press release

Exhibition Focuses on Acquisition of Landmark German Expressionist Painting; Restituted Work Joins Collection of Neue Galerie New York

NEW YORK (June 8, 2007)— On July 26, 2007, the Neue Galerie opens “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Berlin Street Scene,” an exhibition focusing on one of the greatest German paintings of the twentieth century. This recently restituted work joins the collection of the Neue Galerie, which is devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art. In addition to Berlin Street Scene, the exhibition will feature a recently acquired Kirchner sculpture, Standing Girl, Karyatide (1909-10), as well as a selection of paintings and works on paper that survey Berlin during this period; they are by Kirchner, Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Christian Schad. The show runs through September 17.

“Kirchner is a key artist for the Neue Galerie, and this is one of his greatest paintings,” said Ronald S. Lauder, President of the Neue Galerie. “We are proud to give it a home in New York.”

“Berlin Street Scene is a defining work of German Expressionism,” said Renée Price, Director of the Neue Galerie. “This acquisition strengthens the German holdings of the Neue Galerie immeasurably.”

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a founding member of the artists’ group Die Brücke (The Bridge) in Dresden in 1905. In 1912, the group moved to Berlin. Kirchner was enthralled by what he called “the symphony of the great city,” and responded to the intensity of the street life he found in Berlin by recording the urban spectacle around him.

Shortly after arriving in the capital city, Kirchner met sisters Erna and Gerda Schilling, who were dancers at a Berlin nightclub. The two monumental figures in Berlin Street Scene (1913-14) are clearly modeled after them. They are shown as thoroughly modern women, dressed in fitted clothing and feathered hats, striding with confidence. Yet there is a dark undercurrent to the work: the central figures are portrayed as prostitutes parading on a busy avenue, and the slashing lines of the composition convey a taut emotional power. With its charged and anxious atmosphere, Berlin Street Scene suggests an uneasy dialogue between primitivism and modernity.

A fully illustrated book on Berlin Street Scene, written by Pamela Kort, will be available in the Neue Galerie Book Store and on the museum website for $30. Also on view will be highlights from the permanent collection, including works by Austrian artists Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Alfred Kubin, and by German artists Erich Heckel, August Macke, Oskar Schlemmer, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Decorative arts will also be on display, including pieces by Austrian designers Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos, and by German designers Marianne Brandt, Marcel Breuer, and Mies van der Rohe. On the lower level will be a display of children’s drawings based on the departure from Austria of the painting Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) by Gustav Klimt. These were created by elementary school students in Vienna and are presented at the Neue Galerie under the title “Adele Comes to America.”

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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Berlin Street Scene