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In The Life and Art of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, director Michael Trabitzsch boldly braids together the disparate strands of the Austrian Expressionist's life and work -- combining color with black and white photography, third person narration with first person confessions from Kirchner's own notebooks, and an angular jazz score with the melodies of Kirchner's day. "We claim as our own everyone who reproduces directly and without falsification whatever it is that drives him to create." These words, carved into wood and hung in 1904 at the butcher shop group studio of Die Brücke ("the bridge") by their author, Kirchner, were a credo that drove the artist and his work well beyond the life of the famed Dresden art collective. Though the thousands of drawings, woodblock prints, lithographs and paintings Kirchner created between the turn of the century and his suicide in 1938, branded a "degenerate" artist by the Nazis, Kirchner's volcanic life and turbulent times were, in the words of critic Wolf-Dieter Dube, "made visible in his pictures, where it survives to astonish and disturb posterity." From artistic adolescence with Die Brücke in provincial Dresden, through sojourns in the Austrian and Swiss countryside, to obsession and self-destruction in Berlin, Kirchner's life and art define the cultural give-and-take between romance, reform and revolution that transformed Europe at the beginning of the last century. Of a generation of artists like Paul Klee, Kandinsky, and even Matisse, who walked a tight-rope stretched between the traditions of the 19th century and the experimentation of the 20th, Kirchner became, as Dube says, "the first to express the experience of a large modern city. In pictures that look like engravings painted in oils, he invented a coloring without precedent in the history of art."

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KI2402 Life and Art of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner DVD (2001/Michael Trabitzsch) $29.95 $24.99