Ernst Kirchner was born in Dresden, Germany in 1880. The son of an engineer in a paper plant, Kirchner studied architecture at his father’s insistence, but switched to painting as soon as he got his diploma. In 1905 he and three former fellow students set up a studio in an empty Dresden butcher shop and proclaimed themselves leaders of a new movement they called Die Brucke (The Bridge). The members endlessly read French and German philosophers, drank into the night, took midnight swims with their female models, absorbed everything in museums and galleries. In 1911, they moved to Berlin.
Kirchner had developed a style of his own; he had begun painting the famed street scenes that were to be his forte. As a German expressionist, his works were both romantic and subjective. His paintings were elegant with long and pointed figures done in quick jagged strokes. His color was arbitrary, used to express a mood.
In 1914, after volunteering for the artillery, Ernst Kirchner had a nervous breakdown and was found to be suffering from tuberculosis. From then on, his life became a battle against alcohol, dope and in his last years, the Nazis. In 1937 the Nazis removed six hundred thirty-nine of his works from German museums; thirty-two were displayed in the notorious Munich exhibit of “degenerate art”. Less than a year later, in 1938, at the age of fifty-eight, Kirchner ended his life by shooting himself.