Artwork of the month February

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bergbach mit Steg im Wald, 1921

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

* 1880 in Aschaffenburg (DE)
† 1938 in Frauenkirch/Davos (CH)

Bergbach mit Steg im Wald, 1921

Oil on canvas

80 x 71cm

Donated by Gerda Techow, Vaduz, in 1988

Bergbach mit Steg im Wald (Mountain Stream with Footbridge in Forest) was painted nearby Davos in 1921. The intense, charged colouring of the mountain landscape motif immediately strikes the eye. A bright path in yellow hues crosses the picture horizontally, twisting its way into the bright pink and purple mountainscape. Connected to a footbridge in symbolic red, the path leads over a precipitous mountain stream. The pathway forms a horizontal line, disappearing off both sides of the picture and continuing in the viewer's imagination. Where might this path lead, where does it begin, where does it end?

At its top edge the picture is framed by green conifers that – clearly visible directly alongside the rocky ravine – fade into a cool dark blue with no more discernible tree shapes, suggesting a dense forest.
In Bergbach mit Steg im Wald Kirchner draws the viewer's eye down from the elevated position to the depths of the narrow ravine. In doing so the artist dispenses with any detailed vocabulary of form or depth of perspective. Instead he accentuates the characteristic landscape by means of powerful, significant colours and a flat, almost ornamental compositional structure. Writing under the pseudonym Louis von Marsalle, Kirchner emphasised in 1921: "Parallel to the composition of form goes colour. There is neither light nor shade. The harmony of colours alone creates the experience. Everything is two-dimensional. Solely the spiritual value of colour speaks in this two-dimensionality."

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner counts among the protagonists of German expressionism. Together with his fellow students Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff he founded the artist group "Die Brücke" in 1905. For reasons of health Kirchner settled in Davos in 1917, where he remained until his death in 1938. Where the artist previously used landscape motifs almost exclusively as a background for his expressive figural compositions, they became Kirchner's main artistic subject in the 1920s.

Denise Rigaud



<b>Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Bergbach mit Steg im Wald, 1921</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.