervous breakdown. In the aftermath of his breakdown, his work became melancholic. In a self-portrait he portrayed himself missing a hand; a painting which has been compared to Van Gogh’s self-portrait with bandaged ear. He eventually moved back to Dresden where he healed slightly. He returned to Berlin some ten years later where he had gained much popularity; popularity which he retained until the Nazis came to power and declared his work to be degenerate. This eventually led him to commit suicide.

All in all, Kirchner’s paintings had deep meaning; vibrancy, and often melancholy as well. Kirchner’s 1911-12 painting Two Woman expresses both the above aspects. In the painting, Kirchner portrays two women standing next to each other. The colors are vibrant, and loud,...

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