Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Kirchner and the Berlin Street

Between 1913 and 1915, as the world tumbled into war, the German Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner made his Berlin Street Scenes, 11 jagged views of life in his adopted city. The paintings have long since been split among museums in Europe and the U.S. This tight little MoMA show reunited seven, along with scores of related oils and works on paper. These are anxious, almost belligerent paintings, full of whiplashing lines, tilting planes and acidic colors. Kirchner's city isn't the playland Paris of the French Impressionists. It's the Brechtian jungle, a tough, even sinister place where the men have sawtooth silhouettes and streetwalkers rule the streets. You wouldn't want to live there, but it was definitely worth a visit.
Museum of Modern Art, New York City (8/3 – 11/10)